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Together and apart: a typology of re-partnering in old age

  • Chaya Koren (a1)

Abstract

Background:

The human need for love, friendship, and physical contact, and the fear of loneliness do not diminish with age. Widowhood and late-life divorce and increased life expectancy are likely to lead to alternative relationships, such as re-partnering. The purpose of this paper is to explore interplays between emotional and physical components of re-partnering in old age

Methods:

Theoretical sampling of 20 couples included men who re-partnered at the age of 65+ years and women at the age of 60+ years, following termination of lifelong marriages due to death or divorce. Living arrangements included married or unmarried cohabitation under the same roof or in separate homes. Forty semi-structured interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The couple was the unit of analysis.

Results:

Interplays between physical and emotional dimensions were examined using five abductive parameters derived from data analysis resulting in a fourfold typology of emotional and physical closeness/distance in re-partnering in old age: (1) living together (physically and emotionally); (2) living apart (physically) together (emotionally); (3) living together (physically) apart (emotionally); and (4) living apart (physically and emotionally).

Conclusions:

Findings revealed types of partner relationships that are different from lifelong marriages. The typology could help professionals working with older persons regarding what to expect in re-partnering in old age and be included in developmental theories as an option in old age. A quantitative tool for research and therapy purposes, entitled The Re-partnering in Old Age Typology Scale (RPOAT Scale), based on abductive parameters, could be established for measuring re-partnering relationship quality and classifying re-partnering couples.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr. Chaya Koren, PhD, Lecturer, The School of Social Work and The Center for the Study of Society, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel. Phone: +972-54-6345876. Email: salsterk@gmail.com.

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