please do not quote
love him too much. And therefore I do not want to share home
is said by a middle aged woman, who is divorced and has met
a new man. Most of us are used to think about closeness and
love to be grounds for living together, but her reaction is
the opposite. She does not want to live together with him
since she fears that their love would disappear by everyday
will here challenge the idea of couples living together as
married or in cohabitanting relationship. Living Apart Together
or LAT relationships can be seen as alternatives to common
household living arrangements. I will present some quantitative
as well as qualitative data about LAT relationships and discuss
whether this phenomenon will be a social institution alongside
the social institutions of marriage and cohabitation. Thus
I will argue that in some countries we have these three phenomena
as social institutions in parallel.
definition of a LAT relationship is a couple, that does not
share household, each of the two lives in his or her own household,
in which other persons also might live, they define themselves
as a couple and they perceive that their close surrounding
also does so.
term LAT was first known in the Netherlands where a Dutch
journalist, Michel Berkiel, wrote an article in the Haagse
Post in 1978 about a phenomenon he had observed and in which
he lived with the person he loved. While he was writing the
article, he asked his colleagues in the morning meeting of
the newspaper if they could help him with a good title for
thiS article he was writing. Someone suggested to name it
after a recent movie shown in the Netherlands at that time:
Eva and Frank; Living Apart Together. Living Apart Together
was too long a title or a name and therefore he used the acronym:
LAT or lat which already was a word in the Netherlands (meaning
stick) and which made it also easier to be accepted. The Netherlands
is the only country as far as we know where the term LAT or
lat is integrated in the everyday language.
the Scandinavian countries the term særbo in
Norwegian and särbo in Swedish has now become
known terms; however more in Sweden than in Norway.
a phenomenon is given a name, is labelled, the phenomenon
becomes visible and thus it will be regarded as existing.
Once named, the phenomenon is not only existing but there
will also be values connected to the phenomenon, people will
classify the phenomenon positively or negatively. When the
phenomenon no longer is perceived to be just odd or unusual,
quite a few will know persons connected to the phenomenon
and the evaluation will rapidly be positive. (cf., for example,
Strauss 1959, Stryker 1980, Levin & Trost 1996)
American woman wrote us telling about her husband with whom
she did not share household, being releaved when he read one
of our articles where the name 'LAT relation' occured. He
was not very much in favour of his wife's wish to live in
a saperate home while he stayed with his three minor children.
He was a widower and this new living arrangement did not fit
his taste - untill he realized that it had a name and everything
became more easy.
France there has been used A different term in a study by
Caradec (1996) who uses cohabitation intermittente
and cohabitation alternée. With the first
term is understood the same as what we label as LAT relationships,
i. e., a couple who lives in separate households and are looked
upon as a couple by others and by themselves. The latter term,
cohabitation alternée, stands for a cohabitation where
they alternate between the two dwellings. This study shows
that nearly six per cent of the adult population in Paris
were living in LAT relationships.
Germany Schneider (1996) calls iT 'partners with different
households' or Partnerschaften mit getrennten Haushalten
in German. Included in his study are only LAT relationships
that have lasted for at least one year. The study is rather
special as it contains of a majority of "young adults
who are under education, mainly studying, or are in their
early period of gainful employment" (Schneider 1996,
p. 96, our translation). More than 10.000 persons aged 18
to 61 were interviewed in 1994, he found that nine per cent
of the respondents were LAT relationships. One can say that
quite a few of the LAT relationships in Germany are what traditionally
would have been labelled as "going steady" (see
under Changing Norms).
the USA the discussion about LAT relationships are just beginning.
