A long commute isn't just a frustrating time suck. It can also be a relationship killer, according to a study from Sweden's Umea University. Here, a brief guide:
What exactly did the study find?
Commutes can be devastating to fledgling marriages. Looking at statistics for two million Swedish households from 1995 to 2000, the researchers found that the risk of divorce was as much as 40 percent higher if one partner had a commute of 45 minutes or more. Commuting was especially risky in the first few years of marriage. After five years of commuting, however, families were no longer negatively affected.
Why is commuting bad for marriage?
The researchers theorized that when the husband commutes, the wife is typically forced to take a less rewarding job closer to home, or pick up the slack with the household and kids, while her mate spends more time on the road. When she is the one who commutes, she tends to be more more stressed, and feel less satisfied with her job than her male counterpart, the study suggested. In either instance, greater stress is put on a marriage.
Why did things get better after five years of commuting?
Researchers aren't certain why marriages would be at less risk at that point. But it might be that the couples who better adapt to commuting are stronger from the start. "There could be another selection process at work there as well, that the 'weaker' relationships can't take that kind of strain in the first place," says Sandow. Or, maybe it's just that by five years, "everyone's gotten disgruntled and numb," says Jen Doll in The Village Voice.