When we think of marriage, we generally think of two people dedicating themselves to the commitment to each other for life. But is that really the way it’s supposed to be?
Marriages and relationships haven’t always looked like this. In the past, and to this day in some cultures, marriage looks entirely different, sometimes with multiple partners, and sometimes with no permanent partners at all. Perhaps it stands to reason, then, that the best relationship model is something between those two.
What is an Apartnership?
We’ve been programmed, or conditioned, to view relationships in accordance with a strict, binary definition. Because our societal view of marriage is such a rigid and unchanging model, literally set in stone, it suits some and not others. Those for whom the current marriage model is not a good fit either divorce, or suffer unfulfilled lives.
Is there another way? Is there a more flexible way to share your life with a loved one, but do so in mutually agreeable terms? In other words, is there an alternative marriage model?
There are two primary reasons for the breakdown of a happy marriage. The first is the desire to have control of your own space. The second is the desire of one or both partners to have wider sexual experiences. Both of these can lead to the kind of resentment that can sink a relationship.
Enter the ‘apartnership.’ It’s a trend that is gaining ground, mainly amongst older couples, but I believe it could benefit countless couples of any age and background. What is it? Well, as the name suggests, it’s a relationship in which the partners love each other as in a normal marriage, but live apart.
In this model, in every respect, it’s a perfectly stable and healthy marriage, but one in which the partners don’t live together. Hence, ‘apartner.’ Partners, apart.
In this emerging relationship dynamic, you and your partner can be together when you want to, and be alone when you want to. That means the time that you choose to spend together will always be quality time, and neither of you has to let each other’s rules and irritations distract you from being together.
This offers the opportunity to begin discussing the widening of sexual experiences, perhaps laying the foundation for a healthy open marriage without resorting to what would conventionally be called ‘cheating.’ In doing so, the excitement and exhilaration of the early stages of a relationship are both nurtured for longer, reinvigorating the core relationship with your apartner.
The current cultural climate puts a lot of pressure in the concept of individuality and independence, and by the time most of us find ourselves at marriage age, we do so because we’ve built our lives up to be in a strong position. Giving that away, or to have to share the independence you worked so hard for, can be incredibly difficult. If you, like millions of others, want to retain that independence, a married apartnership might be just the way to do it.
Does Living Apart Together Work?
Apartnerships, otherwise know as LAT (Living Apart Together) relationships, won’t necessarily work in every situation and for every couple. There are logistical considerations: not every couple can afford to maintain two houses, for example, or for the sake of childcare both parents need to be fully present at all times. It also comes with risks. For example, you might find yourself wondering if your partner has suggested an LAT arrangement as a stepping stone to a divorce. In that case, your relationship has deeper problems that need to be addressed. You also need to trust each other a great deal to avoid jealousy or animosity, and both of you need to be excellent and honest communicators.
Marriage is no longer a one-size-fits-all model. Times are changing, people are marrying later, having kids older, and the relationship dynamics are not keeping up. A living alone together dynamic might just be exactly what we need now, and in the near future.