There, but also other places use the term commuting marriage/cohabitation
interchangeably with dual-household or dual-residence living
as by, for example, Winfield (1985). Our distinction between
on one side commuting marriage/cohabitation and on the other
side LAT relationships is closely connected to the household
or domesticity issue. If the two live in one household
and one (or both of them) has an overnight or second apartment
where he or she stays when away from home for usually
work or studies, we are talking about a commuting marital/cohabitational
relationship. In order to be a LAT relationship, they need
to have two households, meaning two residences.
research project consists of two different data collection
methods. One is a quantitative approach. Another is a qualitative
part where we have studied what sorts of LAT relationships
there are, and also how persons living in LAT relationships
define and perceive their relationships.
of our quantitative data comes from Sweden where we have collected
data at three different times. The first was in August 1993
where SKOP (Skandinavisk Opinion) included some of our questions
in one of its monthly omnibuses, with a probability sample
of 1,021 inhabitants in Sweden aged 18 - 74 years. The same
questions were asked a probability sample of 2,121 persons
of the same age in January/February 1998, again by SKOP.
1993-omnibus study in Sweden shows that two percent of the
respondents answered positively on the question if they are
living in a LAT relationship. This means that the total number
was about 30,000 couples, or 60,000 persons. And we are here
talking about the summer of 1993. The data collection in 1998
shows that more than four percent of the population aged 18-74
were living in LAT relationships, which means at least 60,000
to 65.000 couples or 125,000 persons. Some of these couples
are same gender couples and the majority are opposite gender
the year 2000 we had a third round of data collection which
showed a slight increase since 1998 showing that five percent
of the respondents said they were living in a LAT relationship,
which means about 150.000 persons or about 75.000 couples.
the end of January 2002 we will do a similar study in Norway
connected to the Norwegian Bureau of Statistics with some
of the same questions as in the Swedish study. (Hopefully
the results will come before this article will be published)
have also some data from a rather special population in Norway,
those who were divorced in 1992 and 1995 in the Trondheim
area and data were collected in 1996, in all 473 respondents,
which corresponds to a response rate of 58 per cent. A question
about LAT relationships was included. I was participating
in this study about children and family forms. The aim is
to track the effects of divorce on children. The study was
financed by the Norwegian Research Council and the Governmental
Department for Children and Families. The study shows that
about eight per cent of the respondents in this special population
were living in a LAT relationship.
have also interviewed a number of persons living in LAT relationships;
the interviews have been in-dept interviews meaning structured
but not standardised, also called just qualitative interviews
or informal interviews (cf. Trost 1997). Persons in LAT relationships
which we have found but not been able to interview have been
given a short questionnaire, semi-standardized, which they
have answered and sent back to us.
sample is a convenience sample and we have found our informants
in various ways. At lectures or presentations when we have
mentioned LAT relationships some from the audience have approached
us. We have been interviewed in both Norwegian and Swedish
magazines and newspapers and at the end of the articles people
living in LAT relationships have been asked to contact us.
When people have asked us about our research and we have mentioned
the LAT study some have volunteered for interview and some
have told us about parents, children or friends in LAT relationships.
The age range of our informants is from about 20 years up
to about 80.
qualitative material is devided in two sub-groups:
1. those who would have lived together if there was not for
2. those who do not wish to live together even if they could
and want to remain as a couple.
will start with the patterns in the first group, those who
do not live together for special reasons but would if those
reasons were not there.
have lived together if it was not for one or more reasons
Responsibility and Care
pattern of LAT relationships is where responsibility for other
persons is of major important. The feeling of responisbilty
is so important that they do not want that a relationship
to another person should intervene with that. I am here thinking
of responsibility and care for children still living at home
and for older parents.
another person moves into the apartment or one moves away
to another apartment, major changes will occur. And when it
comes to relationships to older parents, one do not want to
leave them alone as this can be a way of making them move
into an old age home.
persons in this pattern one is not talking about letting the
children or the parents taking over the decition making. One
is more looking at the relationship to the new partner unrelated
to the relationship they have with their children and their
parents. One does not have to move everyone into the
same living arrangement.
in this pattern look upon the couple ralationship as an
addition to the relationships one already have
and not in stead of other relationships. This does
not mean that the relationship to a partner can exchange the
relationships one have to for instance, the children. These
relationships are very different and this is made easier by
not creating a stepfamily. By keeping the household as it
is, it will also be easier to keep the relationships as they
for a parent who is not the custodian of his or her children,
to move to another household could be seen as sort of cheating
the children, to leave the child's parental home for another
adult. An example:
example is about a couple who were first unmarried LAT and
later become married and kept their LAT relationship until
both their children had moved out of the households. Fred
is 56 years old and Freda 51 at time of the interview. They
met ten years ago when Fred's three children lived at home
with him under his custody. The children were when the two
met 14, 16 and 20 years old. Freda had two children, ten and
14 years old of which she had custody and the ex-husband took
care of the children over every second weekend and some holidays.
