Long Commutes Take Toll on Marriages, Relationships, Study Finds

The initial years of a long-distance commute are the hardest on a couple, the findings of a Swedish study indicate

A long-distance drive to work can be trying for any commuter, and now a new study finds that extensive commute time can also have a negative impact on marriages and relationships.

Couples who commute more than 45 minutes each day have a 40 percent higher chance of separating, according to a Swedish study.

And the initial years of a long-distance commute are the hardest on a couple, the findings indicate.

“Long commutes mean less time, less quality time and more stress,” said Pepper Schwartz, a University of Washington professor of sociology. “At the end of a long commute, the last thing any couple wants to do is talk. They want to collapse on the couch.”

The lack of communication can lead to a break in the love connection which can lead to divorce, said Schwartz, quoted in a news release from INRIX, a technology company that makes software and mobile apps and analyzes traffic-related data.

“We call it the magic marriage line,” said Kevin Foreman of INRIX GeoAnalytics. “It’s how long couples are willing to drive to keep their marriage intact.”

The study, published in May as a 61-page dissertation at Umea University in Sweden, was authored by Swedish social geographer Erika Sandow.

It covers 2 million two Swedes who were married or cohabiting in 2000, and examines data for those individuals from 1995 to 2005.

But INRIX says the findings apply to the U.S. too. The company says couples living together in cities where longer commute times are more common can tolerate the longer separation better.

Couples in Los Angeles can “handle” a 90-minute commute, according to INRIX's analysis on its own data, while New York couples can handle a 60-minute commute.

San Francisco and Chicago couples can cope with a commute of 45 minutes, while Seattle couples can handle 35 minute, INRIX reports.

“Atlanta and Denver drivers must limit drives to 30 minutes for a good marriage,” INRIX says.

Couples can help maintain their relationships through communication throughout the day, Schwartz says.

“Little texts or quick calls throughout the day help keep those communications lines open and that connection active.”

Photo credit: flickr/Jonathan McPherskesen

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