Getting married is like voluntarily committing oneself to ride a tandem bike forever with no real destination. When one person gets tired, the other has to pedal harder or the entire operation collapses, and most divorce proceedings are just both partners yelling that if the other had pedaled hard enough then the bike would still be moving. Perhaps the appeal of living apart together (LAT) is avoiding this pressure for married couples to constantly synch up and operate in tandem rather than operating as separate entities that come together when it suits. LAT seems like an ideal solution for many of the problems that arise over the course of a marriage, affording the opportunity to be responsible for one’s own bike without having any reason to critique anyone else’s peddling.
Many celebrities agree with me about LAT, which is how I know I’m right. Judith Light and her husband Robert Desiderio stay married by living on opposite coasts. Gwyneth Paltrow lives separately from that largely silent haircut to whom she is married. And the latest celebrity to endorse LAT is none other than the internet’s long-term girlfriend Gillian Anderson and her husband, The Crown creator Peter Morgan: “My partner and I don’t live together. If we did, that would be the end of us. It works so well as it is – it feels so special when we do come together,” Anderson recently told the Sunday Times.
And while LAT is a practice primarily reserved for the wealthy, the idea of carving one’s own space within a marriage is broadly appealing even to non-famous people. Dual master bedrooms are one of the most commonly asked for features in homes being built today, despite decades of television shows and movies reinforcing the belief that couples only sleep apart when one of them is banished to the sofa. There are myriad reasons to sleep apart that don’t involve a fight or indicate a dead bedroom. For one thing, men are more likely to snore than women and women are more likely to experience insomnia than men. Giving everyone their own space to snore or lie awake in total silence means less elbowing a partner in the ribs and yelling for them to shut the fuck up, leaving more time for sleeping and less time exhaustedly careening toward divorce. Sleeping in the same bed is simply a racket invented by the mattress industry to get customers to shill for a king-size and then two more doubles when the divorce is finalized. Don’t let Big Mattress tell you how to be married. Being unconscious together is not the hallmark of a strong couple, just a tired one.
Being married is very difficult, which is why so many people have to practice multiple times before meeting the person they will eventually die with. Being married is even more difficult when one feels pressured to comply with arbitrary norms around how couples must live and sleep in order to keep up appearances over personal comfort. Get your own bed, your own room, your own apartment or house. Sometimes being married is much better completely alone.