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Health and Relationship Quality Later in Life: A Comparison of Living Apart Together (LAT), First Marriages, Remarriages, and Cohabitation

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Abstract

This study compares happiness in the relationship, support, and strain in LAT (living apart together, i.e., noncohabiting) relationships with first marriages, remarriages, and cohabitation among older adults in the United States. The study also asks whether partner’s health affects relationship quality differently in different relationship types. This study draws on the first wave of the National Social Life Health & Aging Project 2005-2006, (n = 1992). Partner’s physical and mental health are good predictors of relationship quality and their effects do not differ by relationship type. Men are more likely to be very happy in their relationship and to receive high support than women, but they also report more strain. LAT relationships are less likely to be very happy and to have high support than marriage and remarriage, but they also have lower strain. Different interpretations of “strain” are discussed.

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... Studies which compared relationship happiness 1 across marriage and cohabitation were mostly conducted in the US (Brown, 2004;Lee & Ono, 2012;Musick & Bumpass, 2012), where cohabitation is of shorter duration than in the UK (Cherlin, 2009). Comparison studies including LAT 2 relationships are scarce (Lewin, 2017;Tai et al., 2014), and have not considered any sexual aspects of the relationships. Since the definitions of "commitment" and "partnerships" are continuously changing and being redefined by both researchers and couples themselves (Berrington et al., 2015;Perelli-Harris et al., 2014), and given the premarital sex-permissiveness increase in Britain , there is a gap and need for understanding how sexual intimacy differs across different intimate partnerships. ...
... Studies have found that, overall, LATs enjoy lower levels of relationship satisfaction compared to married or cohabiting couples (Lewin, 2017;Tai et al., 2014). For example, in the US, LATs were less happy than those married, but they did not differ from cohabitors (Lewin, 2017). ...
... Studies have found that, overall, LATs enjoy lower levels of relationship satisfaction compared to married or cohabiting couples (Lewin, 2017;Tai et al., 2014). For example, in the US, LATs were less happy than those married, but they did not differ from cohabitors (Lewin, 2017). Moreover, LATs receive less support from their partner (defined as the amount of talking to a partner about one's worries, and of relying on a partner in times of need) than both married and cohabiting respondents (Lewin, 2017). ...
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Article
Research on relationship happiness have traditionally compared cohabiting and married relationships. Studies including LAT relationships are scarce and have disregarded sexual aspects of the relationships. This paper compares how married, cohabitating, and LAT relationships in Britain differ with respect to sexual intimacy (defined as emotional closeness during sex, compatibility in terms of sexual preferences, and interest in having sex with a partner), and relationship happiness. Rich data from the British National Study of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL-3, 2010–2012) are used to estimate ordered logistic regression models. Cohabiting individuals share the same levels of sexual intimacy as those married, but they are less happy in their relationship than those married. LAT individuals enjoy overall greater sexual intimacy than coresidential individuals but they are less happy in their relationships. Women in LAT relationships feel less often emotionally close to their partner during sex than married women. By knitting the sex research with the demographic literature, this paper offers new insights in understanding the nature of partnerships, opening up new venues for future research.
... Therefore, later-life LAT relationships tend to last longer (Duncan et al. 2013). However, the incidence of this relationship form in older age is still rather rare, ranging from 2.1% to 7% in the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, and the United States (de Jong Gierveld 2015;Lewin 2017;Öberg and Bildtgard, cited in de Jong Gierveld 2015;Turcotte 2013). In this respect, cohabitation and remarriage constitute more common family forms for older couples, with remarriage the more prevalent option than cohabitation (Brown et al. 2016;De Jong Gierveld and Merz 2013;Lewin 2017;Wu, Schimmele, and Ouellet 2014). ...
... However, the incidence of this relationship form in older age is still rather rare, ranging from 2.1% to 7% in the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, and the United States (de Jong Gierveld 2015;Lewin 2017;Öberg and Bildtgard, cited in de Jong Gierveld 2015;Turcotte 2013). In this respect, cohabitation and remarriage constitute more common family forms for older couples, with remarriage the more prevalent option than cohabitation (Brown et al. 2016;De Jong Gierveld and Merz 2013;Lewin 2017;Wu, Schimmele, and Ouellet 2014). There is also a growing preference for cohabitation within younger cohorts (Schimmele and Wu 2016). ...
... Given the preference in the older cohort for marriage and a cohabitation relationship and the low prevalence of later-life LAT relationships (Brown et al. 2016;De Jong Gierveld and Merz 2013;Lewin 2017), the preference for a LAT living arrangement as an alternative may also be influenced by the level of openness towards less conventional relationship forms. Level of education often serves as a proxy for openness, and has consistently been found to be associated with socioeconomic status and with a liberal political and social orientation (Schoon et al. 2010). ...
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Article
Despite a growing body of research on later-life relationships, there are still only a limited number of explorative longitudinal studies that have investigated the factors responsible for the establishment of either a Living-Apart-Together (LAT) arrangement or a cohabitation relationship. Two waves of data collection by the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (2014/2015-2017; N = 12,155; M age = 71.96; 76.3% women) were analyzed with a special focus on family, dwelling, and financial constraints. Those who were male, younger, and had more children were more likely to enter into a LAT arrangement or a cohabitation relationship than to remain unpartnered. More rooms and fewer years spent in the accommodation raised the odds to partner. LAT persons were slightly older than those in cohabitation relationships. No other factors influenced the form of living arrangement, which indicates that factors other than financial constraints and family responsibilities affect later-life LAT or cohabitation relationship formation.
... With regards to the mechanisms that are primarily linked to mental health, non-cohabiting relationships may give meaning to an individual's life in a similar way as cohabitation but perhaps to a smaller degree than marriage, which has a special symbolic meaning for many people and is also supported by social policy in Germany. Furthermore, cross-sectional studies have shown that non-cohabiting relationships also provide emotional and instrumental support between partners (Strohm et al., 2009;Duncan et al., 2014;Lewin, 2017a) but to a smaller extent than cohabitation and marriage (Strohm et al., 2009;Lewin, 2017a). However, previous findings have also shown that people in non-cohabiting relationships report lower strain than cohabiting people (Lewin, 2017a) and appreciate their greater personal autonomy (Duncan et al., 2014). ...
... With regards to the mechanisms that are primarily linked to mental health, non-cohabiting relationships may give meaning to an individual's life in a similar way as cohabitation but perhaps to a smaller degree than marriage, which has a special symbolic meaning for many people and is also supported by social policy in Germany. Furthermore, cross-sectional studies have shown that non-cohabiting relationships also provide emotional and instrumental support between partners (Strohm et al., 2009;Duncan et al., 2014;Lewin, 2017a) but to a smaller extent than cohabitation and marriage (Strohm et al., 2009;Lewin, 2017a). However, previous findings have also shown that people in non-cohabiting relationships report lower strain than cohabiting people (Lewin, 2017a) and appreciate their greater personal autonomy (Duncan et al., 2014). ...
... Furthermore, cross-sectional studies have shown that non-cohabiting relationships also provide emotional and instrumental support between partners (Strohm et al., 2009;Duncan et al., 2014;Lewin, 2017a) but to a smaller extent than cohabitation and marriage (Strohm et al., 2009;Lewin, 2017a). However, previous findings have also shown that people in non-cohabiting relationships report lower strain than cohabiting people (Lewin, 2017a) and appreciate their greater personal autonomy (Duncan et al., 2014). Against this background, our second hypothesis states that non-cohabiting relationships affect mental health in a similar way than cohabitation but to a smaller degree than marriage: ...
Article
This study focuses on two main questions. First, do non-cohabiting relationships have an effect on mental and physical health? And second, do non-cohabiting relationships affect health in a similar way as cohabitation and marriage? To differentiate between the selection effects of healthier individuals into a couple relationship and the causal effects of couple relationships on health, we test hypotheses about the accumulation of health effects over time. We apply fixed-effects estimation techniques to data from the German Socio-economic Panel. For women, mental health improves after establishing a non-cohabiting relationship and remains similar after starting cohabitation and after getting married. For men, only marriage improves mental health status. The impacts of couple relationships on physical health primarily depend on the duration of the relationship and slowly accumulate over time. In addition, effects are stronger for younger adults.
... A LAT relationship is defined as a noncoresidential intimate partner relationship, in which the partners maintain separate households and share living quarters on an intermittent or temporary basis, for example, several days per week or at weekends (De Jong Gierveld, 2004, Levin, 2004. Transient LAT relationships are most characteristic for younger adults, where LAT is a temporary period prior to cohabitation (Turcotte, 2013); long-term stable LAT relationships are more common in older adults (Connidis, Borell, & Karlsson, 2017;Lewin, 2017;Régnier-Loilier, 2016), and a preferred type of partner relationship among those who value and experience social and financial independence. However, Lewin (2017) showed that this independence may be at the expense of the quality of the relationship, as LAT partners reported lower levels of happiness in their relationships and lower levels of emotional support received from their partner than other types of partner relationships. ...
