I first became interested in the work of the Alternatives to Marriage Project when I was in graduate school and working on my Sociology dissertation entitled, “A Family of One: Work-Life Balance in Single Person Households.” I was intrigued by the notion that people living alone had to struggle with boundaries between their time at work and time at home in ways that was not reflected in the research on work-life conflict among married, partnered and parenting individuals.
My own research showed that people living alone spend more time at work and more time with people outside their households than their peers. Additionally, “live alones” struggle with the line between their own autonomy and their desire for connection to others. Finally, live alones must work to define boundaries between work and home because they do not have partners or children to provide them with external boundaries.
This research topic came directly out of my personal experience as someone who happily lived alone for 10 years and was part of an extended friend group that served as my family and support system. While I now live with my partner, I am still confronted with issues that demonstrate how marital status discrimination impacts my life, from an inability to share health insurance to constant questions on when we will get married.
From the first time I began studying families in Sociology while an undergraduate in college, I recognized that families come in many configurations and I wanted to find ways to advocate for alternative family models. Rather than focusing on one “right” type of relationship or family, I believe that it is important to recognize that carework happens across family forms and all people deserve the right to fulfillment and support no matter their relationship status or style.
AtMP provided me with great resources and interesting discussions when I was merely a quiet member. Now, as a member of the board, I am happy to step up to advocate for equality across families and relationship statuses. My hope is to help others recognize that marriage is not the only way to signify a committed relationship and that people in all relationship and living situations – including living alone – are part of our larger community and deserve the same rights and benefits as married individuals.