What is a Commuter Marriage?
According to scholars, a commuter couple refers to a married dual-earner couple in a living arrangement form that the wife and the husband live in separate residences due to their occupations at least part of the week. Since 1998 we have seen a rise in commuter marriages and other long distance relationships under terms like LAT, living apart together, super-commuter spouses and dual residence households. As the global world gets smaller and more women are choosing to focus on careers, many project that these types of interdependent marriages will increase further. That’s not to say that there are not inherent struggles for couples living with geographic distance between them. Conversely, some studies have found that there are advantages such as better health and less depression in this type of union. For more information see the commuter marriage questions and statistics below and check out my blog for first-hand accounts of what it’s like to be separate together in a long distance marriage today.
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Commuter Marriage Questions and Statistics
Why the rise in commuter marriages & LAT or long-distance relationships?
- One reason is that more and more families are considered dual-income households as the number of college educated women grows, so do their careers. According to a 2011 study on commuter trends by The University of Texas at Austin, In 2007, 62% of households had two earners compared to 24% of households with only one earner the previous year. The same study found that with the emergence of LAT relationships and rise in connectivity through advanced communication technology, commuting across regions is becoming a more viable option for families with dual-careers.
- For familes especially, not wanting to transplant kids while one parent seeks work elsewhere is a big motivator.
What types of people are in commuter or super-commuter marriages?
- In his book, Commuter Marriage: Living Together Apart (1985), Fairlee E. Winfield breaks down those populating long distance marriages into the following catagories: The Young Professionals, Relocatees and The Economically Motivated. In reasearch couples have also been classified as Well-Established or Adjusting Couples with findings that Well Established (couples who have been together for more than ten years) generally do better in long-distance unions than those early in their partnerships.
How does a long distance commuter marriage work?
- While each scenario is different, for most families with children involved the Mother typically resides in the family home and the husband is seen as someone who super-commutes.
- For some cases, like second marriages, it may be a joint comittment to keep separate family residences to avoid conflicts in blending all under the same roof.
- For emty-nesters or younger couples, it’s often born out of a conscious choice for career or improvement. Each focuses on their own interests/school/career beginning and then come together to share.
What are the advantages and disadvantages to a commuter marriage?
- According to research by The Family Institute at Northwestern University, long-distance spouses reported better health in multiple categories, including lower anxiety, depression, fatigue and health. Conversely, the married couples surveyed had more frequent sex and less relationship stress.
- A 2017 study by LeHigh University, “Going the Distance: Individualism and Interdependence in the Commuter Marriage” found that couples in commuter marriages described themselves as highly interdependant despite geopgraphic distances. Yet 66% surveyed felt that they had been judged negatively for their untraditional lifestyle.
What does the future of commuter marriages and the super-commute look like?
- According to the BBC in 2014, Experts who study commuting estimate there could be hundreds of thousands of super-commuters worldwide, made possible in large part because of technological advances and the proliferation of low-cost airlines.
- In the U.S. there is not, as of yet, a lobbying organization representing couples who commute over long distances, despite this being 1.1% and a growing amount of the population.