Both Fred and Freda were immediately sure that they should
not move in together until the children had grown up and left
their parents' homes. During these ten years from they met
until they were interviewed they both lived in the same city
at a distance of only about 15 minutes by public transportation.
after they met and fell in love with each other they felt
as a couple, but it took about a year until they were in a
LAT relationship according to their view at the time of the
interview. At the beginning of the relationship they stayed
over night at each other's home mainly over weekends. To start
with they did not tell their children about the true relationship
but introduced each other to the children as old and good
friends. Neither of them wanted to push the other or to be
pushed onto the children. After some time the children on
both sides accepted the parent's new relationship.
years ago Freda and Fred married and they are still living
in a LAT relationship at the time of the interview. We later
learned that they now live together after ten years of LAT
relationship. Her parents died and they inherited some money
which they used to build a house together. At that time all
the children were out of the household.
it comes to caring for elderly parents, LAT relationship can
also be a solution where they both continue their responsibility
and care and keep the relationship to the new partner. They
might have lived in close contact with their parents for many
years. They might like it or not, but they have accepted it
as a solution until the elderly mother or father dies or becomes
severely ill and then there are no other solutions than long
many to take care of elderly or disabled parents is closely
connected to their high standard of responsibility. If they
do not do so, they will have guilt feelings for not behaving
according to their own standards of responsibility and morals.
For some it is a way of "reimbursing" the older
generation for what it has done for the child when growing
up, perhaps the respondent had received help and support with
his or her own children. Thus they might prefer to stay in
their usual surroundings, continue their responsibility for
the elderly person and in addition keep the LAT relationship
with the partner who is living in another household. Otherwise
the person would have had to choose between the old parent
and the partner. Now they have both.
feeling of responsibilty and care is in this pattern connected
to previous relationships one has had before one meet a new
partner. In these two examples they know they are or rather
they percieve they are significant others for their children
and parents. If they do not follow their feeling of responsibilty,
they might get feelings of guilt as a result. Therefore they
choose to both live with their children repsectively
their parent and keeping the relationship with their
partner. For them there is not a situation of either or
but both and. Care and responsibility for others are
here more important than care and responsibility for oneself
or that care for others is a way of caring for oneself.
work or study in different places
many ways, the next pattern contains more or less the same
way of thinking as the previous one. Persons belonging to
this pattern do not want to choose between the partner and
the job, therefore they decide to keep both. The consequence
is that they live in two households. This might be looked
upon as more temporary, according to their own perception
since their job situation might change. Both the relationship
and the job are important for them and they want to continue
with both. If they moved to the partner's site, they know
they would not have the same opportunities. This might not
be a question of money. Even if the other person can support
her or him, they would not accept it. To be independent is
looked upon as of high importance. This is what some might
call a tendency toward individualisation or individuation.
A century ago, and even half a century ago, people could hardly
act the same way as they can now. Individuation can be a tendency
in mind but it can also be just a nowadays permitted behaviour.
Previously the question was more often for one of the couple
to chose between the job and the partner. Often it was phrased
as a way to show love: "If you love me enough, you have
to move to my place." Here the job is in a competing
position with the partner. One should choose one of them,
Previously, there would have been social expectations on the
woman to move to the site of the man, she were to give up
her job and her friends. Now it is accepted that she can keep
her job and her friends as well as her relationship with children,
parents and other relatives and at the same time be in a relationship
with a man with separate dwellings.
pattern also includes students who study in different places.
