It’s February, and time for romance. Lately, Cupid has been shooting off some new-fangled arrows.
Instead of targeting couples with dreams of marriage, the new darts aim for a fast-growing demographic trend called Living Apart Together. LAT, as it’s called for short, marries intimacy with autonomy.
I learned about Living Apart Together from a Northampton Neighbors volunteer. In the course of casual chit-chat, she told me she was in a committed relationship with a boyfriend who lived in a separate apartment.
How perfect was that? I’d grown up singing along to “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore, and, fortunately, had married a man who valued my independence. Sadly, my late husband Fred was suffering from a cruel disease called frontotemporal dementia.
My NN volunteer’s visit gave me hope. Maybe, sometime down the road, I, too, could have a honey without all the stress that came from living together. I’d had my share of caregiving and commingling finances. Been there, done that. Adios. Never again. The moral of the story: You never know what kind of life-altering lessons can come from a casual exchange with a volunteer from Northampton Neighbors!
My dreams of LAT became a reality when I met Rick, a widower who had tenderly cared for his late wife, Nancy. I told him that I’ve gotten long-term-care insurance, made a cousin my health-care proxy, and plan to age in place on the first floor of my house with private caregivers, if need be, on the second floor, so he doesn’t need to worry about my care. As for his care, I’d like to be involved, but not in a 24/7 kind of way.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I realize how fortunate I am to be in an LAT relationship and financially set to age in place. Everyone should be so lucky!
Joan Axelrod-Contrada is a freelance writer, NN member and volunteer, and unofficial dating coach. Send comments and questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org