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The Modern Couple, All’Italiana: Living Separately, Fewer Kids

Italians joining modern living trends of LAT love, and DINK couplehood

A couple in St. Peter's Square

A couple in St. Peter's Square (Rene Cunningham)

Twenty years ago, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow scandalized the world with their decision to live in different apartments, despite being a couple with lots of children. As we all know, that story ended how it ended, with a mess of a love story between Allen and Farrow’s adopted daughter.

But the more relevant fact today is that there are 600,000 couples in Italy alone who live under two different roofs: LAT love, as the Americans say, Living Apart Together. We live together, but separately. Not because of work considerations, or health needs, or family problems, but by choice.

And if the ‘DINK’ couplings (double income, no kids) have increased to 650,000, there is an ever more radical growth among the ‘child-free’: those couples that have no interest in diapers and sleepless nights and who bombard the Internet (often with biting humor) with different lists of reasons to not procreate: money to travel, more leisure time and better physical fitness.

There are an estimated138,000 pairs with this accreditation in Italy. To be sure, six percent of Italian women between the ages of 20 and 30 years say they have no intention of becoming a mother. While on the contrary, 40 percent of infertile couples now turn to assisted fertility techniques that work in an estimated 35 percent of cases.

A whole new galaxy of acronyms, trends and news forms of relationships are documented in the Italian book “Vivere Insieme” ( Living Together) by the psychologist Alex Salerno, a professor of the theory and techniques of family dynamics at the University of Palermo.

The book is a compendium of years of investigations by a team of researchers led by Angela Maria Di Vita, a professor of clinical psychology. The team set out to answer one crucial question: what are the new forms of the family? "Up until a few years ago there were three broad categories within which to identify individuals who were of marrying age: single, cohabiting partner or spouse. Now the picture has grown much more complex,” said Salerno. He says it is much harder now, paradoxically, because the contemporary concept of marriage is based based on love, with all its hopes and its vulnerabilities. Two or three generations ago, there were other factors on which to build a marriage: escape from the family of origin, social respectability, children, or economic stability.

“It wasn’t an easy choice and every day I ask myself if it was the right one,” says 44-year old Chiara who is half of a classic ‘DINK’ couple. Chiara works as a lawyer in Milan and her husband, Marco, is an information engineer. The two opted not to have children for professional reasons. “Simply speaking, we take what life has given us: Our trips, our friends and our economic serenity,” she said. 

Various new forms of relationships are replacing the traditional model. Starting with the idea of distance and the number of definitions abound: ‘weekend couples’, ‘intermittent cohabitation’, ‘alternating living partner with dual residences’, ‘love commuters’, ‘long distance love’, ‘part-time love.’

"The new technologies along with the dissemination of low-cost flights now make it possible to shorten the distances and maintain a form of mutual sharing of everyday life,” said Salerno. “Research has shown that physical distance does not coincide with an emotional distancing.”

There are three macro-categories for those who choose two hearts and two huts: Those who exit from a matrimonial experience with their bones and heart more or less broken and who do not want to repeat the experience; The undecided who never feel ready for that big step of mixing books and slippers with someone else’s; And finally the former partners who have taken the famous period of reflection during a crisis. They found that distance works best.

Read the original article in Italian 

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About this article source Website:

La Stampa ("The Press") is a top Italian daily founded in 1867 under the name Gazzetta Piemontese. Based in Turin, La Stampa is owned by the Fiat Group and distributed in many other European countries.

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