... Transient LAT relationships are most characteristic for younger adults, where LAT is a temporary period prior to cohabitation (Turcotte, 2013); long-term stable LAT relationships are more common in older adults (Connidis, Borell, & Karlsson, 2017;Lewin, 2017;Régnier-Loilier, 2016), and a preferred type of partner relationship among those who value and experience social and financial independence. However, Lewin (2017) showed that this independence may be at the expense of the quality of the relationship, as LAT partners reported lower levels of happiness in their relationships and lower levels of emotional support received from their partner than other types of partner relationships. ...
... Older persons generally provide the bulk of the support and care their partners need, and the uptake of the caregiver role is generally motivated by the strong personal bond between the partners and largely facilitated by coresidence (Broese van Groenou, de Boer, & Iedema, 2013). Yet as LAT relationships are typically not coresiding, they may lack relationship quality (Lewin, 2017) and often prioritize providing support to children, grandchildren, siblings, and other family members over supporting their partner (De Jong Gierveld, 2015;Noël-Miller, 2011). Building on studies of partner support (Lewin, 2017) and caregiving (Broese van Groenou et al., 2013), we will answer two research questions: ...
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Article
Living apart together (LAT) combines intimacy with autonomy and flexibility but, possibly, with lower commitment to exchanging support and care compared with first marriages, remarriages, and cohabitation of older adults. Data from 50- to 79-year-old respondents in the Family and Fertility Survey 2013 (Statistics Netherlands; N = 4,108) showed that older LAT partners are most often involved in exchanging emotional support. No differences were found in the receipt of daily care. Multivariate analyses showed that receiving support and care from the partner was associated with more health problems, higher quality of the partner relationship, and a broader support network. When in poor health, LAT partners were less likely to receive daily care, but not emotional support, from their partner compared with the other types. Partner relationships in later life are well equipped to provide emotional support, but partner care is facilitated largely by help from others.
... In addition, it is difficult to establish whether the couple is monogamous and even more how the couple perceive themselves and how others perceive them. Another challenge is measuring relationship duration and defining it as long term: it is substantially more difficult to determine the start of a LAT relationship than of a marriage or a cohabitation (Lewin 2017). ...
... For example, the Family and Fertility Survey included questions about non-cohabiting relationships, but it does not represent the older population (Kiernan 2000;Castro-Martin et al. 2008). At the other end of the age range, some studies focus on the older population and do not Intentions to Live Together Among Couples Living Apart:… 723 include younger people, in both quantitative (Lewin 2017) and qualitative frameworks (Davidson 2002;Funk and Kobayashi 2016;Karlsson and Borell 2002;Koren 2015). The British Household Panel Studies (BHPS) and the international Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) include questions on noncohabiting relationships over a wide range of ages. ...
... LAT relationships among single parents affect the type of households in which children are raised and may also bear on their economic standing. LAT relationships among older adults may affect the type of care and quality of emotional support partners receive from each other (Lewin 2017). LAT relationships later in life may also have implications for bequests and other intergenerational transfers. ...
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Article
One of the central questions about LAT (living apart together) is whether these partnerships are short-term arrangements due to temporary constraints, and should be viewed as part of courtship towards cohabitation and marriage, or whether they replace cohabitation and marriage as a long-term arrangement. The current study addresses this question and examines intentions to live together among people living apart by age and gender. This study uses Generations and Gender Study (GGS) data for eleven European countries. The findings reveal an interesting interaction of age and gender. More specifically, younger women have higher intentions to live together than younger men, but older women have lower intentions than older men. These gender differences remain significant also in the multivariate analyses. These findings suggest that older women in LAT may be undoing gender to a greater extent than younger women, who still intend to live in a more traditional (and probably gendered) arrangement of cohabitation and possibly marriage. Having resident children reduces intentions to live together among people younger than age 50, but the effect does not differ by gender. The effect of non-resident children on intentions to live together is statistically non-significant.
... Other factors, such as socioeconomic situation, might be responsible for the studied outcome variables in partnered people. These findings are not in line with primarily cross-sectional research, according to which laterlife LAT arrangements has been communicated as a less resourceful relationship type than other cohabitation relationships or marriage due to its association with a lower amount of perceived support or happiness (Lewin, 2017;Strohm et al., 2009). Nonetheless, it should be noted that the present study differed from prior work in the studied outcome variables. ...
... Furthermore, despite the large sample, relatively few participants partnered across the three study waves, which caused our estimates for these groups to be less accurate. Due to a lower number of partnered respondents, we were forced to jointly analyze cohabitating people and married persons, although the latter group is consistently the most likely to profit from the marriage type of partnership (Lewin, 2017;Schoenborn, 2004;Strohm et al., 2009;Umberson et al., 2013). This might represent another source of discrepancy between these findings and prior work. ...
Article
Despite a growing body of research on later-life relationship formation, little is known about the health predictors and outcomes of later-life Living-Apart-Together (LAT) relationships. A LAT living arrangement is understood to be a possible way for older adults with age-related limits to partner and balance the consequences of being single. Using both selection and resource models to capture the links between health and relationship status, we analyzed unpartnered people 50+ from the longitudinal Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. We examined who entered LAT or cohabiting relationships between Time 1 and 2, who remained unpartnered, and what effect the transition into one of these statuses had on the well-being of those who remained in that status at Time 3. The respondents in LAT relationships did not differ from their cohabiting counterparts in health indicators before the relationship formation, nor was there a difference in life satisfaction and well-being 2 years after partnering. Compared to unpartnered persons, LAT respondents reported better self-perceived health before relationship formation and slightly higher life satisfaction 2 years later. Health status does not influence the choice for a relationship form, but a LAT relationship may constitute a resourceful living arrangement in later life, which provides some support for both the selection and resource models.
... Research reveals that couples' primary relationships typically become more important with age. 5 Partner intimacy and emotional support remain important, even when living separately. [6][7][8] Due to the ongoing companionship and mutual care they receive, 1,5 happily partnered cohabiters reportedly experience better health and well-being than non-cohabiters 9,10 or unhappily partnered couples. 9 The practice of sleeping together has independent, added health benefits. ...
... 10 Poor quality relationships can be harmful to health 9 ; likewise, poor health may indicate relationship discord. 6 Consequently, offering partners choices about their living arrangements may provide significant health benefits and increase their quality of life. ...
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Article
Objectives: Australian aged care policy is wholly focused on individual “consumers” and consequently neglects the needs of dyadic partners. This paper highlights partnered baby boomers’ attitudes to maintaining sexual and intimate relationships in residential care. Methods: In 2016, cross‐sectional data were collected using an online survey of partnered baby boomers recruited using social media. Qualitative data were analysed using word frequency, keywords‐in‐context and thematic analysis. Descriptive statistics were generated from quantitative data. Results: There were 168 participants (85% female), aged 51‐71 years. Many reported that remaining together and continuing physical and sexual contact were important in aged care contexts—necessitating private couple's suites, shared beds, access to condoms, lubricants and sexual health professionals. Conclusions: Considerable cultural change will be required to raise residential aged care to the standard expected by some partnered baby boomers. Shifting to a more couple‐centred approach may benefit partnered residents’ health and well‐being.
... Empirical findings on the question of whether being married contributes more to subjective well-being than being in another type of living arrangement within a partnership (mainly unmarried cohabitation) are extensive, yet ambiguous: whereas cross-sectional research has found that married people are happier and more satisfied than cohabiters (Lewin 2016: 4), longitudinal findings have shown less consistently that one living arrangement is more conducive to happiness or satisfaction than another. There is, for example, evidence that entering marriage or cohabitation tends to increase well-being for at least a couple of years, but that marital quality tends to decline thereafter (Lewin 2016;van Laningham, Johnson, and Amato 2001). Theoretical considerations, such as hedonic adaptation and set-point theory, support these findings. ...
... Some studies have found that LAT partners are more satisfied with their relationship than partners who live together, possibly because LAT couples tend to meet more frequently to engage in common activities, and actively reserve time in their everyday lives to spend together (Noyon and Kock 2006). However, another analysis found that LAT partners receive less practical and emotional support from their partners and are therefore less likely to be happy than married or cohabiting partners (Lewin 2016). A larger body of research that focused on LAT relationships among older people found that LAT partners report lower levels of strain in their relationships, but also lower levels of happiness than their married and cohabiting counterparts. ...
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Article
BACKGROUND Prior research focused on the impact of being in a partnership on quality of life from a cross-sectional perspective; the impact of partnership histories has not yet been investigated. OBJECTIVE Based on the life-course paradigm and the theory of cumulative (dis)advantages, we address this research gap. METHODS Using pairfam data, we analyse the influence of partnership histories between ages 14 and 41 on depressiveness, overall life satisfaction, and partnership expectations. We demonstrate the additional value of using life-course clusters over simple sequence characteristics by showing that more detailed and accurate conclusions can be drawn. RESULTS Results highlight that both men and women benefited from being in a stable cohabitational union. ³ Gender differences were found among those who were negatively affected by not establishing a stable cohabitational union. Among men, longterm singles were significantly more depressed, less satisfied, and had more negative partnership expectations than their cohort peers. Among women, those with a history of unstable relationships were less satisfied and had more negative partnership expectations. CONCLUSIONS In line with the theory of cumulative (dis)advantages, the benefits of stable cohabitations were shown to accumulate over time for both genders. The differences found between men and women are convincing in light of research on unequal gender roles within partnerships. CONTRIBUTION We add to prior research by demonstrating the value of conducting a gender-sensitive longitudinal analysis of the impacts of partnership trajectories on quality of life.