We were somewhat chocked when we recieved answers from students
defining themselvs as LAT partners. We, in our old fashion
way, saw them more as 'going steady' - a way of seeing the
relationship as not so serious and using the traditional system
as the model (Trost 1979) However, the students could tell
us that if it was not for the studies, they would have lived
together, meaning being a cohabiting couple. Since the studies
are preventing them from that, they define themselves as LAT
partners. Cohabitation as a social phenomenon has changed
the definition of the situation for them relative to what
would have been the case before cohabitation became a social
institution. Our material consists only of persons defining
themselves as living in a LAT relationship. This means that
we have no access to any data from persons defining themselves
as going steady. It would have been interesting to compare
those defining themselves as in a LAT relationship with those
who do not.
for them the LAT situation is a temporary one with their perspective
for the future. When they graduate one will move to the other
and the two households will merge and hopefully they will
find jobs in the same place.
the technological situation today, the world is getting smaller
and smaller. Telephones, faxes, e-mails, air planes, all make
it easy to keep in contact with persons living far away. Some
of our informants live even on different continents, like
one of our couples: she in Norway and he in Malaysia. For
some periods she has lived with him in Malaysia and he with
her in Oslo. They both define the two homes as theirs in common,
but pay the expenses separately.
couples look upon life as a process that changes all the time.
How it will end, is not decided upon. What is sure for them
is that they will find a solution. Their decisions are only
made for a specified or somewhat unspecified period. When
their working situation changes, they might also change their
living arrangements. At the same time they are aware of that
to move to the partner's home and site might very well mean
to loose a lot of the friendships and the social network at
home as well as contacts with children and grandchildren.
next group is of a different kind than the first one. For
them the LAT relationship is the prefered living arrangement
while for the first group they really do not want to be in
a LAT relationship if they could have chosen not to.
who do not wish to live together even if they could and still
want to remain as a couple.
Don't want to repeat a mistake
introduction of this article starts with an example of a woman
who does not want to live with the man she loves because she
is afraid the relationship would not survive. How can one
understand this? The pattern consists of persons who choose
this way of living as a solution closely connected to their
perception of the reason for the break-up of the former marriage
or cohabitation. They have all the experience of living for
many years as one person in a couple relationship - a
living situation that ended in a divorce or separation. If
they are going to try again, important will be to arrange
the situation in such a way that the same will not happen.
When they are to try a new relationship, they use their analysis,
either explicitly or implicitly, of what went wrong in the
former living arrangement, the marriage or cohabitation. And
they will arrange their situation in order to avoid a new
woman from the start of the article had previously been married
for 23 years and had three children in that marriage. When
her husband asked for divorce because he had started a relationship
with his secretary, her whole world broke into pieces.
she managed to pull herself together again, bought an apartment
and found meaning in her life as a mother, a grandmother and
a professional woman. After a while she started to like her
new situation and enjoyed the freedom of being responsible
for herself only. Her freedom was not connected to going out
to meet new men, but to do want she wanted as she metaphoricaly
stated as not having to "prepare potatoes" every
day (perhaps also concretly meant). This freedom she used
to join her colleagues for a glass of beer after work.
she met a man whom she fell in love with. He was living half
an hour away with car and he wanted that they should be like
ordinary couples, meaning living in the same household.
she was concerned of not doing the same mistake again. The
divorce was such a chock for her that she would do everything
an order to avoid that to happen again. Her being negative
of living with him again, was not related to lack of love
from her side. On the contrary, she says that she does not
want to tell him how much she loves him. She says that she
rather wants to live alone during the week and meet him during
week-ends and spend vacations together. She expresses herself
to the extent that she would not "dare" to combine
the two households into one during the weeks. The "daring"
is connected to her definition of the situation of what happened
when her first marriage broke up.
saw the break up of the first marriage as a result of her
not being interesting enough as a woman. Now she is afraid
of herself, she explains, referring to the expectations on
herself as a woman. He would not express or even expect any
demands on her when it comes to cooking and other household
tasks, but she knows herself very well and is afraid that
she would start to do "female activities", like
preparing food for him when he comes from work, being the
person in charge of the cosiness of the household and other
things like that.
to herself, these demands are her own and related to her perception
of herself as a woman. Since she loves him so much, she would
not risk the good relationship just to have a common household
with all the everyday life which he (or she) might define
as boring. She does not want to experience another break up.
