Thursday, May 04, 2006

Better L.A.T. than Never

Remember Sabbathals?

From today's New York Times (via link from MR):

...researchers are seeing a surge in long-term, two-home relationships. They have even identified a new demographic category to describe such arrangements: the "living apart together," or L.A.T., relationship. These couples are committed to sharing their lives, but only to a point.
Remember, you heard it here first.


Tabula Rasa said...

so that's what they found from your survey?

it works, you know.

MockTurtle said...

Great! I hope LAT replaces marriage soon, so I can start seeing a rise in the value of my home. Property values will go up in the city when 1 person = 1 home.

Veena said...

Yeah yeah, read that. I am all for sabbathals as you are aware but there were some things in that piece which seemed a little strange. Did you notice that most of the people profiled seem to be a lot older and also were divorced with children? And most people who were happy abt this whole LAT thing say that they used to be stuck in relationships with people who expected them to "line up shoes in the closet with the laces tied in perfect bows"?

As for me, I prefer the weekend thing. As long as he comes in once a week, changes the light bulbs, does the laundry, washes the dishes and warms my feet if its winter, I can take care of the rest.

Zeth said...

Very Interesting post.

On a related note, I remember reading somewhere that as life expectancy increases, we would see more people engage in serial monogamy. ie assuming a marriage has a life of 30 yrs, as people live longer and more marriages have to test the 30yr mark, we would see more people getting a divorce and remarrying.

By the way I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog – excellent stuff.

PS: Veena – sounds more like a handyman than a relationship?

Heh Heh said...

um, veena..

As long as he comes in once a week, changes the light bulbs, does the laundry, washes the dishes and warms my feet if its winter, I can take care of the rest.

I'm sure you meant that in jest, but still, ouch.

I'm not exactly a huge buyer of the concept of marriage for marriage's sake, so my ears perk up when *married* people make fun of their own marriages like that. Sort of begs the question : why at all get/stay married?

Falstaff said...

tr: I doubt this from my survey. Watch out for the headline in the times that says 'Total losers found to have no life'. That one will be me.

MT: True. though it depends a little bit on what kind of home you have, I should think.

Veena: Ya, I know. I'm clinging to the fact that Woody Allen does it. And I mean okay, so these people were stupid and had to actually go through a marriage before they figured this out. I'm smarter than them already.

Also, with reference to heh heh's point - what's the big deal about changing light bulbs? Is that some kind of married people code for something exciting and obscene? I mean laundry and dishes and stuff I understand. Even warming feet I vaguely get, though think we're straying into My Fair Lady territory here. But changing light bulbs? HOw many light bulbs do you people burn through anyway? And what's so hard about changing one?

How many married people does it take to change a light bulb? Two. Because you can bet that at least one of them's not bright.

Zeth: Thanks. Now see, that's really sad. I mean the last thing you want to do is get married, spend 30 of the best years of your life with someone and then figure out that it was all a mistake. it's the kind of thing that happens in Bergman films.

Veena said...

Zeth: You get your handyman to warm your feet? Interesting.

Heh Heh: Remember, you asked for this.

Well, I didn't entirely mean that in jest. I do want him to do stuff around the house that I hate doing. Of course I love spending time with him etc. etc. but that doesn't mean he gets away doing nothing.

As for why get married, I am not sure why other people do, I don't understand the idea of marriage but I can tell you why I got married. I got sick of listening to my parents going:

"You are so old. What will we do now? All our firends' kids are married"

"Three years! You have been dating this guy for three years and still you can't get married?"

"Your grandparents so wanted to see you married. Now only one is left. Why can't you get married at least now?"

blah blah blah.....

So I figured if I didn't care about marriage one way or the other, might as well get married and make family happy. And it worked. I would be lying if I say that seeing my parents happy (though it meant I had to do something I don't necessarily believe in) doesn't really make me happy. There are limits to what I am willing to do of course and for a long time I thought marriage wasn't one of them but not anymore I guess.

Plus, okay, I don't like the marriage deal but I actually love getting 2000 people together and having one huge party(once in a lifetime only) with all sorts of traditional comedy going on - to me, the marraige is the wedding if that makes sense.

Veena said...

How many light bulbs do you people burn through anyway?

There's something wrong with the circuits in my apartment. I change two almost every week!

How many married people does it take to change a light bulb?

I have high ceilings and since both Bill and moi are vertically chanllenged as you know, it actually takes two of us. Bill on top on footstool on top of kitchen table that I have to hold.

Falstaff said...

Veena: *dabbing handkerchief to eyes* such a touchingly romantic story that. You should totally write it up and send it over to Dreamworks. I hear they're short one script anyway. Just think - you could spend the rest of your life with total strangers thinking you look like Julia Roberts.

Veena said...

Falstaff: And here I thought you would buy that :)

Yeah, thought about writing that up the second I saw heh heh's comment. But that would have proved to be too much even for me.

Heh Heh said...


I hate to hijack f's comments space over this issue. But this is an interesting topic, so here goes.

I do not claim to understand the concept of marriage very well either. I guess where we differ is that being married and not being married are NOT the same thing to me. In fact, only if such a distinction existed in one's mind would one have a preference with respect to either.

