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what is commuter marriage, commuter marriage, living apart, the toll of work travel on a marriage, married and single, single parenting

What is Commuter Marriage?

by Deborah Cruz

You’ve all seen me write about it but maybe you’re wondering what is Commuter Marriage?  As I stand on the front stoop watching my husband pull away for the 17th Sunday, bound for his hole he calls an apartment in Iowa, my throat closes up and I feel like I will be swallowed completely by the huge lump in my esophagus and my eyes burn and sting as they get a little watery.

I watch my girls run down the sidewalk waving and screaming , “Bye Daddy, I love you!” and my heart is breaking into a thousand pieces inside. Every week it stings my very core; every single time. Sometimes worse than others, but always. I really loathe all this single mothering that I’ve been doing lately but more than that I hate that we are all getting used to it, comfortable even.

What is commuter marriage? It’s hard on the family.

The girls are getting used to not having Daddy around, and I am getting used to handling things on my own, and sometimes when he’s here, I think he feel’s like he is out of place in his own home. That is what really bothers me. Isn’t this how people drift apart? Isn’t this how families fall apart? I love my husband, and he loves me but if you get used to not having someone around, pretty soon won’t you stop missing one another?

When your husband travels for work, it’s not consistent and it’s random and you learn to deal with it by looking forward to the next time he returns. But when your husband has a residence in a whole other state for a job because his office is there and you KNOW he will be gone for at least 4 of the days of the week, it’s a little harder to swallow.

There is no room for superfluous personal days or no chance of no travel because every week you know, come Sunday afternoon..he’s pulling away and you are left behind on that damn stoop and he’s left watching you grow smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror.

I thought being married meant someone to share my life with. Recently, I feel more like I am a kept woman; a lonely one at that. I have someone to pay the bills. We’re getting to the point where we are forgetting to tell each other the little things that happen in our day to day and that scares me. Pretty soon we won’t know each other. I can deal with geographic distance but not emotional distance. I mean, I never thought I’d be married and alone.

What is Commuter Marriage? It’s being married but alone.

What do I do? Do I tell him to quit and come home because I need my friend, my partner, my husband? Or do I just keep going on ignoring the fact that this is really hard and slowly becoming impossible? Some days, I am okay with it. Other days, I can hardly bear it.I am lonely and I miss our relationship. The day to day, seeing each other, talking about nothing, sharing laughs and feelings, stolen glances and touches. Now, everything is forced into a weekends time and it’s not enough.

I feel like such an ungrateful asshole. I know I should be filled with gratitude that he has a job at all in this economy but it’s extremely hard when you’ve spent every day of the past 13 years with this man and suddenly you are living separate lives. I know he is just as lonely there but some days I feel overwhelmed with all the responsibility of holding it all together. Some days, it is just too much.But what do you do when you have bills to pay and kids to feed, mortgages, groceries, and school loans? You suck it up, you be a grown-up, you get out of the fetal position, stop crying and stand on that damn stoop and wave goodbye and hope its not for the last time. Commuter marriage is not for the weak.

What is commuter marriage?

It’s survival and groceries and mortgages. It’s not being homeless. It’s saying goodbye more often than you ever dreamed. Have you or would you ever be in a commuter marriage and make it work?

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Robin 2010/06/27 - 5:31 pm

Is moving to where his job is not a possibility?

Christy 2010/06/27 - 5:35 pm

In my opinion your marriage is more important, more so than the money you are making. I think you should at least communicate how you are feeling with him. Good luck!

Shell 2010/06/27 - 6:24 pm

I was going to ask, too, if you could move there, but I see that you can't. Hopefully it will be closer to 6 months than a year. My husband travels about one week out of every month and then he's gone a night here and a night there. I hate it, but I try to make the best of it.

I love my husband, but sometimes a break can be nice b/c we don't take each other for granted.

Shannon 2010/06/27 - 7:01 pm

Sweetie, just keep your lines of communication open…I can't stress that enough! My hubby and I were separated due to a job…for 7 months, he would come home on the weekends mostly but I was a single mom to 4 children and it was very difficult and we lost that feeling of being connected, but we worked hard, communicated and are now living in the same home (our house sold) and things are awesome…it sounds like ya'll just need to talk more, share the little things, and remember this too shall pass!