... But family pathways are not restricted to marriage or even to coresidential relationships. Noncoresidential partnerships, including dating and living apart together (LAT) relationships, are arguably more common than is cohabitation in later life but they remain understudied (Brown & Shinohara, 2013;Connidis, Borell, & Karlsson, 2017;Lewin, 2016). Dating relationships are concentrated among the most advantaged unmarried older adults, with those who have higher levels of education and are in better health the most likely to be dating (Brown & Shinohara, 2013). ...
... LAT relationships, which can be conceptualized as long-term dating relationships that are unlikely to eventuate in either cohabitation or marriage, offer unprecedented flexibility and autonomy by allowing couples to define their obligations and responsibilities to one another within a framework of a high commitment relationship (Benson & Coleman, 2016;Connidis et al., 2017;Duncan & Phillips, 2011;Upton-Davis, 2012). Older adults in LAT relationships report less happiness than do cohabitors and married individuals, but also less relationship strain, which aligns with the notion that LAT couples can establish the relationship expectations and norms that work for them (Lewin, 2016). ...
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Article
Older adults are at the forefront of family change as a declining share experiences lifelong marriage and rates of cohabitation and divorce in later life continue to rise. The goal of this article is to review recent scholarship on marriage, cohabitation, and divorce among older adults and identify directions for future research. The varied family experiences characterizing the later life course demonstrate the importance of moving beyond marital status to capture additional dimensions of the marital biography, including transitions, timing, duration, and sequencing. Cohabitation operates as an alternative to marriage for older adults and is increasingly replacing remarriage following divorce or widowhood. The gray divorce rate has doubled in recent decades as older adults abandon marriage in favor of unmarried partnerships or singlehood. The retreat from marriage among older adults raises important questions about the ramifications of family change for health and well-being as well as access to caregivers given that spouses historically have been the primary source of care.
... In middle-aged and older individuals without a specific medical diagnosis, those who live alone or live with someone other than a partner have been found to report more depressive symptoms, impaired physical functioning, and more distress than individuals living with a partner [18][19][20]. Research on older individuals in a LAT [living apart together]-relationship, which is having a partner but not sharing a home, is still scarce, but indicates that these individuals are less happy and receive less support compared to partnered individuals sharing a home [21,22]. Additionally, research is scarce on the psychosocial health effects of an individual's relationship status and living arrangement in the vulnerable group of older individuals with chronic morbidity. ...
... It should be studied whether the partner's health status modifies the benefit of having a partner, that is, whether the benefit depends not only on living together but also on the health of the partner. Recent research has demonstrated that a partner's health status is positively associated with perceived support and relationship quality [22], suggesting that having a healthy partner potentially yields the most benefits when one is ill. A dyadic study could provide more insight into how couples cope in the circumstance that both partners of a couple suffer from chronic morbidity and whether living arrangement affects their adjustment. ...
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Article
Background Due to the aging of the population, society includes a growing proportion of older individuals prone to chronic morbidity. This study aimed to investigate the adverse effects of single and multiple chronic morbidity on psychosocial health and whether these effects are more pronounced in individuals who are non-partnered or living alone. Materials and methods Baseline data from the ‘Lifelines Cohort Study’ collected between 2006 and 2013 in the Netherlands were used. Individuals aged 50+ (n = 25,214) were categorized according to their health status (healthy, single chronic morbidity, multiple chronic morbidity), relationship status (partnered, non-partnered), and living arrangement (living with someone, living alone). Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) were performed to study the main- and the interaction-effects on mental health and role functioning as assessed with the RAND-36. Results Irrespective of having chronic morbidity, having a partner was associated with better mental health when partners shared a home. Individuals with single and especially multiple chronic morbidity had impaired role functioning. Having a partner mitigated the adverse effects of multimorbidity on role functioning, but only in individuals who shared a home with their partner. Non-partnered individuals with multimorbidity and those not sharing a home with their partner demonstrated impaired role functioning. Conclusions The results demonstrate that multimorbidity negatively affects role functioning, but not the mental health, of middle-aged and older individuals. Sharing a home with a partner can mitigate these adverse effects, while other combinations of relationship status and living arrangement do not. Offering intervention to those individuals most vulnerable to impaired functioning may relieve some of the increasing pressure on the health care system. An individual’s relationship status along with one’s living arrangement could foster the identification of a target group for such interventions attempting to sustain physical functioning or to adapt daily goals.
... The few studies that explicitly focus on non-cohabiting relationships have found higher levels of subjective well-being and fewer mental health problems compared with single individuals (Dush and Amato, 2005;Braithwaite et al., 2010). People in non-cohabiting relationships had reported high levels of emotional and instrumental support between partners, low levels of strain, and high levels of personal autonomy (Strohm et al., 2009;Duncan et al., 2014;Lewin, 2017). Two recent longitudinal studies had investigated the influence of transitions in an intimate relationship on the individual's subjective wellbeing and mental health. ...
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Article
This study investigates how individuals’ life satisfaction and depression are affected by the dissolution of a steady non-cohabiting intimate relationship. Previous studies have focused more on the consequences of divorce and less on the influence of non-cohabiting relationships on the well-being of the individual. The data for this study were taken from pairfam, a large-scale German panel survey, and were used to estimate fixed-effects panel regression models and impact functions to identify the overall effect of dissolution and trajectories after separation. The study sample comprised 2,631 individuals who were observed over the course of 11,219 partnership years. Based on the results of this study, three main findings were reported. First, the dissolution of a non-cohabiting relationship led to a significant decline in mental health and life satisfaction. Second, the trajectories after dissolution suggest that the decline was only temporary, showing readjustment after 1 year. Third, gender differences were identified, suggesting worse consequences for men who experienced a significant decline in both dimensions and did not readjust in life satisfaction until several years after the dissolution. For women, decreases were only found for life satisfaction, but quick readjustments were observed.
... This indicates the lack of an additional impact of one's own ill-health beyond socioeconomic vulnerability for living-apart-together. The intimate partner's health status may be more important when opting for a LAT relationship instead of co-residence in order to reduce (future) care responsibilities (Duncan et al., 2014;Karlsson & Borell, 2002;Lewin 2017;Upton-Davis, 2012), but we have no information on that aspect in the dataset. ...
... Although associations between marital conflict and health in the context of remarriage rarely have been examined (Ganong & Coleman, 1991;Lewin, 2017), some researchers have proposed that greater structural complexity experienced by stepfamily couples leads to more conflicts than for firstmarried couples with children (Shafer et al., 2013). In addition, remarried couples in stepfamilies may not manage conflicts as effectively as individuals in first marriages who have children (DeGarmo et al., 1999;Saint-Jacques et al., 2011), and they may have poorer communication, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skills than couples in first marriages (Halford et al., 2007;Mirecki et al., 2013). ...
Article
This study examined differences between first-married and remarried couples in marital conflict, physical and mental health, and the emotion regulation strategies of cognitive reap- praisal and expressive suppression. Marriage order and emo- tional regulation strategies were examined as potential moderators of the association between marital conflict and health. Remarried couples residing with a stepchild (n = 108) and first-married couples (n = 111) residing with a child com- pleted online surveys. For cognitive reappraisal, a moderating effect was found for wives only. Greater use of cognitive reap- praisal weakened the negative association between marital con- flict and mental health for first-married wives, but not for remarried wives. Expressive suppression moderated the effects of marital conflict on the physical health of husbands differently by marriage order. Among first-married husbands, higher levels of expressive suppression attenuated the positive association between marital conflict and physical health symptoms; but for remarried husbands, higher levels of expressive suppression exacerbated the positive association between marital conflict and physical health symptoms. Among wives, however, more use of expressive suppression increased the negative effects of marital conflict on mental health, regardless of marriage order. These findings underscore the importance of examining context when considering the capacity for emotion regulation strategies to moderate the link between marital conflict and health.
... These findings are linked to previous studies highlighting the association between marriage and mental well-being among men in particular (Brown et al., 2005;Horwitz et al., 1996). One reason for this may lie in social support, as women report receiving more social support outside of marriage, while men, in turn, report receiving more support from their spouses (Lewin, 2017;Stronge et al., 2019;Umberson et al., 1996). Among women, being single was associated with lower self-esteem at this age and was the only association between self-esteem and relationship status in women regarding all age phases. ...
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The aim of this study was to assess the associations between relationship status and mental well-being in four different phases during the life course, and to identify whether relationship quality moderated these associations. We used a broader concept of relationship status (instead of marital status) and also included the positive dimension of mental health. Participants in a Finnish cohort study were followed up at ages 22 (N=1,656), 32 (N=1,471), 42 (N=1,334), and 52 (N=1,159). Measures in all study panels covered relationship status (marriage, cohabitation, dating, single and divorced/widowed), Short Beck Depression Inventory (S-BDI), self-esteem (seven items) and relationship quality (six items). Analyses were carried out using linear regression. Compared to marriage, being single or being divorced/widowed were associated with depressive symptoms at every age in men. For women, in turn, being single – but not being divorced/widowed – was associated with depressive symptoms. Among men, being single or being divorced/widowed were also associated with lower self-esteem at age 32, 42 and 52, but in women, only one association between lower self-esteem and being single was found at age 32. Of the age stages, the age 32 is highlighted in men, at which point all relationship statuses were risk factors compared to marriage. There were only few indications of the moderating role of the relationship quality. Compared to marriage, being single or being divorced/widowed were quite consistently associated with poorer mental well-being during the life course, especially among men. For dating and cohabiting the associations were more fragmented depending on age and gender; particularly among women, these relationship statuses tended not to differ from marriage in terms of mental well-being. These observations on mental well-being across five relationship statuses are important in our contemporary society, where the number of marriages is decreasing, and other forms of relationships are becoming more common.