It is her spontaneous decision to live in a LAT relationship
in order to keep the relationship and to learn the lesson
from the past experience.
answer to the question if she thinks they might move in together
one day, is that so will probably happen when she retires,
"if he still wants me".
retired persons the situation is somewhat different from the
previous pattern, but with the same result. They do not want
to live together even though they have a love relationship.
As one or both are not working any more, they would have the
possibility to move to the household of the other. If they
would decide to move together, they would have to make several
sacrifices; for example, who's furniture to bring to the others
place, which place to live in, etc. Since they both might
have lived in a one-person household for many years, a lot
of the things they own are connected to memories of important
situations from their previous lives. The things are symbols
of experiences and persons, not just dead things as some like
to look upon them - the things are important social objects
for them and such social importance should not be wasted or
left. The things around them are important for their well
being as human and social beings.
reason for not wanting to include their two households into
one common home, is their relationship with children and grandchildren
with whom they want to continue the relationships. This can
more easily be done if they keep their own household than
if they would live together in one household.
woman told us that she lives 30 km away from her partner and
she sees him every week-end and every Wednesday and they travel
on vacation together. To move in together has never been discussed
as a possibility, because she gets from the relationship what
she wants today, and why would or should she change it?
he is sick, she comes and helps him. However the same is not
happening when she is sick. Then she gets help from neighbours
and her daughter in law. She likes the situation as it is
and it has lasted for 18 years. In the beginning they talked
of moving in together. But that is not a question any more.
One of the reasons for that is mostly that they both are satisfied
with how they have it. Another thing is that she has been
increasingly hurt by him not accepting her relationship to
her disabled son. The son lives away, but when he comes home,
her partner feels that the son is prefered in stead of him.
This situation is unacceptable for the woman and she gave
him an ultimatium. Now things have cooled down again. And
she likes it as it is. One of the good things, she says, are
their Sunday dinners where she drives to a neighbouring town
and he pays. He is also very generous when it comes to gifts
for her - something she appreciates.
marriage or cohabitation to a LAT relationship
of the patterns consist of persons starting as a LAT relationship
without deciding if that should last for ever or if the LAT
relationship would go over to a cohabiting relationship, either
as married or not. For some of our interviewees, the situation
has been the other way around. They started as a married or
cohabiting couple and the LAT relationship was the solution
to a difficulties in their marriage or cohabitation. They
have lived together for several years, but have got on each
others nerves when it comes to everyday life. At the same
time, they love each other and are bound to each other. Therefore
a divorce or final separation of the relationship would not
be a good solution, not for the couple nor for their children.
To move to an apartment close by might therefore be an alternative
way of living, an arrangement that might fit their lifestyles
for the time being.
example: Paul and Paula met about 20 years ago. They soon
became a couple and started to cohabit. After a couple of
years they had their first child and some few years later
the second one. During the last few years their relationship
has become boring and they feel that they both are finding
lots of small and irritating pieces of behaviour with the
other one. They still love each other and a year before the
interview, they had decided to separate. They sold their house
and bought two new apartments just a couple of minutes walk
from each other. Their children stay with their mother but
they both spend a lot of time with their father, who also
spends a lot of time in his ex-cohabitant's apartment, which
is bigger than his. This is a way of saving the good relationship,
which otherwise would have been destroyed, according to their
are still significant others to each other and both want to
go on with their relationship but everyday life gives too
many situations disturbing the smoothness of their relationship
when living together. With the solution of two households
they hope to be able to keep the sentiments, to be good parents
to their children, and to remain each other's most significant
others. Here the LAT relationship is an alternative to divorce.
