Today, we are encouraged to take on lots of new commitments, doing many things, but potentially doing few things well like our most important relationship. Did you know that new research from Umea University indicates that a 45-minute commute each way increases the likelihood of a breakup by 40%? This study examined the habits of 2 million couples over 10 years, and concluded that the social costs of work travel may outweigh the monetary gains.
Below are a few possible reasons for commuter’s increased relationship troubles:
1) Partner’s imbalance of commute times: If one partner travels farther, the other might get stuck with greater family or household duties. The partner left holding the bag may feel like they are being taken for granted.
2) The relationship may not have been as stable before the long commute came into the relationship. Couples in early marriage or those that were already having relationship challenges can get deeper into disconnect with longer commutes. If a marriage is also unhappy or has become short on intimacy and fulfillment, it will run the couple down over time.
3) Long commutes can be frustrating, contribute to certain health problems, and contribute to a general reduction of happiness. Most individuals who do not feel good about themselves or have health problems can be prone to depression, which can lead to emotionally distancing in relationships.
Below are three strategies to combat commute’s impact on relationships:
1) Prioritize your spouse when you walk through the door at the end of the day (before the kids and the pets). If one of the partners has a long commute and a demanding job, it is critical that they keep the marriage stable and happy. It can be the secure base where they get their support and get re-energized.
2) Deliberately take time to meet each other for lunch if possible and make time to spend more time helping with household duties on weekends. Also, you can check in with your spouse to find out if they need your help with anything.
3) Intentionally plan to spend QUALITY time together, which can potentially close the gap that a long commute creates. It is very important that the couple strive for a deeper emotional connection and more time for fun and recreation.
When life gets too busy its easy to blame work, the kids, or your spouse for not creating time for one another. You can and must step up and take charge of your time and your life. It’s all about choices!