... Though causality is not certain, decreased microbial diversity is associated with obesity, cardiac disease, and type 2 diabetes, and a range of other inflammatory disorders [40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47] . More broadly, there is extensive evidence that cohabitating couples in later life have substantially improved physical and psychological well-being compared to single adults [48][49][50] . Thus, similar mechanisms might explain some of the variance in findings in humans. ...
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Article
Social relationships shape human health and mortality via behavioral, psychosocial, and physiological mechanisms, including inflammatory and immune responses. Though not tested in human studies, recent primate studies indicate that the gut microbiome may also be a biological mechanism linking relationships to health. Integrating microbiota data into the 60-year-old Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, we found that socialness with family and friends is associated with differences in the human fecal microbiota. Analysis of spouse (N = 94) and sibling pairs (N = 83) further revealed that spouses have more similar microbiota and more bacterial taxa in common than siblings, with no observed differences between sibling and unrelated pairs. These differences held even after accounting for dietary factors. The differences between unrelated individuals and married couples was driven entirely by couples who reported close relationships; there were no differences in similarity between couples reporting somewhat close relationships and unrelated individuals. Moreover, married individuals harbor microbial communities of greater diversity and richness relative to those living alone, with the greatest diversity among couples reporting close relationships, which is notable given decades of research documenting the health benefits of marriage. These results suggest that human interactions, especially sustained, close marital relationships, influence the gut microbiota.
... Next to the who and why of LAT, a handful of studies has examined the relationship experiences of LAT couples. Two recent studies found that LAT couples are generally less satisfied with their relationship than married and cohabiting couples are (Lewin, 2017a;Tai, Baxter, & Hewitt, 2014). In a mixed-methods study in Britain, Duncan, Phillips, Carter, Roseneil, & Stoilova, 2014 reported that the relationship practices and perceptions of LAT couples are similar to co-resident couples in terms of sexual exclusivity, emotional closeness and commitment, but are different with respect to caregiving between partners, flexibility and autonomy. ...
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The non-institutionalised, flexible nature of living-apart-together (LAT) raises questions about partner commitment in the context of the debate about the individualisation of society. We explored how partner commitment in LAT relationships in the Netherlands is shaped by individuals’ satisfaction with, alternatives to, investments in and social support for their relationship. The underlying theoretical framework is an extended version of the Investment Model of Commitment. We conducted 22 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with men and women. The major themes that were addressed in the analysis were commitment, satisfaction, alternatives, investments, social support, relationship history and future plans. Participants were emotionally highly attached to their partner, but they doubted their commitment to maintaining their relationship in the future. Satisfaction with the current partner and intrinsic investments, such as emotions and effort, were described as contributing the most to feelings of commitment. Social support, quality of alternatives and extrinsic investments, such as material ties, were felt to contribute the least. Relationship history and life experience played an important role in how middle-aged and older individuals, of whom many were divorced, perceived the four determinants and experienced commitment. In this context, the LAT arrangement expressed fear of commitment and getting hurt, which was further reflected in limited investments. The paper concludes that although emotional attachment appears to be high among people in LAT relationships, they may have a relatively limited belief and interest in life-long partnerships.
Article
Late-life remarriage is one form of repartnering later in life, a phenomenon that has developed with the increase in life expectancy and other modernization processes, such as the shift from an extended to a nuclear family structure. Knowledge on the phenomenon of repartnering is based on research conducted mainly within Western societies living by individualistic values. It has also been studied in societies such as Israel, which value self-determination alongside familism. How the phenomenon is experienced within a more patriarchal, collectivist society undergoing modernization processes, such as the Arab Muslim society in Israel, is yet to be explored. The aim was to understand the meaning of late-life remarriage and how it is experienced among older Arab Muslim widowers in Israel who remarried at old age after a long-term marriage and raising a family. Using a phenomenological approach, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 14 Arab Muslim widowers aged 70–80 at time of remarriage, to never-married, middle-aged women. Three themes were identified: The first theme addresses motivations for remarriage, the second theme examines continuity and change from a lifelong marriage, and the third theme refers to the meaning they attribute to their current wife. Each theme addresses participants’ inner world, their relationship with spouse and offspring, and their perception of the society they belong to. Conclusions address late-life remarriage as a solution for older widowers to receive care within the extended collectivist family. Thus, the phenomenon reflects a reaction to modernization processes alongside a way to preserve patriarchal gender roles.
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Relationships substantially impact resident quality of life. Research has indicated that residents value relationships with multiple constituencies. Resident-resident (peer) relationships, resident-staff relationships, and resident-family relationships are all explored. The value of peer relationships and how they contribute to a sense of belonging are examined, including resident preferences for and types of relationships, how proximity and peer activities or engagement opportunities help form such relationships, and how facilities can remove barriers and support residents’ relationships with each other. Additionally, interpersonal relationships, including intimate or romantic interactions, that are either pre-established or newly formed after arrival at the care community, will be included. The importance of relationships between staff and residents is also described. Direct care staff often have the greatest potential to affect resident quality of life and, when residents cannot speak for themselves, may serve as accurate proxies for resident preferences. How these relationships support individualized care and emotional well-being is detailed, along with specific approaches and actions to promote such relationships. Finally, the promotion and facilitation of family member visits will be discussed, including options to do so virtually via technology when in-person visits are not feasible. Strategies for building connections with families are also highlighted, including the value of effective family councils.KeywordsResident-resident (peer) relationshipsResident-staff relationshipsResident-family relationshipsRomantic relationshipsIndividualized careEmotional well-beingQuality of lifeEngaging familiesFamily councilsRole of staff
Article
This study examines the underexplored relationship between union type and mental health for married, cohabiting, and living apart together (“LAT”) individuals. Further, we assess whether gender and age moderate (separately and jointly) this relationship. Using data from Wave 1 of the Generations and Gender Survey ( N = 34,833), results suggest that cohabitors and LATs have worse mental health than married individuals. The negative effects of cohabiting or living apart on mental health are stronger for women than men. Young and middle-aged female LATs (to an equal magnitude) have worse mental health than married women of the same ages, while there are no such differences among older women. Middle-aged and older male LATs have worse mental health than married men of the same ages (with the larger effect found for middle-aged men), but there are no such differences among younger men. Thus, we highlight previously undocumented gender and life course dynamics of union type and mental health.
Article
Objective This study compared the relationship quality of US midlife adults in dating, living apart together (LAT) relationships, cohabitation, and marriage. Background Unmarried partnerships are gaining ground in midlife but how these partnerships compare to each other and to marriage is unclear. From an incomplete institutionalization perspective, those in unmarried relationships, especially LAT relationships but also cohabitations, face challenges due to unclear relationship norms and expectations, which may eventuate in poorer relationship quality than that of the married. Alternatively, cohabitation and, by extension, LAT relationships offer flexibility and autonomy and thus may function as an alternative to marriage marked by comparable relationship quality. Method Data were drawn from the 2013 Families and Relationships Survey, a nationally representative survey of US adults. The analytic sample was composed of adults aged 50–65 in a partnership (N = 2166). Multivariable models compared the associations between relationship type (dating, LAT, cohabiting, and married) and relationship quality (happiness, support, commitment, disagreement, and instability). Results The incomplete institutionalization perspective was supported for LATs, who tended to report poorer relationship quality than marrieds. For cohabitors, this perspective received mixed support. Although cohabitors reported less happiness and commitment than marrieds, which aligned with the incomplete institutionalization perspective, the groups did not differ on relationship support, disagreement, or instability, supporting the cohabitation as an alternative to marriage perspective. Dating, LAT, and cohabiting relationships were remarkably alike. Conclusion This study has implications for understanding the shifting landscape of relationships in midlife which in turn may shape individual health and well-being.
Article
There is an ongoing debate over whether living apart together (LAT) relationships are simply long-term relationships or alternatives to cohabitation or marriage. This study examined cohabitation and marriage expectations among older adults who LAT in the United States to address the debate. The analyses also compared the marriage expectations of older adults who LAT and cohabitors. Using data from the 2011 Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), we examined the union expectations of 250 individuals who LAT and 234 cohabitors. After providing a demographic portrait of older adults who LAT, we used ordered logistic regression models to predict their cohabitation and marriage expectations. Additional models predicted marriage expectations for older adults who LAT versus cohabitors. Older adults who LAT were unlikely to expect to formalize their unions. Adults who LAT were less likely to expect marriage than cohabitors. LAT relationships appear to be long-term partnerships in the United States.
