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Commuter Marriages - Demographics Of Commuter Marriages, Benefits For Commuter Marriage Couples, Challenges Faced By Commuter Marriage Couples

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaModern Marriage & Family Issues


Commuter marriage is a voluntary arrangement where dual-career couples maintain two residences in different geographic locations and are separated at least three nights per week for a minimum of three months (Gerstel and Gross 1982; Orton and Crossman 1983). Dual-career families (Rapoport and Rapoport 1976) are those where both heads of the household pursue careers, and their work requires a high degree of commitment and special training, with a continuous developmental character involving increasing degrees of responsibility.

Although researchers (Kirschner and Walum 1978) have acknowledged that living apart is not unusual for some occupations such as politicians, entertainers, or salespeople, as well as certain circumstances (e.g., war, immigration, imprisonment, and seasonal work), historically it is the male who has left the family for a period of time. In contrast, commuter marriages came about because both spouses have career goals that cannot be met in the same geographic location. Hence, increasingly we observe women's mobility from the family for work-related reasons. A commuter marriage is a work solution compromise allowing both spouses to pursue their careers, while maintaining their marriage relationship. Often the commuter arrangement is considered temporary until the couple achieves career goals that enable them to relocate together (Farris 1978).

The primary factors contributing to the occurrence of commuter marriages are: the number of women in the workforce, the number of dual-career couples, and the number of women seeking careers requiring specialized training, all of which are increasing (Anderson 1992). Further, it has been suggested that tighter job markets that force people to relocate, greater equality within marriage that places more attention on wives' careers, and society's increasing emphasis on individualism also add to the increased incidence of commuter marriages.


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