Commuter Marriages On The Rise

Filed under: Opinions

man with laptopMore and more families are living apart, as couples split up not because they no longer want to be married, but because their careers dictate it be so.

A recent article in The New York Times says that more and more families may be engaging in so-called "commuter marriages," where one spouse lives in a different city, state or even a different country in order to have the optimal job, both for their careers and for the family finances.

While it may be the ideal professional situation, it can lead to trouble at home. The spouse who relocates feels like a "stranger in their own home," while the one left behind with the kids feels as if he or she bears the sole responsibility for raising the children and maintaining the household. Technologies like video chat can help ease those pains, but nothing can substitute for the physical presence of a loved one.

My husband is looking for a job right now, and the academic market is a pretty small one. When he applied for graduate school, we briefly considered a commuter-marriage arrangement, but discarded the notion because our daughter was only 18 months old.

Now we have a second baby and while we would hate to be apart, there are circumstances under which it might be necessary for one of us -- probably me -- to stay behind. After all, in this economy, we don't have the option of turning down a job. And if our house doesn't sell in time, we're pretty much stuck.

What do you think about commuter marriages? Would yours survive? Would you do it only if absolutely necessary for financial survival, or would you do it simply because it would be "good" for your career?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.