BOSTON (CBS) – Every night after work, Nancy Fagen comes home to an empty house in San Diego. She isn’t single, however. Her husband lives 3,000 miles away in the Boston area.
“The first time we were apart, it was for about a month, and it was hard,” explained Fagen. “I was so lonely, and I know he was lonely.”
The shaky economy is forcing more couples to live apart just to stay employed. Tina Tessina, author of “The Commuter Marriage”, said “It does affect marriages and it does create more commuter marriages. People tend to drive longer distances to get a job. People are laid off from work and they have to relocate to get a job.”
Three and half million couples are now living in commuter marriages. That’s up 30% since 1990, and it’s expected to keep growing.
One of the reasons is the real estate market, which continues to be sluggish. Often one partner ends up staying behind until the house sells.
Setting up two households can also create a financial strain, even for a short period of time. A recent survey found about 25% of companies help their employees in these situations.
Tessina said workers often don’t have a choice of relocating. “If it’s a job versus no job, you’re probably better off commuting,” she says.
Couples stuck in this situation are finding some relief with today’s technology. “Today we can stay in touch minute by minute. We’ve got Skype, cell phones, and texting,” said Tessina.
Some couples have even found a surprising benefit to their relationship. “It can refresh a marriage that’s stale because people have been together all the time and there’s nothing new happening and suddenly you get that rush,” explained Tessina.