Old fashioned as it may seem, marriage to me, at least in intent, signals a higher level of commitment than a relationship itself - one that is supposed to last a lifetime. I understand your point about parental pressure (though i do not relate to it at all). But regardless of how many years one has been in a relationship, the fact remains that the marriage is intended to stay long after the parents are gone.

Your statement about a "once in a lifetime party" leads me to believe that you, too, believe that marriages are for a lifetime. And given that statement, I do not understand the point about being neutral about marriage. Let's assume that one can marry only once. If one is in a relationship, and falls in love with someone else, it is possible to close it and move on. You let go that option by getting married. How, then, can it not matter either way?

Megha said...

What is this I hear about marrying 'cos you need a lightbulb changed? Just get yourself a hot electrician. Has porn taught us nothing?

Falstaff said...

Heh heh: No, no, don't be shy about using my comments space. Apna hi ghar samjho.

For the record, I'm with Veena. If you've been in a relationship with someone for three years and haven't managed to figure out what's wrong with them, then the only way to find out may well be marriage, difficult as that choice may be to make. Also, whoah! once you're married to someone you give up the option of being with someone else forever?? What are you, Catholic?

megha: Ah, yes. The old "It was amazing! The Earth moved! The light flickered! Oh, wait."

Heh Heh said...

Its a definitional issue. To me, the escalation of commitment (to use a cliched phrase) is somewhere in the definition of a marriage.

Ex-post, you don't HAVE to spend your life with someone you married (things will always go wrong). But ex-ante, at the time when decide to marry them, you DO signal a lifetime commitment.

And a failed marriage is significantly more costly (socially speaking) than a failed relationship. If parental pressure is enough of a social threat to induce marriage, surely the relative social costs of a failed marriage vs. a failed relationship should also be factored in, no?

MockTurtle said...

Falstaff, "Also, whoah! once you're married to someone you give up the option of being with someone else forever?? "
..and that would affect you because?
Kidding of course.

Heh Heh said...

For the record, I'm with Veena. If you've been in a relationship with someone for three years and haven't managed to figure out what's wrong with them, then the only way to find out may well be marriage, difficult as that choice may be to make.

Also, I don't see how you are with Veena. I was contesting two points she made:
1. Parental pressure is enough of a reason to get married (especially if one also makes assumption 2)
2. Being married is the same as not being married.

Falstaff said...

heh: Oh god, you're not going to get all serious on me, are you?

Okay, so I agree with the argument that says that there is a difference between being married and not being married - if only because the exit costs are higher. That doesn't mean that you can't get out of it or even that you need to be signalling that you can't get out of it ex-ante, just that you're less likely to get out of it because the bar of annoyance you have to get to to make it worthwhile ending it is higher.

So yes, being married is not the same as not being married. Whether or not parental pressure / pleasure is sufficient reason to make that shift depends a little bit on your parents I suspect.

Oh, and I'm not with Veena in the sense that I agree with the logic of her arguments - it's just that I see why, having been in a relationship with someone for three years could be a sufficient reason to make you okay with incurring the additional commitment of marriage to please your parents, even if marriage didn't increase the value of the relationship per se.

The argument goes like this: Say that the (subjective) Expected Value of the Relationship is R. Then R(t=0)>R(t=-3) because the three years you were in the relationship have made you believe that the probability of the relationship lasting is higher (you can argue that that's gambler's fallacy, of course, but let's not go there). Now assume that there's a cost to any relationship C which is an increasing function of the commitment involved (you could think of this as exit cost of exiting that relationship) then Cmarriage > Cboyfriend. Further assume that there's a value to your parents from you getting married and that value is VP

The question then becomes, is VP + (R(t=0) - R(t=-3)) > Cmarriage - Cboyfriend. If yes, then it makes sense to get married. Notice that the marriage doesn't add any value per se - the reason you would marry the person you've been in a relationship with for three years rather than some total stranger (which is a question you could ask) is because R(t=0) - R(t=-3) is positive. The intervening three years have essentially revealed to you that marrying this person was rational to begin with.

Dexter said...

its sad when you think the news concerns you but actually its not even remotely related to you

what?????? i have never had it let alone better! he he ha ha ha

btw, a "family man" doesnt get into research and stuff :)

Veena said...

Megha: If I am capable of getting myself a hot electrician why would I get married?!

Heh Heh: When I said once in a lifetime, I meant that I want a party of 2000 people once in a lifetime cos I wouldn't be able to tolerate them more than that. Nothing about marriage.

Getting back to the idea of marriage, to me getting married did NOT imply a higher level of commitment than the relationship I was in. It did in the initial phases of the relationship but later I was quite sure that I wasn't going to invest this amount of time and effort in anyone else unless this other guy was completely out of the world. Which he never is and since first impressions never work with me, I am really not likely to pursue anything else. So then the issue with marriage was that I felt that the relationship was too personal and private that I did not want to have a social contract and make a tamasha out of it. Which is what I gave up when I finally caved in.

Falstaff: Could you put that in math please? Or is that what you already did?

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