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BACKGROUND Although there is a lot of research analyzing the distribution and pluralization of living arrangements, only a few studies have focused on the partnership forms of the oldest old population. In particular, very little is known about the prevalence of ‘living-aparttogether’ (LAT) relationships in this age group. OBJECTIVE This study examines the extent of coresidential partnerships and LAT relationships among the population aged 80 years and older in the most populated German state, North Rhine-Westphalia. METHODS We use cross-sectional data from the 2016–2018 survey Quality of Life and Subjective Well-Being of the Very Old in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW80+). The representative sample contains 1,863 individuals aged 80 years or older, including 211 nursing home residents. We present descriptive statistics considering differences in gender, age, and marital status. RESULTS The average share of LAT relationships among old-age partnerships is 13.3%. While the share of partnerships is declining among the oldest old individuals from the age of 80 years onward, the proportion of LAT relationships in relation to coresidential partnerships is increasing. Marital unions in which partners do not share a common household turned out to be a prevalent living arrangement. CONTRIBUTION This is the first study to examine the extent of LAT relationships among the oldest old population in Germany. We demonstrate with unique data that LAT relationships are a common partnership type in old age. While most studies concentrate on partnerships with joint households, the extent of new living arrangements in old age could be underestimated and should receive more attention in current research.
Article
This article reports a study on the impact of an online meditation program on marital adjustment and relationship quality of older remarried couples. Meditation was effective and better marital adjustment post-test was reported by remarried partners who were highly educated, living as a couple alone, with no dependents, widowed prior to remarriage, and who regularly attended the online meditation lessons and self-practiced. Further better relationship quality was reported by highly qualified participants, Hindus, who lived alone with their partners, widowed women who remarried, and participants who diligently adhered to the intervention. There was concordance in relationship quality scores of both older remarried partners. Intervention adherence mediated the relationship between demographic variables and outcomes. The online meditation program is an effective psychoeducational intervention for late-life remarried couples with some refinements for the less educated, divorced prior to remarriage, living with other family members and dependents in addition to the remarriage partner.
Article
Objectives: Later life marital patterns have undergone shifts over the past few decades, including a rapid growth of cohabiting unions. Despite the increase in older adult cohabitation, research on this population has been slow to keep up. Intimate relationships are linked to well-being and relationship quality is especially important because high quality relationships offer a number of benefits for well-being, whereas poor quality relationships often are detrimental. This study compares cohabiting and remarried individuals on two measures of relationship quality. Method: Using data from the 2010 and 2012 Health and Retirement Study, I investigate the positive and negative relationship quality of cohabitors relative to their remarried counterparts and whether the association of union type and relationship quality varies by race. Results: Across both positive and negative relationship quality, I found few differences between cohabiting and remarried individuals. Black cohabitors report higher positive relationship quality than remarrieds, whereas White cohabitors and remarrieds do not differ. Discussion: These findings suggest that cohabiting unions and remarriages are comparable among White older adults, but that Black cohabitors may gain more in terms of positive relationship quality than their remarried counterparts.
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Social relationships shape human health and mortality via behavioral, psychosocial, and physiological mechanisms, including inflammatory and immune responses. Though not tested in human studies, recent primate studies indicate that the gut microbiome may also be a biological mechanism linking relationships to health. Integrating microbiota data into the 60-year-old Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, we found that socialness with family and friends is associated with differences in the human fecal microbiota. Analysis of spouse (N = 94) and sibling pairs (N = 83) further revealed that spouses have more similar microbiota and more bacterial taxa in common than siblings, with no observed differences between sibling and unrelated pairs. These differences held even after accounting for dietary factors. The differences between unrelated individuals and married couples was driven entirely by couples who reported close relationships; there were no differences in similarity between couples reporting somewhat close relationships and unrelated individuals. Moreover, the microbiota of married individuals, compared to those living alone, has greater diversity and richness, with the greatest diversity among couples reporting close relationships, which is notable given decades of research documenting the health benefits of marriage. These results suggest that human interactions, especially sustained, close marital relationships, influence the gut microbiota.
Research on relational maintenance of long-distance or cross-residential romantic relationships is limited. Moreover, relatively little is known about relational maintenance among non-marital intimate partners in later life, many of whom prefer to live-apart-together (LAT) rather than cohabit. This research paper examines how older adults from the United States maintain their romantic relationships across residences. The authors conducted a grounded theory study drawing on interviews collected from 22 older adults in LAT relationships. The data revealed that older LAT partners engage in a process of safeguarding autonomy to maintain their partnerships and relationship satisfaction. Two broad strategies were identified: upholding separateness and reshaping expectations. While safeguarding autonomy was paramount, participants also emphasized the importance of having a flexible mindset about the physical copresence of their relationships. The findings have implications for practice, suggesting that creating an interdependent couple-identity may undermine, or at least have little bearing on, the relationship stability of older LAT couples. Future research is needed to determine how LAT experiences among racially/ethnically or socioeconomically diverse samples might differ.
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Article
Most research asks whether or not cohabitation has come to rival marriage. Little is known about the meaning of living apart together (LAT) relationships, and whether LAT is an alternative to marriage and cohabitation or a dating relationship. We examine across Europe: (1) the prevalence of LAT, (2) the reasons for LAT, and (3) the correlates of (a) LAT relationships vis-à-vis being single, married, or cohabiting, and (b) different types of LAT union. Using Generations and Gender Survey data from ten Western and Eastern European countries, we present descriptive statistics about LATs and estimate multinominal logistic regression models to assess the correlates of being in different types of LAT unions. LAT relationships are uncommon, but they are more common in Western than Eastern Europe. Most people in LAT unions intend to live together but are apart for practical reasons. LAT is more common among young people, those enrolled in higher education, people with liberal attitudes, highly educated people, and those who have previously cohabited or been married. Older people and divorced or widowed persons are more likely to choose LAT to maintain independence. Surprisingly, attitudinal and educational differences are more pronounced in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe. A tentative conclusion is that LAT is more often a stage in the union formation process than an alternative to marriage and cohabitation. Yet some groups do view LAT as substituting for marriage and cohabitation, and these groups differ between East and West. In Eastern Europe a cultural, highly educated elite seems to be the first to resist traditional marriage norms and embrace LAT (and cohabitation) as alternative living arrangements, whereas this is less the case in Western Europe. In Western Europe, LAT unions are mainly an alternative for persons who have been married before or had children in a prior relationship.
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This paper examines how people living apart together (LATs) maintain their relationships, and describes how they view this living arrangement. It draws on a 2011 survey on LAT in Britain, supplemented by qualitative interviewing. Most LATs in Britain live close to their partners, and have frequent contact with them. At the same time most see LAT in terms of a monogamous, committed couple, where marriage remains a strong normative reference point, and see living apart as not much different from co-residence in terms of risk, emotional security or closeness. Many see themselves living together in the future. However, LAT does appear to make difference to patterns of care between partners. In addition, LATs report advantages in terms of autonomy and flexibility. The paper concludes that LAT allows individuals some freedom to manoeuvre in balancing the demands of life circumstances and personal needs with those of an intimate relationship, but that practices of LAT do not, in general, represent a radical departure from the norms of contemporary coupledom, except for that which expects couples to cohabit.
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Objectives.We explore gender differences in older adults' appraisals of positive and negative aspects of their marriages, examine how these appraisals relate to global marital satisfaction, and identify distinctive marital profiles associated with global satisfaction in men and women.Method.Data are from the Changing Lives of Older Couples Study (n = 1,110). We used a variant of principal components analysis to generate marital quality profiles, based on one's endorsement of positive and negative marital characteristics. OLS regression was used to detect associations between marital profiles and global marital satisfaction. Men offered more positive marital assessments than women, particularly on items reflecting positive treatment by one's wife. Three marital quality profiles emerged: Positive, Positive-Negative, and Negative. Although marital satisfaction was best explained by positive appraisals in both genders, they were less important for men than for women. The negative profile showed a tendency for a stronger prediction in men.Discussion.Prior studies show small differences in men's and women's global marital satisfaction. Our work provides evidence that the presence and magnitude of such gender differences may vary based on the specific marital component considered. We discuss ways that gender shapes marital interactions, expectations, and perceptions, and the implications of our results for the well-being of married older adults.
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Objectives.The pathways linking spousal health to marital quality in later life have been little examined at the population level. We develop a conceptual model that links married older adults' physical health and that of their spouse to positive and negative dimensions of marital quality via psychological well-being of both partners and their sexual activity. We use data from 1,464 older adults in 732 marital dyads in the 2010-2011 wave of the National Social Life Health and Aging Project. We find that own fair or poor physical health is linked to lower positive and higher negative marital quality, spouse's health to positive quality, and that own and spouse's mental health and more frequent sex are associated with higher positive and lower negative marital quality. Further, we find that (a) sexual activity mediates the association between own and partner's physical health and positive marital quality, (b) own mental health mediates the association between one's own physical health and both positive and negative marital quality, and (c) partner's mental health mediates the associations of spouse's physical health with positive marital quality. These results are robust to alternative specifications of the model.Discussion.The results suggest ways to protect marital quality among older adults who are struggling with physical illness in themselves or their partners.
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This chapter takes a first step toward understanding the development of Living Apart Together relations following divorce and widowhood in later life. Living Apart Together relations are intimate in the deepest sense of the word, but combine at the same time intimacy with autonomy. Living together under the same roof, as opposed to establishing a Living Apart Together relationship, places radically different demands on the coordination of time, action and resources. By initiating Living Apart Together relationships, elderly women may avoid the burden of what they consider an unfair demand for personal service and care, but at the same time enjoy intimacy.