For some this solution could be a calm way to slowly divorce
without any abrupt changes for them or their children.
the 19th century two major changes happened regarding
family situations. One was divorce that became more common
and the other was cohabitation. At the end of the 1960s and
the beginning of the 1970s the marriage rates in most of the
Western world started decreasing, in some countries very rapidly,
as in Sweden and Denmark followed by Norway and Finland. In
England the development was somewhat slower than in the Nordic
countries, but not as slow as in, for example, Belgium. At
the same time cohabitation started increasing (cf. Trost 1979).
Traditionally, i. e., before 1970, four elements were closely
the marriage ceremony, moving in together, having sexual
intercourse together, having the first child about a year
later. (Trost 1993, 1998, Trost and Levin, 2000)
traditional system meant that these four elements were connected
and they should normatively stick together. With some exemptions,
the marriage ceremony and the moving in together occurred
at the same time, meaning the same day. This seems to have
been true for all Western societies and independent of official
ceremony. To start having sex together after the marriage
ceremony was also normatively prescribed. In some countries
more than in others, premarital sex was prohibited for all,
but especially for women. The norm against premarital sex
was only an ideal norm and not a behavioural norm. Norway
is a good example of this: the ideal norm prescribed chastity
before marriage but in practice almost all couples had sex
before they married. One indicator of this is that around
1960 one fourth of all brides in Norway were pregnant at time
fourth element about children being born in connection to
the wedding meaning around nine to 12 months after the merital
ceremony. Preferably and normatively, children should not
be born by not married mothers.
four elements lost their normative power. And to day they
are no longer connected to each other. This is related to
when cohabitation came and became a social institution -
in some countries that power was important, in others mere
cosmetics. When cohabitation has become a social institution
of the sort we find in, for example, the Scandinavian countries,
there is no normative or expected connection between the four
elements. In Sweden more than half of all children born and
about two thirds of all first born children, are born by a
not married mother. In Norway the numbers are a little less,
but more or less the same. What previously (and still used
in England) was called illegitimate children (In 1981 the
children's law was changed from two in Norway into one for
all children which before was devided into legitimate
and illegitimate children. From that on one talked about if
the mother was married.)
an example of this normative change, is the girl of 20 who
met a man 12 years ago and they liked each other so much that
she went home with him and stayed over night. Very rapidly
she moved in with him. After some years they decided to get
married. But some months after the marriage date was fixed,
she came to her father and told that the marriage would not
take place. Her father became sad since he liked the man and
thought he was good for his daughter. He thought that they
were breaking up. However, the daughter could reassure the
father that they wanted to marry, but at a later stage. Now
she was pregnant and did not want to be pregnant at her own
wedding. A wedding should be a day of joy where she could
drink and dance. Therefore they decided to wait till the child
was born. If this had been some 30-40 years ago, a pregnancy
would have been a reason to marry as soon as possible so the
child would have been born within the marriage.
couple is an example of the break up of the four elements:
they moved in together before they married which meant that
they had sex openly and their child was born also before the
the changes in the normative structure connected to these
four elements, LAT relationships would not have been as visible
as now and not even as many as they are. The couple would
then, traditionally, have been defined by themselves as well
as by their network as 'going steady', 'engaged to be married'
or just 'lovers'. All of these ways to define the relationship
as less definite than a LAT relationship indicates. They would
not visibly stay over night with each other. With the changes,
they now can do so without any sanctions.
the change toward cohabitation as a social institution alongside
marriage as a social institution, LAT relationships would
still not have been visible. And they would not have been
as common as they are. With the relatively high divorce and
separation rates we have in many Western countries, LAT relationships
are common and also visible, especially when cohabitation
is a social institution.
LAT relationships have occurred but certainly not as commonly
as now and they have been almost invisible. The higher the
divorce and separation rates are, the higher is the likelihood
not only for remarriages and recohabitations but also for
LAT relationships to be formed. When dealing with the formation
of a recohabiting relationship clear is that there is a household
change, either one moves in to the other or they both move
from separate households to a common household. In most cases
of remarriage, traditionally, the same happens but some few
remain in separate households.
we have seen, some couples who have lived together in a marriage
or in a cohabiting relationship, separate from a common household
to two separate households but they do not separate their
relationship; they just form a LAT relationship out of a living
marriage has been the social institution for couples that
have been together for a long period. Some decades ago a new
social institution appeared in the Western world: non-marital
cohabitation, in some countries slower than in others. These
two institutions have the common living arrangement in common.