Bringing Pretty Back 2010/06/27 - 7:14 pm

please email me

Michelle 2010/06/27 - 8:16 pm

My boyfriend and I did the same thing. He would go to Iowa City bright and early Monday morning and wouldn't get home until thursday or friday afternoon. This went on for about 6 months.
I would express how stressed or how how much I missed him. But, in our situation, it was something that we just had to do.
What part of Iowa is going to? We live in NW Iowa and my BF would travel 5 hours to Iowa City.

www.bellaandgracies.blogspot.com 2010/06/27 - 8:35 pm

Loved reading your blog and thanks for following mine. I know what it's like to feel like a single mother and be married. My circumstance is different but it's still not easy. I just count my blessings and thank god for my children.

chloessandbox.etsy.com 2010/06/27 - 8:35 pm

Loved reading your blog and thanks for following mine. I know what it's like to feel like a single mother and be married. My circumstance is different but it's still not easy. I just count my blessings and thank god for my children.

Danielle @ "We Don't Have It All Together" 2010/06/27 - 9:09 pm

Oh no, I am sorry you are going through this. Since moving is out of the question, you two HAVE TO talk about this. If you don't you are going to drift farther apart emotionally. Please don't ignore it. Again, I'm sorry – I wish someone had a magical answer for you. I can't imgaine going through this, it has to be very difficult.

Nikki 2010/06/27 - 9:23 pm

Oh…I'm so sorry that you are feeling so down. This made me tear up a little….only because you and I have been talking about this lately. It's hard…your situation is obviously much harder.
I think you really need to talk to him and tell him how you feel disconnected. I'm sure he has some of the same feelings and once you get it out in the open you can work on it. Make it a point every night when you talk to tell each other a couple of random things that happened in your day. And I think it's ok to have it feel "normal" for him to be gone….you need to make it as normal as possible for the little ones.
You need to remember that your marriage does come first….he's the one who is supposed to be beside you through thick and thin…he is your best friend and the person you chose to be with. It will be fine…you are just going to have to be creative in how you communicate….maybe try planning something fun every once in a while when he is home that just the two of you do!!! Reconnect!!!

Truthful Mommy 2010/06/27 - 5:47 pm

RObin, no relocating is not a possibility. This is a contract job, 6 months to a year so moving is not an option. WE just relo'd for a job to the east coast last summer, only to be downsized after Christmas.Our house hadn't sold so we came home.WE just have to ride it out.

Truthful Mommy 2010/06/27 - 5:51 pm

@ Christy, I agree the marriage is certainly more important than any amount of money. Our marriage is solid, it is just a very hard thing to go through and it does scare me that we are getting used to be apart. I have mentioned this to him but we've not really talked about it.He has said on several occasions that he is going to tell his boss that he quits. It will never get to the point where the job is chosen over the marriage but where's the line between what we can take and what is too much? I don't want to find out. I am praying for a job closer to home where we can see each other every day!

Laina 2010/06/28 - 6:32 am

I would definitely talk to your husband about this. Communication is the most important thing in a relationship in my opinion. Express to him how you are feeling and your concerns. See if there are any changes that can be made on either of your parts. Definitely do not hold it all in, that gets dangerous…that's when resentment takes root and bitterness and loneliness turns into depression. You are a team, you have to work together. 🙂

Truthful Mommy 2010/06/28 - 9:15 am

Thank you all so much for the support! Your positivity has perked me right up and I'll be having a serious talk with the big guy.Lots of great ideas and I had no idea, this situation was as common as it is. Thanks again..just one more reason I love my readers!

Lanita @ A Mother's Hood 2010/06/29 - 10:06 am

My husband and I started out our relationship long distance. For 9 months we dated through the phone and airports. We learned how to share everything with each other, despite the distance. Now that we are married and together…sometimes we don't know how to communicate when we are sitting on the couch together. I often tell him we share more when we talk on the phone. So use the phone while his is gone. Have a "date night" once a week when he is gone. We used to pick music we would both listen to and cocktails we would drink. It is a good way to be together when you are far apart. Plan it and make it fun!

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Laura 2012/06/25 - 8:46 pm

I get it. Totally and completely. We’ve been doing the gone 60-80% of the time thing for almost three years now (Often times weekends included). It’s the reason we don’t have a second kid. Logistically and emotionally 🙂 Hang in there… I’m here to commiserate and agree- commuter marriages are NOT for wimps!

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