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Joint and Separated Lifestyles in Couple Relationships


  • *NCSR, Postbus 792, 2300 AT Lieden, The Netherlands.


A survey among 1,523 married and cohabiting couples in the Netherlands is used to describe the extent to which couples have lifestyles characterized by separate leisure pursuits. Four types of leisure are examined: visiting friends and family, entertainment, outdoor recreation, and indoor leisure. For these activities, we find that contemporary couples cannot be characterized as highly individualized. Next, we analyze why some couples have a more separated lifestyle than others. Hypotheses are developed about the life cycle of the couple, the couple's work life, social and cultural homogamy, and value orientations. Multivariate analyses show that life cycle factors are an important determinant of separate lifestyles, whereas evidence for the role of values and homogamy is modest. We also present evidence revealing the time constraints that children and work schedules pose for realizing a joint lifestyle, but we do not find that spouses in dual-earner couples generally operate more separately than do other couples.