Thursday, February 2, 2023
More Living Apart Together
From the New York Times:
Jeff and Connie Ordway had been married for 18 years when Ms. Ordway approached her husband about getting her own apartment.
It was July 2021 — 17 months into the pandemic — and Ms. Ordway, an extrovert, wanted to live closer to the city of Columbia, Mo. Lockdown on their rural farm in Ashland, Mo., “was a lot harder on her than it was on me,” Mr. Ordway, 58, said.
They needed “to figure out how to give her what it is she needs in order to be happy,” he added. They have two children, ages 17 and 14, and felt that one of them would benefit from going to school in a less rural area.
So, in March 2022, Ms. Ordway, 62, found an apartment in Columbia, a 20-minute drive from Mr. Ordway; she also got a job as a shuttle driver at the University of Missouri, which allowed her to be more social. They visit the other’s home a couple of times a week, and speak on the phone every morning and every night.
The decision has stuck. Though pandemic restrictions have eased and their child has left school to work, the distance is working for them. “It feels like we’re dating again,” Ms. Ordway said.
After a pandemic-induced dip, the number of American couples who are “living apart together,” as sociologists call the arrangement, or L.A.T., has started to grow again.
While the percentage of the population that is married declined between 2000 and 2019, the percentage of married people who live apart has increased. According to the Census Bureau’s “America’s Families and Living Arrangements” data, the percentage of married couples who live apart rose by more than 25 percent between 2000 and 2019.
In 2021, it started to rise again. As of this year, there are 3.89 million Americans who are living apart from their spouses, or approximately 2.95 percent of married Americans. (These statistics do not include separated couples considering a divorce, but do include couples with circumstances that force them apart, as in the case of military families.)