ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – For more and more older Americans who’ve been married before, their new over-60 relationship is different.
Dr. Jacquelyn Benson with the University of Missouri has a term for it: living apart together, mature adults in committed relationships who do not live together. Dr. Benson says some of it is about maintaining their own independence or not wanting to merge households. She says many of the couples she interviewed were quite satisfied with the arrangement.
“How focused they are on just living in the present and limiting their expectations and not putting a lot of pressure on their relationship, on their partner and we tend to do that in marriages,” she says.
One downside, however, is not really discussing end of life issues.
“Where do they fit in in the wider family network as far as being present at their partner’s bedside, perhaps if they’re ill? Are they accepted as kin in that way, as family kin? Do they get to be a part of that decision making just as much as anyone else?”
Benson says those who’ve dealt with these issues already were quite negative on that aspect. Another issue older adults face is what to call that significant other to whom they’re neither married to or living with. She says most couples felt silly introducing a 70-year-old as a boyfriend or girlfriend.
“It’s a really frustrating exercise for them, because ‘friend’ doesn’t particularly convey they fact that they are intimate partners, that it is a romantic relationship, and they also default to boyfriend and girlfriend, although the vast majority dislike using those terms because they see that as a reference to youth culture. Referring to their 70-year-old boyfriend or girlfriend just seems odd to them because they’re not a girl and they’re not a boy,” she says.
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