On Living Apart Together

Updated on Feb 15, 2008 02:08 PM IST

While a debate still rages over the marriage versus live-in relationship issue in India, the West has moved on to a new concept.

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Hindustan Times | ByDeepa Gahlot, Mumbai

In Mumbai, while a debate still rages over the marriage versus live-in relationship issue, the west has moved on to a new concept - living apart together, referred to as LAT. If anything has an official tag and makes it to the Wikipedia, then it's time to take a look at it.

Virginia Woolf had dreamed of a ‘room of one's own', for a woman, as being true to her creative self. But in modern times, British actress, Helena Bonham Carter and her husband, Tim Burton, and many other couples have taken it further to ‘a home of one's own'.

Together yet apart
They are together, but live in different homes and profess that this arrangement suits them fine.

LAT is an urban phenomenon, confined to people of independent means and views, who can afford separate homes. Either that. Or single parents who cannot afford a home large enough to accommodate a new family, but want to be in a committed relationship.

It wouldn't work for people who get married or are in a steady relationship, just for the sake of being a part of a nuclear family unit and raise kids. But it works for couples who file for divorce and get into new relationships even when they are older.

Set in their ways
These couples may have grown-up kids who have moved out, or they may not have children. But they may still want the emotional stability of a committed relationship without the messy adjustment of living together, especially if they're used to an independent lifestyle - set in their ways, as it's said about people in the older age bracket.

There are, of course, those whose careers take them to different cities and are forced into long-distance relationships. But LAT applies to couples who're living in the same city or even the same neighbourhood or building, but decide it's best to be together in a marriage or commitment.

For convenience sake, they maintain separate households. Privately, many couples, even happily married ones, will admit that their lives would be richer if they didn't have to live together.

Tolerance levels
Over a period of time, if the marriage survives the initial difficult years of adjustment, it generates tolerance for one another's irritating habits and quirks. Two persons may develop different interests, careers or lifestyles as they grow older.

For instance, one may want to work out of home, the other likes to entertain a lot; one may like to go out partying.. the other might want to stay home and read; one may turn into a compulsive keepeverything-in-order type.. the other is messy .

They may love each other and want the marriage to work out but may not want to share the same home. For them, voila, there's LAT. It even keeps the romance alive, just being able to say, once in a while, "Your place or mine?" Your place, my place.

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