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Emotion regulation is generally thought to be a critical ingredient for successful interpersonal relationships. Ironically, few studies have investigated the link between how well spouses regulate emotion and how satisfied they are with their marriages. We utilized data from a 13-year, 3-wave longitudinal study of middle-aged (40-50 years old) and older (60-70 years old) long-term married couples, focusing on the associations between downregulation of negative emotion (measured during discussions of an area of marital conflict at Wave 1) and marital satisfaction (measured at all 3 waves). Downregulation of negative emotion was assessed by determining how quickly spouses reduced signs of negative emotion (in emotional experience, emotional behavior, and physiological arousal) after negative emotion events. Data were analyzed using actor-partner interdependence modeling. Findings showed that (a) greater downregulation of wives' negative experience and behavior predicted greater marital satisfaction for wives and husbands concurrently and (b) greater downregulation of wives' negative behavior predicted increases in wives' marital satisfaction longitudinally. Wives' use of constructive communication (measured between Waves 1 and 2) mediated the longitudinal associations. These results show the benefits of wives' downregulation of negative emotion during conflict for marital satisfaction and point to wives' constructive communication as a mediating pathway. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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This article uses data from the 1973-2006 General Social Survey to assess the interactive impact of race and gender on marital happiness over time. Findings indicate independent and significant effects for both variables, with Whites and husbands reporting greater marital happiness than Blacks and wives. Comparing four subgroups (White husbands, White wives, Black husbands, and Black wives), the authors find that White husbands report the highest levels of marital happiness whereas Black wives report the lowest. Assessment of trends from the 1970s to the 2000s reveals a convergence among the groups: Although White husbands consistently report the highest levels of marital happiness, there has been a steady decline in the gap between all four groups. Most notably, Black wives exhibit a significant increase in marital happiness relative to the other groups. Findings are discussed in the context of the changing structure and composition of families in contemporary U.S. society.
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To an increasing extent the ‘young old’ in Sweden are actors in the process of the differentiation of family forms. A distinctive contribution is the establishment of lasting intimate relationships that do not include a shared home, that is, an alternative to marriage and unmarried cohabitation usually covered by the concept of Living Apart Together (LAT relationships). Living Apart Together can offer older divorcees, widows, and widowers a fulfilling intimate relationship but at the same time ensure the individual a significant degree of autonomy. The study shows that this is of particular importance to women, and that older women play a vital role in establishing and upholding Living Apart Together relationships. By preserving her own household a woman may avoid the asymmetrical distribution of household labor and unequal demands of caring for a partner that she may have experienced in a previous marriage.
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Sociological theory and research point to the importance of social relationships in affecting health behavior. This work tends to focus on specific stages of the life course, with a division between research on childhood/adolescent and adult populations. Yet recent advances demonstrate that early life course experiences shape health outcomes well into adulthood. We synthesize disparate bodies of research on social ties and health behavior throughout the life course, with attention to explaining how various social ties influence health behaviors at different life stages and how these processes accumulate and reverberate throughout the life course.
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Marital relationships, like individuals, follow a developmental trajectory over time with ups and downs and gains and losses. We work from a life course perspective and use growth curve analysis to look at trajectories of change in marital quality over time. Although the tendency is for marital quality to decline over time, some groups begin with much higher levels of marital quality than others. Moreover, a number of life course and contextual factors can accelerate or slow this path of change. Our findings point to the importance of considering the multi-dimensionality of time (e.g., age, marital duration, the passage of years) as well as family transitions (e.g., having children, emptying or refilling the nest) in creating the meanings and experiences of marriage over time.
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We use two surveys to describe the demographic and attitudinal correlates of being in "Living Apart Together" (LAT), cohabiting, and marital relationships for heterosexuals, lesbians, and gay men. About one third of U.S. adults not married or cohabiting are in LAT relationships - these individuals would be classified as "single" in conventional studies that focus on co-residential unions. Gay men are somewhat more likely than heterosexual men to be in LAT relationships. For heterosexuals and lesbians, LAT relationships are more common among younger people. Heterosexuals in LAT unions are less likely to expect to marry their partners, but more likely to say that couples should be emotionally dependent than are cohabiters. Regardless of sexual orientation, people in LAT relationships perceive similar amounts of emotional support from partners, but less instrumental support than cohabiters perceive.
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We examine the extent of emotional and social loneliness among older people and how the evaluation of the functioning and quality of marriages plays a role. Data on 755 respondents aged 64-92 are taken from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (Wave 2001-2002). Hierarchical negative binomial regression analysis is used. Between 1 in 4 and 5 older adults who are married exhibit moderate or strong emotional or social loneliness. Stronger emotional and social loneliness is observed in adults whose spouse has health problems, who do not often receive emotional support from the spouse, who have nonfrequent conversations or are in disagreement, or who evaluate their current sex life as not (very) pleasant or not applicable. Emotional loneliness is stronger among women in second marriages, whereas marked social loneliness is especially characteristic of older men with disabled spouses. Moreover, smaller social networks and less contact with children also increase emotional and social loneliness in later life. Differentiating marital quality and gender provides greater insight into emotional and social loneliness in married older people.
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When politicians point to the high social costs and taxpayer burden imposed by disintegrating `family values they overlook the fact that individuals do not simply make the decisions that lead to unwed parenthood marriage or divorce on the basis of what is good for society. They weigh the costs and benefits of each of these choices to themselves--and sometimes their children. But how much do individuals know about these costs and benefits? I think that we as demographers have something to contribute here. As individual researchers we investigate the relationship between marriage and longevity wealth earnings or childrens achievements but we rarely try to pull all this evidence together. I would like to argue that we have an opportunity and an obligation to do that and to tell people what their decisions about marriage and family potentially mean for them as individuals. That is my objective here. (EXCERPT)
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Recent research shows that poor marital quality adversely affects trajectories of physical health over time and that these adverse effects are similar for men and women. These studies test the possibility of gender differences in vulnerability to poor marital quality, but they fail to take into account possible gender differences in exposure to poor marital quality. We present longitudinal evidence to show that although the impact of marital quality on physical health trajectories may be similar for married men and women, generally lower levels of marital quality experienced by women may translate into a sustained disadvantage for the health of married women over the life course. These findings frame the call for renewed theoretical work on gender and marriage that takes into account both gender similarity in response to marital quality as well as gender differences in the experience of marriage over the life course.
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This study examines the effects of own and spousal disability on social and emotional loneliness among married adults aged 65 and older. Data from 710 men and 379 women of a Dutch community sample were analyzed with linear regression analyses. For men, only their wives' disability was related to higher levels of social loneliness, whereas for women mainly their own disability was related to higher levels of social loneliness. Own disability and spousal disability were related to higher levels of emotional loneliness among both men and women. Effects of disability remained unaffected after controlling for characteristics of the social network and the marital relationship. Findings underscore the importance of considering effects of both spouses' health on measures of individual well-being. Also, the traditional division of social roles makes older married men relatively vulnerable to social loneliness when their wives suffer from disability.
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In the USA, although married partners are spending less time together now than in the past, they continue to be generally happy with their marriages. In this chapter, ‘Alone Together’ marriages and ‘Living Apart Together’ (LAT) relationships are examined with reference to studies conducted in the USA and Europe respectively. The growth of ‘Alone Together Marriages’ is illustrated with US surveys, conducted in 1980 and 2000. In Europe, scholars have described ‘Living Apart Together’ (LAT) relationships, in which couples maintain long-term sexually exclusive relationships but choose to live separately in different households. Among young people, the rise in LAT relationships reflects the emergence of a developmental period in which decisions and commitments that signify adulthood are postponed. Among older adults, LAT relationships reflect the growth of individualism and a decline in the perceived necessity and value of traditional marriage. These two types of LATs have different causes and contexts.
Article
Background: A large body of research has compared relationship satisfaction and quality in cohabiting versus married relationships. Despite increased recognition of couples in living apart together (LAT) relationships, very little research has examined the experiences of couples in LAT relationships compared to co-residential unions. Objective: Our aim is to develop knowledge about the experiences of different union types by investigating relationship satisfaction of people in LAT, cohabiting, and marital relationships. We differentiate those with intentions to marry for cohabiters, and those with intentions to marry or live together in LAT relationships. We also examine differences by gender and country. Methods: Using data from Wave 1 of the Generations and Gender Survey in France, Germany, Australia, and Russia (n = 9,604), OLS regressions are estimated to investigate a) differences in relationship satisfaction across relationship types, and b) across countries. Results: Married people have the highest levels of relationship satisfaction. People in non-marital unions with intentions to marry or live together are significantly more satisfied than those without marriage or cohabitation intentions. Those in LAT relationships with no intentions to live together have the lowest levels of relationship satisfaction. There is evidence of cross-national variation with differences in relationship satisfaction by union type most pronounced in Australia and Russia. Gender differences are found with women reporting lower levels of relationship satisfaction than men. Conclusions: LAT relationships are qualitatively different to co-residential unions. It is important to further develop our understanding of the experiences of couples in these relationships.
