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Commuter Marriages - Coping Strategies For Commuter Marriage Couples

family development family career dual commuting

In order to maximize a couple's capacity to cope with the commuting lifestyle, intervention should begin at the decision-making stage, with a discussion of how to integrate work and family. Issues to consider for a commuter marriage are: (1) how financially stable the family is (i.e., will the commute produce undue financial burden?); (2) what stage of the family life cycle the family is at; (3) how much time individuals have spent by themselves, and how they react to alone time; (4) how systematic the couple is in making decisions; and (5) what kind of time frame for reassessing whether or not the lifestyle is working has been developed?

Coping with commuter marriage is significantly supported if the couple can more easily afford the increased financial costs of the lifestyle (Farris 1978; Gerstel and Gross 1982; Anderson 1992). Additionally, if spouses have no children at home, are older, have been married longer, and have at least one established career, commuting seems to be easier. Those spouses who can tolerate periods of separation and enjoy spending time alone also seem to adjust to and cope with the lifestyle most easily. Finally, using a more systematic or planned decision style helps many couples to express higher satisfaction with their decision to commute and their adapting to the commuting lifestyle. However, it is important to recognize that entering into a commuter marriage is a decision that couples make. Reevaluating the implemented decision to assess its effectiveness also is critical for enhancing family well-being.


Bibliography

Anderson, E. A. (1992). "Decision-Making Style: Impact on Satisfaction of the Commuter Couples' Lifestyle." Journal of Family and Economic Issues 13:1–21.

Anderson, E. A., and Spruill, J. W. (1993). "The Dual-Career Commuter Family: A Lifestyle on the Move." Marriage and Family Review 19:131–147.

Bunker, B. B., and Vanderslice, V. J. (1982). "Tradeoffs: Individual Gains and Relational Losses of Commuting Couples." Paper presented at the annual meeting, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, August.

Bunker, B. B.; Zubek, J. M.; Vanderslice, V. J.; and Rice, R. W. (1992). "Quality of Life in Dual-Career Families: Commuting versus Single-Residence Couples." Journal of Marriage and the Family 54:399–407.

Chang, C. Y., and Browder-Wood, A. M. (1996). "Dual-Career Commuter Marriages: Balancing Commitments to Self, Spouse, Family and Work." Paper presented at the National Conference, American Counseling Association, Pittsburgh, PA, April.

Farris, A. (1978). "Commuting." In Working Couples, ed. R. Rapoport and R. N. Rapoport. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Gerstel, N., and Gross, H. E. (1982). "Commuter Marriages: A Review." Marriage and Family Review 5:71–93.

Gerstel, N., and Gross, H. E. (1984). Commuter Marriage. New York: Guilford.

Gross, H. E. (1980). "Dual-Career Couples Who Live Apart: Two Types." Journal of Marriage and Family 42:567–576.

Groves, M. M., and Horm-Wingerd, D. M. (1991). "Commuter Marriages: Personal, Family and Career Issues." Sociology and Social Research 75:212–217.

Johnson, S. E. (1987). "Weaving the Threads: Equalizing Professional and Personal Demands Faced by Commuting Career Couples." Journal of the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors 50:3–10.

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Maines, J. (1993). "Long-Distance Romances." American Demographics 15:47.

Orton, J., and Crossman, S. M. (1983). "Long Distance Marriage: Cause of Marital Disruption or a Solution to Unequal Dual-Career Development?" In Family, Self, and Society, ed. D. B. Gutknecht. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Patterson-Stewart, K. E.; Jackson, A. P.; and Brown, R. P. (2000). "African Americans in Dual-Career Commuter Marriages: An Investigation of their Experiences." Family Journal—Counseling Therapy for Couples and Families 8:22–47.

Rapoport, R., and Rapoport, R. N. (1976). Dual-Career Families Re-Examined. New York: Harper and Row.

Taylor, A. S., and Lounsbury, J. W. (1988). "Dual-Career Couples and Geographic Transfer: Executives' Reactions to Commuter Marriage and Attitudes toward the Move." Human Relations 41:405–424.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1996). Current Population Reports, Series P60: Income Statistics, Branch/HHES Division, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Winfield, F. E. (1985). Commuter Marriage: Living Together, Apart. New York: Columbia University Press.

ELAINE A. ANDERSON

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