Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sign of a Culture in Trouble: Commuter Marriages

An article I read recently in Time Magazine truck me as particularly disturbing and worthy of sharing. There's a growing trend of married couples living at long distances. Quite euphemistically--and ironically, I might point out--these cases are being terms "commuter marriages." But whatever you call it, there are now millions of American's living this way.

Unconventional? Yes. Unusual? Not exactly. Commuter marriages, in which couples live apart for long stretches, are multiplying. Their number jumped 30%, to 3.6 million, from 2000 to 2005... While military deployments, migratory jobs and economic need have long forced couples around the world to live apart, in America today, it is more often the woman's career that drives the separation.

Whereas in the past it was expected that the wife would, whenever possible, follow her husband wherever his career took him, this is no longer the case. Now she can have her job in New York and he can have his in Los Angeles, and everybody wins, including the kids:

Even the arrival of kids doesn't necessarily end the arrangement. The [2005] census counts 817,000 children under 18 who have married parents living apart for reasons other than marital discord.

Of course, if there are roughly 3.6 million commuter marriages this means less than 1 child per 4 commuter marriages, so most of these couples just aren't having kids.

But why marry then? No kids. No time with your spouse. Why bother?

Is it the safety of retaining the independence of being self-actualized in one's career (whatever that means) while at the same time possessing an other and avoiding the unpleasant business of getting to know him/her in the kind of up-close and person way cohabitation entails? Is it easier? Whatever the reason, it's a distressing trend.

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  • I would be interested to see the actual study the Time article is referring to. In particular, I'm curious about whether they included military families; and if so, how much of that 30% jump can be accounted for by post-9/11 deployments (particularly of reserve units).

    I agree that there's more egoism in contemporary relationships than is preferable. OTOH, there is this encouraging trend:

    By Blogger Avenging Sword, at 8:17 AM, October 15, 2007  

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