Long Commutes Tough on Couples' Relationships06/01/11
WEDNESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- In a tough economy, many
people find themselves taking a job that requires a long commute,
but new research suggests that there may be a high personal price
to pay for that decision.
In fact, a researcher from Sweden found that those who travel
long distances to work are more likely to separate from their
spouse or partner than those who work closer to home.
Erika Sandow, a social geographer at Umea University, mapped
long-distance commuting in Sweden and examined its effects on
income and relationships. In analyzing more than 2 million adults
who were married or living with a significant other, Sandow found
that those who commute long distances do, in fact, gain access to
more jobs and better career opportunities, but not without
sacrifice on the home front.
Among her findings, Sandow pointed out that 11 percent of those
studied spent at least 90 minutes traveling each day (round-trip).
The results also revealed that a large percentage of long-distance
commuters have small children and their families are rooted in
their community. However, once they begin the routine of a long
commute, most stick with it. In fact, more than half of those who
commuted long-distance to work had been doing so for at least five
years, she reported.
Although people do adapt to this type of travel over time, many
relationships do not survive this long haul. Sandow's research
found that long-distance commuters are 40 percent more likely to
separate than other couples, particularly in the first years of the
extended travel time.
Gender also comes into play, said Sandow. Most long-distance
commuters are men, and their partners tend to earn less money,
Sandow noted, adding that women often work part-time or take less
qualified jobs closer to home in order to be able to pick up
children at day care. As a result, many women are earning less and
still having to take on the primary role as caretaker for the
family and children, she found.
Although women who commuted also tended to have more
opportunities and higher pay than those who didn't, earlier studies
have shown they are more likely to feel stressed, pressured for
time and less successful in their job compared with male commuters,
Sandow noted in a university news release.
The findings should be considered preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more
detailed information on
marriage and divorce.
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