Article
We assess evidence for gender differences across a range of relationships and consider whether the form and quality of these relationships affect the psychological functioning of men and women differently. Data from a national panel survey provide consistent evidence that men's and women's relationships differ. However, we find little evidence for the theoretical argument that women are more psychologically reactive than men to the quality of their relationships: Supportive relationships are associated with low levels of psychological distress, while strained relationships are associated with high levels of distress for women and for men. However, if women did not have higher levels of social involvement than men, they would exhibit even higher levels of distress relative to men than they currently do. We find little evidence for the assertion that men and women react to strained relationships in gender-specific ways--for example, with alcohol consumption versus depression.
Article
Second couplehood in old age is a growing phenomenon alongside increases in life expectancy. Lately, a shift has occurred in that individual diversity of ageing is perceived to depend on the physical and social contexts in which older persons experience change. Thus, the purpose of the study on which this paper reports was to examine second couplehood in the context of old age and old age in the context of second couplehood using an existential-phenomenological theoretical orientation. Twenty couples were recruited using criterion-sampling: men aged 65+ and women aged 60+, with children and grandchildren from a lifelong marriage that had ended in widowhood or divorce, living in second couplehood – married or not – in separate houses or co-habitating. Forty individual semi-structured interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed according to phenomenological tradition. Five sub-themes emerged, demonstrating couplehood and old age intertwining: (a) enjoying life while still possible; (b) living with health-related issues; (c) relationships with adult children: autonomy versus dependency; (d) loneliness: living as a couple is better than living alone; (e) self-image: feeling young–feeling old. Findings support the existence of positive and negative aspects of old age. Our discussion suggests the need to replace perceptions of old age as either a negative burden or a positive asset towards a period of balancing between gains and losses. Furthermore, we acknowledge the role of second couplehood in older peoples’ wellbeing on the personal–micro level through love, the familial–mezzo level through care-giving and the social–macro level by reducing prejudice.
Article
Using data from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Surveys, this study investigated divorced and widowed parents' (N = 350) decision making about living arrangements after repartnering: Twenty-eight percent lived apart together (LAT) and others lived together (remarried or cohabiting). The focus was on determinants of LAT: Women, older respondents, residents of larger cities, and parents of 2 or more children are more apt to LAT. On the basis of additional qualitative interviews with LAT respondents (n = 25), the reasons for LAT were investigated. Data showed that many children are involved in pure boundary work in an effort to guarantee the continuation of their family. Other (step)children use the sabotage or refusal types of boundary work, not accepting the new partner or excluding a parent from contact, especially with grandchildren. Many of these efforts are successful. To preserve the ties with their children, parents often adapt their decision making about the living arrangements with a new partner accordingly.
Article
Dating in later life is likely common, especially as the proportion of older adults who are single continues to rise. Yet there are no recent national estimates of either the prevalence or factors associated with dating during older adulthood. Using data from the 2005-2006 National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationally representative sample of 3,005 individuals ages 57-85, the authors constructed a national portrait of older adult daters. Roughly 14% of singles were in a dating relationship. Dating was more common among men than women and declined with age. Compared to non-daters, daters were more socially advantaged. Daters were more likely to be college educated and had more assets, were in better health, and reported more social connectedness. This study underscores the importance of new research on partnering in later life, particularly with the aging of the U.S. population and the swelling ranks of older singles.
Article
Understanding attitudes toward marriage at older ages is increasingly important as young adults delay marriage and large numbers of people return to the marriage market after divorce. This study examines age differences in the desire to marry among singles age 18 to 69 years, taking into account selection into marriage. Using data drawn from the General Social Survey (GSS), multinomial regressions show that single men and women age 55 to 69 years have less desire to marry than younger single men and women. This age difference in single people's desire to marry is not fully explained by differences in factors that are likely to affect the real or perceived gains from marriage, such as personal resources, children, experience of divorce, or religiosity.
Article
This article investigates differences in marital quality in Black and White marriages. The specific focus is the role of spousal behavior and how this differs by race. Using national sample data, the author found several things. First, there are significant differences in marital quality across race. This is a general finding that has been reported in previous research. Second, Blacks and Whites differentially characterize their spouses. Blacks are significantly more likely to report that the spouse has affairs, hits or pushes, wastes money, or does not make them feel loved. Therefore, an important reason for race differences in marital quality is that Blacks and Whites experience different levels of positive and negative behavior from their spouses. These factors completely explain the association of race and marital quality. The author concludes with a discussion of implications for future research.
Article
An analysis of declines in health and the onset of disability and their links to marital quality using longitudinal data revealed that decreases in health were associated with declines in marital quality but that the onset of disability was linked to enhanced marital quality. Self-reports of declines in health had modest effects on marital quality, whereas reports that individuals' spouses experienced declines in health were related to more extensive damage to marital quality. This was especially true when wives were reporting health declines in their husbands. Husbands' reports of wives' disability were linked to increases in marital quality. When reporting on husbands' disabilities, wives did not report increases in marital quality. As hypothesized, stage in the life course did moderate the associations observed. Specifically, health decrements were associated with greater changes in marital quality among the young and middle aged than among an older cohort.
Article
We review research on families and health published between 2000 and 2009 and highlight key themes and findings from innovative, methodologically rigorous studies. Whereas research in prior decades focused primarily on whether family structure affects child and adult health, contemporary research examines the contextual and processual factors that shape for whom, for which outcomes, and under what conditions families affect mental and physical health. We discuss how family structure, transitions, and processes within families of origin affect children's health over the life course. We then examine the effects of marital status, transitions, and quality for adult health. We point out limitations in current research, discuss implications of recent findings for policy, and highlight theoretical and methodological directions for future research.
Article
Research on the relationship between cohabitation and mental health tends to ignore social psychological factors that help explain mental health differences between the married and the unmarried, including coping resources and perceived relationship quality. In this paper I draw on social psychological theory and research to clarify differences in depression and alcohol use between married and cohabiting individuals. Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households, I examine the independent and combined influences of socioeconomic status, coping resources, and relationship quality to account for marital status differences in distress. I find that marital status differences in coping resources and relationship quality help explain the gap in depression, but not in alcohol use, between married and cohabiting individuals. I also find that social selection is not responsible for marital status differences in distress. The implications of these findings for future research on cohabitors' mental health are discussed.
Article
Traditionally, marriage has been the social institution for couples that have been together for a long period. Some decades ago non-marital cohabitation began to appear in the western world as a new social institution. ‘Living apart together’– the LAT relationship – is a more recent phenomenon, which seems to have the potential of becoming the third stage in the process of the social transformation of intimacy. In contrast to couples in ‘commuting marriages’, who have one main household in common, couples living in LAT relationships have one household each. This article presents data on the frequency of LAT relationships in Sweden and Norway, and explores the variation which exists within LAT relationships. The article argues that the establishment of LAT relationships as a social institution requires the prior establishment of cohabitation as a social institution.
Article
Using data from the 1987-1988 National Survey of Families and Households, we evaluate the extent to which cohabitation is similar to marriage. The quality of recently formed cohabiting and marital relationships among Black and White Americans ages 19 to 48 is investigated in an effort to advance our understanding of the meaning of cohabitation relative to marriage. Controlling for relationship duration and demographic characteristics of the respondent, we find that cohabitors in general report poorer relationship quality than their married counterparts. However, cohabitors' marriage plans largely explain the difference in relationship quality of cohabitors and marrieds. The majority of cohabitors report plans to marry their partner, and these cohabitors are involved in unions that are not significantly different from marriages. In fact, cohabitors report more frequent interaction with their partners than do marrieds. The relationship quality of marrieds and cohabitors with plans to marry is affected in the same way by the presence of potential sources of stress such as biological children, children from past unions, and prior union experience.
Article
In this study, the authors examine the effect of gender ideology on marital happiness in later life. Studies of marital satisfaction in later life have tended to neglect such attitudes, although they have received increasing attention in the literature on younger marriages. The authors use data from married individuals who range in age from 51 to 92 years old and are members of the 1994 Iowa Youth and Families Project. Results indicate that those who hold egalitarian attitudes report significantly higher levels of marital happiness than do those with more traditional attitudes. However, this effect is only significant for men.
Article
Among other benefits of marriage, spouses are particularly well suited for providing sick or personal care due to proximity and motivation. Yet, spouse care may vary by gender: Women are less likely to be married, especially at older ages, and personal care may be associated with traditional gender expectations. Using data for a representative sample of middle-aged and older persons, this article poses two questions. First, who is expected, by married and unmarried men and women, to provide personal care? Second, how does the gender of the individual or of children structure expectations for care? For married persons, particularly in high-quality marriages, spouses are likely care providers. However, for women, spouse help is less reliably available, and other sources, particularly children, are more available. Unmarried persons are more likely to mention 'no one' and have a wider variety of expected sources of sick care, but children are the modal choice.
Article
Previous research suggests a U-shaped pattern of marital happiness over the life course, with happiness declining in the early years of marriage and rising in the later years. Most prior studies have been limited by the use of cross-sectional data or nonprobability samples. In contrast, the present study is based on data from a national, 17-year, 5-wave panel sample. Using cross-sectional data from the first wave, we replicate the U-shaped relationship between marital happiness and marital duration. In an analysis based on a fixed-effects pooled time-series model with multiple-wave panel data, we find declines in marital happiness at all marital durations and no support for an upturn in marital happiness in the later years. The relationship between marital happiness and marital duration is slightly curvilinear, with the steepest declines in marital happiness occurring during the earliest and latest years of marriage. When other life-course variables are controlled, a significant negative effect of marital duration on marital happiness remains. For most marriage cohorts, marital happiness declined more in the 1980s than in the 1990s, suggesting a period effect. This study provides evidence that the U-shaped pattern of marital happiness over the life course is an artifact of cross-sectional research and is not typical of U.S. marriages.
