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Bridging the Distance in a Commuter Marriage

Strategies for staying connected -- and sane -- when you have an absentee spouse.

Tips for Staying Connected in a Commuter Marriage

Whether voluntary or involuntary, there are myriad ways to address the challenges of spousal separation, keep intimacy alive, alleviate guilt, foster support, and minimize resentment.

  • Be positive. Buckholtz says having a positive attitude -- no blaming -- is key. "My husband doesn't want to be away. He's not choosing work over his family."
  • Take advantage of technology. A generation ago, couples had a much more difficult time staying in touch. With email, cell phones, digital pictures, web cams, it's much easier for spouses to stay in contact. Kuzma says she looks forward to iCards and IMs from her husband.
  • Become the problem solver. If you are the spouse at home, it helps to go ahead and provide the absentee partner an update on ways you're tackling at-home problems. "I don't want my husband thousands of miles away worrying about us, frustrated," Buckholtz says.
  • Outsource as needed. Buckholtz hires a weekly housekeeper and a handyman, so she has more time to devote to her kids. "I have a Rolodex of people, including a lot of babysitters, when I need free time or if I am burned out."
  • Cultivate your own hobbies. Having interests outside your marriage is key to staving off isolation. Parks runs marathons and serves on charitable boards. "Accept the fact that even when he or she comes home, your interests might not be the same."
  • Do something unexpected. Several couples mentioned tucking notes, photos, or small tokens into the traveling partner's suitcase to serve as reminders of family left at home.
  • Make the time you do have together count. Whether it's a date night without the kids or a quiet dinner at home, make sure your partner knows he or she is appreciated.

 

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Reviewed on May 14, 2008

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