However a third way of living by not sharing domesticity as
in, Living Apart Together, LAT relationships, is a new phenomenon.
This differs from commuting marriages, which have one household
in common, couples living in LAT relationships have one household
this study I have showed several different patterns of LAT
relationships. Here the couple is given the possibility not
to choose between, for example, the responsibility to care
for an elderly parent, one's children and one's new partner.
The pressure on a common dwelling has decreased and society
has opened up for several 'both-and' solutions. Or as Lewis
and Meredith (1989) correctly remark, some adult children
live together with a parent out of care for the parent but
also since they like to spend time with the parent. This is
connected to what Finch (1989) calls cumulative responsibilities,
responsibility for the parent and responsibility for oneself.
question frequently asked is if LAT relationships can occur
in all classes or if it is only occurring among those who
are financially well off. Our studies show that one can find
LAT relationships among all sorts of people. This does not
mean that a good financial situation makes the living situation
easier since certainly long distance LAT relationships require
more costs for telephone and travel (a good financial situation
also simplifies for those living in the same household). One
household is cheaper to maintain than are two. We would not
argue against such a statement. However, in most cases of
LAT relationships the two already have one household each
and already used to their own household expenses.
come that the number of LAT relationships has increased now
and not before? The question requires more than one answer.
One factor is the mortality rate. The lower the mortality
rate is, the higher the likelihood that only for a person
to survive longer but also, for example, to be divorced, separated
or widowed and thus also the likelihood, ceteris paribus,
for the person to start a LAT relationship as well as any
other new relationship. With a high mortality rate the marriages
were desolved by the death of one of the spouses. There was
not much need of a divorce. An indicator of this can be both
the remarriage rate and the need of a new divorce law in Norway
as well as in Sweden.
remarriages decreased depending of the closer we got to the
19th century as the mortality rate decreased. At
the same time the divorce rate increased. For example the
remarriage rate around middle of 18 hundred was about 20 per
cent in Norway while at turn of the century it had decreased
to around 15 percent (Eilert Sundt, 1975 (1885)). It continued
to decrease as we entered the new century and the lowest ever
(as far as we know) was just before the World War II with
around eight per cent of remarriages (Levin, 1994). At the
same time the divorces increased and we got a new divorce
law in 1918 in Norway and in 1916 in Sweden; both fault and
no-fault grounds for a divorce became available. And the divorce
rate went on increasing
reason for the LAT relationships to increase now is that the
labour market has changed to a higher degree of specialisation
and the educational system has followed the same tendencies.
This means that more persons have lower chances to switch
jobs and to move to a site somewhere else than where there
is a relevant and attractive job for them. This is the case
for both men and women and the tradition of women to follow
their husbands' to the place where he has a job has changed
to a very high extent. The relatively short history of housewives
is almost over in many countries and in some clearly just
a historical phenomenon. In order to really understand the
new structure of relationships such as LAT relationships,
one has to look into the processes toward equality and equity
between women and men.
the frequency of travel for vacation or for job related issues
lots of people meet others living in other places. Some of
these meetings result in couples falling in love. Many of
these relationships will last and if one or both cannot or
does not want to move they might form a long distance LAT
relationship. Travel for leisure or for work will probably
increase and not decrease even if the technology for IT communication
will develop further. On the contrary, many more couples than
now might be formed over IT communication and eventually form
LAT relationships. Thus we will probably see an important
increase in LAT relationships whether they are married or
the informal social norms prescribed that the two in a couple
should live in the same household, to have the same domesticity,
which was a sign of being a couple and a married couple. In
cases where the two could not live together, taken for granted
was that the living arrangements were only temporary. With
the high divorce rate, women's gainful employment and the
equity process, society and its norms have changed somewhat.
