Volume 31 - Article 3 | Pages 71-104

Do co-residence and intentions make a difference? Relationship satisfaction in married, cohabiting, and living apart together couples in four countries

By Tsui-o Tai, Janeen Baxter, Belinda Hewitt

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Date received:09 Mar 2013
Date published:03 Jul 2014
Word count:6184
Keywords:cohabitation, cross-national, living apart together (LAT), marriage, relationship satisfaction, unions
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2014.31.3
 

Abstract

Background: A large body of research has compared relationship satisfaction and quality in cohabiting versus married relationships. Despite increased recognition of couples in living apart together (LAT) relationships, very little research has examined the experiences of couples in LAT relationships compared to co-residential unions.

Objective: Our aim is to develop knowledge about the experiences of different union types by investigating relationship satisfaction of people in LAT, cohabiting, and marital relationships. We differentiate those with intentions to marry for cohabiters, and those with intentions to marry or live together in LAT relationships. We also examine differences by gender and country.

Methods: Using data from Wave 1 of the Generations and Gender Survey in France, Germany, Australia, and Russia (n = 9,604), OLS regressions are estimated to investigate a) differences in relationship satisfaction across relationship types, and b) across countries.

Results: Married people have the highest levels of relationship satisfaction. People in non-marital unions with intentions to marry or live together are significantly more satisfied than those without marriage or cohabitation intentions. Those in LAT relationships with no intentions to live together have the lowest levels of relationship satisfaction. There is evidence of cross-national variation with differences in relationship satisfaction by union type most pronounced in Australia and Russia. Gender differences are found with women reporting lower levels of relationship satisfaction than men.

Conclusions: LAT relationships are qualitatively different to co-residential unions. It is important to further develop our understanding of the experiences of couples in these relationships.

Author's Affiliation

Tsui-o Tai - The University of Queensland, Australia [Email]
Janeen Baxter - The University of Queensland, Australia [Email]
Belinda Hewitt - University of Queensland, Australia [Email]

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