Articles

Living Together Apart in France and the United States

Claude Martin  By the same author

      Andrew Cherlin  By the same author

      Caitlin Cross-Barnet  By the same author

Resume

AbstractUsing data from exploratory surveys conducted in parallel in the United States and France among two different socioeconomic groups, this article examines why certain couples continue to share the same home after their relationship has broken down. The authors explore how the specific features of these contemporary living arrangements differ from similar situations in the past, and propose several hypotheses about the current signification of cohabitation and the family bond (as a combination of conjugal and parenting ties). Despite very different conceptions of marriage and cohabitation in the two countries, these situations of “living together apart” (LTA) and the meaning of such LTA relationships for the persons concerned are quite similar on both sides of the Atlantic. The testimonies of LTA couples show how their conjugal trajectories are shaped by financial and material constraints, limiting access to marriage or to divorce. The respondents consider that living together apart enables both partners to fulfil their parenting role, the father especially, and protects the children from the financial consequences of divorce, especially in a social context of economic crisis.