Your Commute Could Be Bad For Your Marriage
Do you commute more than 45 minutes to work? Your relationship could be at risk.
According to a new study published in the British journal Urban Studies, married or cohabiting couples in which at least one of the partners has a lengthy trek to work are 40% more likely to break up than those with a lesser commute.
It’s probably no surprise that sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic can lead to moodiness (and there’s no doubt that massive gas bills can cause financial stress).
But the study’s researcher, Erika Sandow of Umea University in Sweden, wanted to take a look at other, more hidden social costs of commuting to work, like its effect on sleeping patterns, health and relationships.
She tracked millions of Swedes over ten years and discovered that while 10% of non-commuting couples eventually separated, 14% of “long-distance commuters” had called it quits. (Her findings appear to indicate that she studied heterosexual couples exclusively.)
Though the study, as reported by Quartz, didn’t offer possible explanations as to the relationship between commute time and relationship dissolution, it’s likely just confirmation of what most of us have experienced firsthand: stressful traffic, early mornings and shortened time with our families can majorly impact our personal lives.
Is There Any Upside to a Long Commute?
Today, the average American one-way commute is clocking in at over 25 minutes, and can be even higher in notoriously gridlocked cities. To be sure, there’s often an upside to going these greater distances—you may earn more money at an out-of-town gig without uprooting your family, or land a promotion you may not otherwise have.
But in sifting though the data, Sandow also found some surprising nuance to the results. Turns out that when it’s the woman who’s commuting, there seems to be less of a toll on the relationship. In fact, for women in the study who had been commuting for at least five years, the chances of their relationship failing were actually decreased by 8%.
Overall risk to a relationship, the study found, was highest when the couple was in the early years of commuting.
The struggle, then, may be what Sandow calls the “customization process”—successfully adopting to the new routine—not bringing all that stress and road rage back home with you. Couples who had been commuting for five years or more actually had almost no more risk of separation than non-commuters.
As the study suggests, learning to adjust to the stress and quirks of a commuting life with your partner might be a necessary bump in the road.
By LearnVest's Anna Williams
Want to read more articles from LearnVest? Check out How We Learned to Talk About Money, 13 Ways to Combat Work Stress, and 8 Ways to Improve Your Morning Commute.