Tendencies toward equity in this field have had consequences
for intimacy and couple relationships (cf. Giddens 1994).
have here shown some of the variations we have found in ways
of living in a LAT relationship. There are many variations
of LAT relationships and the background of the relationship
as well as the background of the two living in the relationship
varies a lot.
decades ago, marriage was the sole social institution for
couples to organise their living. Then cohabitation came as
a "deviant" phenomenon or a new possibility and
soon became a social institution alongside marriage, another
variety, not an alternative to marriage.
cohabitation would not have come and become a social institution
LAT relationships would not have come either. One could say
that cohabitation as a social institution is a prerequisite
to LAT relationships since had the four elements mentioned
above, still been connected to each other as a social system,
LAT relationships could not exist socially. With the acceptance
of the term and with the frequent couples in LAT relationships
this form or variation of living as a couple might soon be
labelled a social institution in many more countries.
are many reasons to predict LAT relationships to be more common
in the near future. The labour market will probably not return
to the relatively simple structure it had some few decades
ago; specialisation will likely be even more common than now.
People will probably not decrease their travel for vacation
and job related issues even if IT will be more important than
previously. In fact, IT might become more common as a way
for people to meet new partners. Same gender couples might
come out of the closets even more and form cohabiting as well
as LAT relationships more visibly and more frequently. Divorce
and separation rates will probably not decrease and thus lots
of people will meet new partners. LAT relationships might
be a solution to a difficult marriage or cohabitation. The
mortality rate will probably decrease in most countries making
people live longer and be more healthy and thus more prone
to find new partners. More married and cohabiting couples
will probably try to save their relationships by separating
and thus to form LAT relationships out of shaky marriages
project is partially financially supported by SKOP and the
Swedish Social Research Council, and Magn. Bergwall's Foundation.
1968. Befolkningsförändringar (Population
changes). Stockholm: Statistiska Centralbyrån.
1995. Befolkningsstatistik (Population statistics).
Stockholm: Statistiska Centralbyrån.
V., 1996. Les Formes de la vie comjugale des "jeunes"
couple "âgés". Population, 51,
J. 1989. Family Obligations and Social Change. Cambridge:
A. 1994. Intimitetens forandring (Intimacy in change).
København: Hans Reitzels forlag.
statistik 1967. Stockholm: Statistiska Centralbyrån.
I. 1994. Stefamilien - variasjon og mangfold. Oslo:
I. & Trost J. 1996. Å forstå hverdagen
- med et symbolsk interaksjonistisk perspektiv (To understand
everyday life - with a symbolic interactionist perspective).
Oslo: Tano Aschehoug.
J. & Meredith B. 1989. Daughters who Care. London:
N. F. 1966. Partnerschaften mit getrennten Haushalten in den
neuen und alten Bundesländern. In W. Bien (ed.): Familie
an der Schwelle zum neuen Jahrtausend, Opladen: Leske
+ Budrich. 88-97.
E., 1975 (1985). Om giftermaal i Norge. Oslo: Gyldendal
A. L., 1959
Mirrors and Masks, Glencoe: The Free Press.
S. 1980. Symbolic Interaction: A Social-Structural Version.
Menlo Park, CA: Cummings.
J., 1999. LAT Relationships Now and in the Future, in Koen
Matthijs (ed.): The Family. Contemporary Perspectives and
Challenges; Festschrift in honor of Wilfried Dumon, Leuven:
Leuven University Press.
J. 1997. Kvalitativa intervjuer (Qualitative interviews),
second edition, Lund: Studentlitteratur.
J. 1995. Ehen und andere dyadische Beziehungen. In B. Nauck
& C. Onnen-Isemann (eds.). Familie im Brennpunkt von
Wissenschaft und Forschung. 343-356 Berlin: Luchterhand.
J. 1993. Familjen i Sverige (The family in Sweden),
J. 1979. Unmarried Cohabitation. Västerås:
J. And I. Levin. 2000. Särbo - ett par två
houshold, Lund: Studentlitteratur.
F. E. 1985. Commuter Marriage; Living Together, Apart.
New York: Columbia University Press.