Is Your Commute Ruining Your Marriage?

commuteA long commute comes with an obvious list of downfalls -- super-early wake-up calls, unexpected traffic jams, the fact that it costs a half-a-day's pay to fill up the gas tank each week -- but according to a recent study by a researcher at Umea University in Sweden, there could be another, more unexpected consequence of a long commute: divorce.

The report, which analyzed 10 years of data on more than 2 million couples in Sweden who were either married or co-habitating, found that those in which at least one person had a long commute (more than 30 kilometers, or about 18.6 miles each way) were 40 percent more likely to get divorced than couples with shorter-distance commutes. Chances of separation were highest during the first few years of long-distance commuting, as couples struggled to adapt to the new routine.

Not surprisingly, a big contributor to the higher divorce rate among these couples was the added pressure that a long-distance commute put on life at home. Often, since time spent at home was diminished for one spouse, family and household responsibilities become more burdensome for both spouses, though specific effects differed, based on which person did the commuting, as well as the couple's view on gender roles.

According to the report abstract, for example, "The thesis shows that men's long-distance commuting may serve to reproduce and reinforce traditional gender roles on the labor market and within households [since women spend more time at home and therefore complete more of the household duties]. On the other hand, women's long-distance commuting can lead to more egalitarian relationships on the labor market and within households [since more of the household responsibility falls on the man's shoulders]."

However, the study also found that couples in which the woman was the long-distance commuter often experienced more stress -- especially in those with traditional views on gender roles -- because the woman still felt responsible for a large part of the household and family duties. It also seemed that the overarching tendency was to fall back on more traditional gender roles, as the study found that men were more likely to commute long-distance, while women tended to work closer to home.

Overall, while a long-distance commute was a challenge for many couples, those who were willing to adapt and find creative ways to overcome it were successful. According to the report, "commuters with active, problem-focused strategies can handle commuting challenges efficiently." Successful coping strategies included viewing commuting time as personal time, and using it to listen to music, read (if using public transportation), or mentally shift between work life and home life; as well as setting and sticking to family calendars and schedules to create a more predictable home environment.

What do you think about the correlation between commuting and marriage? Do you think it's valid? Share your thoughts, below.

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For 25 yrs i drove from indiana to chicago , Well we have been married 34 yrs now , life is much better i only drive 44 miles one way lmao

July 18 2011 at 4:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was later discovered that the higher divorce rates were also influenced by those who were left-handed and sang in C minor with a lisp.

July 18 2011 at 1:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I commuted 172 miles one way for 2 years..and I wasn't even married!

July 18 2011 at 1:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this article is a big crock of Sh!t

July 18 2011 at 1:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Since when is 18 miles a long commute? Kids and I wanted to live in Norman and my husband worked for a contractor at Tinker AFB after retiring from Civil Service. It took a little over 25 minutes to get to work if you hit all the stop lights red. Since he never did anything around the home -- did all the outside work, raised three kids, and have my own consulting business, why would 50 minutes out of a day matter.

Don't think you can equate Sweeden at least Middle America because there are good school districts of which Norman is one but wouldn't have wanted our kids in the district around Tinker AFB.

July 18 2011 at 12:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I commuted 22 miles in one direction to work and I've been married 44 years. There had to be a lot more wrong with the marriage than just driving time.

July 17 2011 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think any job situation that makes it hard for couples to spend time together is problematic. My own marriage was definitely impacted by my career as a hospital based RN, working weekends, nights, holidays, while my now ex worked a more normal schedule. Night shift was particularly hard given the lack of sleep that left me, shall we say, less than happy? Same things likely hold true for others whose work is 24/7 in nature. Makes it harder, but a willingness to work on things can overcome.

July 17 2011 at 7:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I kind of agree with the person who alluded to the fact that a study done in Sweden might not translate too well into our society. In addition, isn't Sweden called "The Land of the Midnight Sun?" It's like Alaska: dark all day during the winter and light all day in the summer. That has got to impact commuting, relationships, and a bunch of other things. Wonder if that was factored in to the study?

July 17 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to zorrosmom54's comment

Alaska is called "The Land of the Midnight Sun", and the amount of daylight or darkness varies depending on how far north or south you are.

July 17 2011 at 7:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

My husbands career choice that is stressing our marriage is the fact he lost his job, and isn't bothering to look for a new one. He likes laying on the couch all day playing Tetris. I'd give anything if he had a commute. I am disabled, so work is not an option for me.

July 17 2011 at 7:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to whatshamata's comment

Ha, that is some career choice but its probably more of a destresser. I to lost my career due to a wreck. 100% disabled. I do look for part time but it seems unless I grow a mohawk, dye it green, pierce my face, get some tats and manage to dummy down my language there does not seem to be a lot for a person like me. So I to seem to use video games (since I can no longer play the real games to take my mind off of things) only for a short time. if you love him help him up, my significant other has stayed in my corner

July 17 2011 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My husband and I have stressful careers and we're both flying here and there for our jobs. It all depends on the individuals in the relationship to decide what works for them. Our relationship works just fine. We operate this way...whoever gets home first, starts with dinner, housework, etc. Because I'm a woman doesn't mean that I can do everything. And because he's a man doesn't mean that he can't do anything domestic. I'm not a maid, cook, Psychologist or wet-nurse. I'm a woman, a professional and a wife. It is not my job or duty to be all things at all career is just as important to me as my husband's is to him. This whole gender role nonsense has to stop. Women put too much pressure on ourselves in addition to the guilt. Stop feeling guilty if you can't be a superwoman. Men, need to step up to the plate more in domestic issues because some of them have the tendency to want you to do everything. A marriage is comprised of two people and two people need to share in the responsibility. Before I got married, I made myself clear on that issue. Because if
I still had to do everything, I could have stayed single.

July 17 2011 at 7:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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