A recent article on Huffington Post says that long distance marriages are becoming more common. According to the 2006 census, more than 3.5 million married couples are living apart for reasons other than a legal separation. This is an increase of 30% over the 1990 numbers.
Maintaining a happy, healthy marriage takes work under normal circumstances, so we were interested in reading about why long distance marriages, also called “commuter marriages” are becoming so prevalent and what couples can do to make them work.
The Job Market is Defining Some Modern Marriages
According to Tess Tessina, the author of “Commuter Marriages”, the difficult job market and the unemployment rate are partly responsible for the growth in long distance marriages.
It does affect marriages and it does create more commuter marriages. People drive longer distances to get a job. People are laid off from work and they have to relocate to get a job.”
We have several friends who have had one or both spouses unemployed in recent years and we’ve seen how difficult it’s been for them to find new positions. This has been especially true of our friends who are in their forties and up and those friends who are in extremely competitive job markets. None have taken positions that separated them, but we one couple did move across country to Chicago for the husband’s new position. This was after several months of job-hunting in the local market.
Real Estate Prices Are Also to Blame
Another reason for the growth in long distance marriages is the real estate market. Many couples are opting to live in areas where real estate prices are lower, but the job market doesn’t happen to be very good there or one of them is unable to give up their current job in another city.
Karla Bergen, Assistant Professor in the Communications department at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha says that trying to sell a current home can also require one spouse staying behind while the the children and other spouse move to a new area.
The real estate market is really depressed, so the other partner ends up staying behind until the house sells.”
Distance Isn’t a Death Knell For Marriage
While maintaining a healthy and happy marriage from a distance presents a whole new set of issues and obstacles, it doesn’t mean that your marriage is doomed. Technology can be a huge help, with Skype and other video conferencing bringing people together in a far more satisfying way than the phone. Sharing photos of daily life can help the other partner feel connected to what’s going on and feel less like life is going ahead without them.
Long distance marriage may not be ideal, but you can make it work for you until you can be reunited. One key is to remember that this situation is temporary and stay focused on getting to the point where living apart is no longer necessary.
If you’re currently living with a long distance marriage or have made the situation work in the past, we’d love for you to share your story and let us know you made it work for you!