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The importance of intimate relationships for well-being in later life
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology.
Stockholms universitet.
2014 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Studies on intimacy in later life have mostly focused on institutionalized life-long marriages, and the transition out of such marriages into widowhood. Based on theories about the shift from marriage to divorce culture (Hackstaff), the transformation of intimacy (Giddens) and potentials of the third age (Laslett), this paper focuses on forms of intimacy in later life in late modern Sweden. The results are based partly on qualitative interviews, including relationship biographies, with 28 Swedes (63–91 years) living in new relationships initiated after the age of 60 (marriage, cohabitation, LAT) and dating singles. And partly on a quantitative survey to 60–90 year old Swedes (n=1225). The results show: A great diversity in relationship careers; a preference of LAT and cohabitation (non-visible in official statistics); the importance of intimate relationships for well-being and that new relationships are as important for life-satisfaction as long-lasting ones; that intimate relationships are more important than children for well-being. A central analytical finding was the importance of time as an organizing frame for new intimate relationships in later life: the paradox of having a lot of free time in the third age, but a restricted life time left. Results will be discussed in relation to the theorizing frames mentioned above, especially new practices for intimacy in a culture of divorce. Cohort replacement is only one explanation for changing practices and attitudes to new intimate relationships in later life and the period effect seems to be as important.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-20802OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-20802DiVA: diva2:877867
22nd Nordic Congress of Gerontology, Gothenburg, Sweden, 25-28 May 2014
Available from: 2015-12-08 Created: 2015-12-08 Last updated: 2015-12-08Bibliographically approved

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