LEARNING OBJECTIVES

• What are the challenges and advantages of being single?

• Why do people cohabit?

• What are gay male and lesbian relationships like?

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• What is marriage like across adulthood?

• Why do people divorce and remarry?

• What are the experiences of widows and widowers?

B

obbie and Jack were high school sweethearts who married a few years after World War II. Despite many trials in their relationship, they have remained firmly committed to each other for over 60 years. Not only are they still in love, but they are best friends. In looking back, they note that once their children moved away they grew closer again. Bobbie and Jack wonder whether this is typical.

Bobbie and Jack show us that forging relation­ships is only part of the picture in understanding how adults live their lives with other people. For most, one relationship becomes special and results in commitment, typically through marriage. Putting relationships in context is the goal of this section as we explore the major lifestyles of adults. First, we consider people who never get married. Next, we look at those who cohabit and those who are in same-sex relationships. We also consider those who get married and those who divorce and remarry. Finally, we discuss people who are widowed.