Yours, Mine And Two Different Houses?
Q: My partner and I are engaged. We both have children from our previous marriages. He wants to stay in his house with his kids and wants me to do the same with mine. He loves and is committed to me but doesn’t want all of us living in the same house. Is this a good idea?
A: A new family form called “Living Apart Together” (LAT), which is becoming increasingly popular, involves two adults who are in a committed relationship (married or unmarried) maintaining separate residences. One “Living Apart Together” married couple who each had children from a previous marriage have lived for 12 years in separate condos (him upstairs, her downstairs). The wife described the advantages/disadvantages:
1. Easier stepfamily adjustment.
“When our kids were young, they had difficulty accepting their new stepparents and stepsiblings. Not forcing the children to live in the same house avoided many of the problems stepfamilies often have in getting along with each other,” she explains.
2. Self-expression and comfort.
“We have very different tastes in furniture, decor, and temperature. With two separate places, we can each furnish and decorate our homes according to our individual styles. And, we can set the heat or air conditioning according to our own preferences.”
3. Space and privacy.
“Having two places enables each of us to have space to ourselves. This not only provides a measure of privacy for us individually, but also as a couple. When we have overnight guests, we let them stay in the downstairs condo, and we stay in the upstairs condo. This arrangement gives our guests ample space, and also gives us private couple time apart from our guests.”
4. Different needs for social and family contact.
“With separate residences, we can each control the amount of social and family contact with have. If one of us wants to provide temporary or long-term housing to a friend or family member, we have the freedom to do so without imposing on our spouse.”
5. Leaving inheritances to children from previous marriages.
“Having separate residences allows us to leave our residential property to our children from our first marriages without displacing our surviving spouse.”
6. In the event of divorce…
“Our marriage is stable and happy, and we do not envision ever getting divorced. Nevertheless, our living apart together lifestyle means that if we did get divorced, we would not have to decide whether to sell the property (in which case we both would have to find another place to live) or whether one of us would buy the other one out. If we divorced, we would each maintain ownership of our respective condos, which would greatly simplify the divorce process.”
“The main disadvantage is the expense. Having two separate places is more expensive than having one. But if you can afford it, living in separate homes avoids a lot of problems and has many benefits. Many of our married friends and family members have told us they envy our living arrangements.”
If you are willing to consider your partner’s suggestion, it might be best to have an upfront discussion about how often you will be together and at whose home? Where will you sleep? Have meals? Can you afford to maintain two homes? “Living apart together” can work for married couples, but only if both partners are happy with the arrangement.
Tell us what you think in the comments! Has such a living arrangement worked for you? If so, what effects has it had on your relationship?