Article
This paper examines the consequences of repartnering upon the social embeddedness of older adults' lives. The starting hypotheses, that repartnering is a stressful life event and is incompletely institutionalised, are examined using the NESTOR longitudinal survey data from The Netherlands on 4,449 respondents aged 55–89 years, together with in-depth interviews of 46 adults aged 50 or more years who had repartnered in later life. The results indicate that more repartnered older adults choose unmarried cohabitation and to ‘live apart together’ than remarriage. It was also found that when two partners come together, while not surprisingly their social networks become larger than those of separated older adults who do not enter a new relationship, less positively the quality of the subjects' relationships with their children was negatively affected. The older adults who opted for unmarried cohabitation and ‘living apart together’ relationships tended to have the weakest bonds with their children, principally for reasons associated with stress and (financial) insecurity.
Article
This study explores how cohabitation differs for older and younger adults, drawing on data from 966 cohabitors in each of the first 2 waves of the National Survey of Families and Households. Older cohabitors report significantly higher levels of relationship quality and stability than younger cohabitors, although they are less likely to have plans to marry their partners. Few differences were found in the reasons to cohabit, although assessing compatibility is a more important reason for younger cohabitors. Findings suggest that older cohabitors are more likely to view their relationship as an alternative to marriage, whereas younger cohabitors are more likely to view their relationship as a prelude to it.
Article
Although the positive association between religiosity and life satisfaction is well docu-mented, much theoretical and empirical controversy surrounds the question of how religion actually shapes life satisfaction. Using a new panel dataset, this study offers strong evidence for social and participatory mechanisms shaping religion's impact on life satisfaction. Our findings suggest that religious people are more satisfied with their lives because they regu-larly attend religious services and build social networks in their congregations. The effect of within-congregation friendship is contingent, however, on the presence of a strong reli-gious identity. We find little evidence that other private or subjective aspects of religiosity affect life satisfaction independent of attendance and congregational friendship.
Article
Substantial proportions of people enter into new partner relationships after bereavement or divorce. Nowadays in Europe, unmarried cohabitation and living-apart-together relationships are frequently opted for at repartnering. Drawing on the Netherlands’ Living Arrangements and Social Networks survey of men and women aged 55 to 89 years (N = 4,494), this article explicates the determinants that lead widowed or divorced people to enter into old and new types of partner relationships. Cox proportional hazard regression analyses revealed that age at most recent union dissolution, the number of partner dissolutions, working during and after the most recent union dissolution, and other demographic variables are important in weighing the pros and cons of different types of living arrangements.
Article
There is an ‘urban myth,’ nevertheless widely held, that in widowhood, women grieve and men replace. Indeed, demographic data indicate that older widowed men are more likely to remarry than older widowed women. This article reports a small-scale study of twenty-five widows and twenty-six widowers over the age of sixty-five in the UK. The study focuses on the choices and constraints in the making of new dyadic relationships and how men and women differ in their approaches to them. What emerges from the interview data is a complex picture of friendship and partnership networks which are age- and gender-specific. For most of the widows, some of whom were living by themselves for the first time, being alone was perceived as a sense of liberation. They were unwilling to relinquish it as a trade-off for companionship with caring responsibilities. For the widowers, loneliness was viewed more as a sense of deprivation after a life of being cared for by a woman in whom they had concentrated their emotional existence.
Article
The rapid growth in cohabitation in recent decades has coincided with a burgeoning literature on the topic. Yet despite a sustained increase in cohabitation among middle-aged and older adults, this group has received little research attention. Close relationships are integral to well-being and the quality of these relationships has consequences for health, especially among older adults. We use data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a nationally representative sample of 3005 people ages 57–85 to compare the relationship quality of older cohabitors versus marrieds. The two groups are remarkably similar. Cohabitors and marrieds do not significantly differ in their reports of emotional satisfaction, pleasure, openness, time spent together, criticism, and demands. Cohabitors are less likely than marrieds to report that their relationship is very happy. There is some evidence of gender by union type differences. Cohabiting unions among older adults tend to be of relatively long duration. Overall, these results indicate that cohabitation may operate as an alternative to marriage for older adults.
Article
Despite the rapidly increasing prevalence of cohabitation among older adults, the caregiving literature has exclusively focused on formally married individuals. Extending prior work on intra-couple care, this study contrasts frail cohabitors' patterns of care receipt from a partner to that of frail spouses. Using nationally representative panel data from the Health and Retirement Study (2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006), we estimate random effects cross-sectional times series models predicting frail cohabitors' likelihood of receiving partner care compared with their married counterparts'. Conditional on the receipt of intra-couple care, we also examine differences in marital and nonmarital partners' caregiving hours and caregiving involvement relative to other helpers. Net of sociodemographic, disability, and comorbidity factors, we find that cohabitors are less likely to receive partner care than married individuals. However, caregiving nonmarital partners provide as many hours of care as spouses while providing a substantially larger share of disabled respondents' care than marital partners. Cohabitation and marriage have distinct implications for older adults' patterns of partner care receipt. This study adds weight to a growing body of research emphasizing the importance of accounting for older adults' nontraditional union forms and of examining the ramifications of cohabitation for older adults' well-being.
Article
This study uses data from the 1992 Health and Retirement Study to examine gender differences in marital power and marital quality among older adults and to assess whether there are gender differences in the correlates of marital quality and marital power in later life. Results show that women report lower marital happiness, marital interaction, and marital power than do men, on average. These differences persist even after controlling for a number of life-course events and transitions. Further, results show that gender differences are also evident in the relationship of employment, childrearing, caregiving, and health factors with marital quality and power.
Article
This study contrasts 2-year adjustments in disabled husbands' and wives' amount of received care following both worsening and recovery in personal (activities of daily living [ADLs]) and routine care (instrumental activities of daily living [IADLs]) disability. Using longitudinal data on 789 husbands and 778 wives from the Health and Retirement Study (2000 and 2002), changes in marital partners' monthly hours of spousal and nonspousal care were jointly modeled using bivariate Tobit models. In addition, asymmetry in the magnitude of responses to worsening and improvement of function was examined. Disabled husbands receive more hours of spousal and nonspousal care following worsening in ADL function than wives. Conversely, disabled wives lose more spousal and nonspousal care hours following improvements in ADL disability than husbands. Moreover, wives recovering in ADL function lose more hours of spousal care than they receive following worsening in personal care disability. There is no evidence of corresponding gender differences in the dynamics of assistance received following changes in IADL function. Compared with husbands, disabled wives are disadvantaged in the adjustment of their personal care hours. Although disabled married community residents receive more hours of care than their unmarried counterparts, there are important gender differences in the advantages offered by marriage.
Article
Social theorists working with concept of ‘risk society’ have addressed the issue of family change, suggesting that processes of individualization mean that family relationships have become ‘elective’, which has in turn raised questions about the nature of trust and commitment in intimate relationships. The position of those who are repartnering is particularly sensitive in these respects. Their awareness of risks may render them more likely to make only contingent commitments, or may make them more anxious to achieve a relationship founded on trust and commitment. We draw on in-depth interviews with a representative sample of people in England who have repartnered from a variety of types of intimate relationship into different statuses in order to explore the management of perceived risks. We find that for most respondents repartnering is a process involving different kinds of relationships, although living-apart-together is understood as something rather different. There is little support for the risk society thesis in respect of intimate relationships in respect of rejection of commitment and absence of trust. Rather, changes in relationship status often seem to be part of the process of building trust and of achieving the goal of a rather traditional relationship. This poses challenges for policymakers as they seek to regulate different statuses in different ways.
Article
Mortality rates are lower for married individuals than they are for unmarried individuals, and marriage seems to be even more beneficial to men than women in this regard. A theoretical model of social integration and social control is developed to explain why this may occur. Drawing from this model, I hypothesize that marriage may be beneficial to health because many spouses monitor and attempt to control their spouse's health behaviors. Furthermore, the provision, receipt, and consequences of these social control efforts may vary for men and women. These hypotheses are considered with analysis of a national panel survey conducted in 1986 (N = 3617) and 1989 (N = 2867). Results show that: (1) marriage is associated with receipt of substantially more efforts to control health for men than women, (2) those who attempt to control the health of others are more likely to be female than male, (3) there is some support for the social control and health behavior hypothesis among the married, and (4) the transition from married to unmarried status is associated with an increase in negative health behavior while the transition from unmarried to married status seems to have little effect on health behavior. A theoretical explanation is developed to explain these marital status differences.
Going solo: The extraordinary rise and surprising appeal of living alone
  • E Klinenberg
A study of living apart together in Switzerland
  • I Szalma
  • O Lipps
Do reasons for living apart affect intentions to live together? A comparison by age and gender
  • A Lewin
Spouses caring for spouses: Untangling the influences of relationship and gender
  • E P Stoller
  • C S Miklowski