And they lived happily ever after… Well, it doesn’t always happen in the same castle though. Sometimes Rapunzel decides to join the hair salon 600 miles from the (insert name here) prince’s abode.
There is an increasing number of dual income families around the world. For instance, in the US alone, about 48% of families had both the husband and wife engaged in dual income, in 2016. And you can certainly wager a bet that there is a decent number of them living apart, for work, among other reasons. Careers have their demand, as we all concur.
But when you extrapolate the situation to not one but all adults, in the household, seeking out their individual profession, those demands multiply. And when those demands are piled on with yet another parameter of multi-location jobs, the heartache begins to travel north – apart-ner with a headache, if you will.
Family responsibilities can weigh heavier on one, more than the other, when the situation demands two career couples to stay apart in separate cities. The parent who is responsible for taking care of the kids is especially hard tasked with all the duties and little help on account of the physical distance with the spouse.
Often, work-home conflicts arise when such responsibilities are unbalanced. The situation becomes akin to single parent households. One of the partners, usually the woman, often decides to relocate following the other as a trailing spouse, compromising on work duties to make their personal lives more convenient.
And who knows it better than moms around the world, trying to balance their careers with the running noses that follow motherhood.
But given the fact that 3.6 million couples in the US, 9% in the UK, and about 7% couples in Canada are sending goodnight kisses over Skype, each day, the question of whether couples should stay apart or together is no longer a topic that needs discussion.
Sometimes it is easier to accept that it just needs to happen. And with fledgling economies everywhere, the above-mentioned two income situation is the only means of survival for many families.
Not to mention the necessity that drives either spouse to respect his/her career demands despite the disadvantages that accompany the lack of the other’s company.
However, we can ask the question a little differently. What if anything can you, and your partner, do to maintain a healthy relationship without jeopardizing your individual careers?
Here are some very easy, almost too easy, to maintain habits that help couples manage their career driven long distance relationships.
While your gal pals may be warning you against getting into a relationship in different area codes, there are a few things that may be actually working to keep the fire burning strong. Research has shown that couples who live apart tend to have more trusting, and even often stronger relationships, thanks to the whole you give me space and I will give you freedom philosophy.
The Two States situation often helps partners to respect each other’s independence. But as expected, there is a rusty lining. While trust is implicitly required to keep a long-distance relationship from burning out with daily friction, there is also a danger of getting too used to the uncompromising individual ways.
When such partners finally do start living together, the bygone independence begins to get damped, and often leads to issues. The resolution lies in managing a healthy routine which balances the ongoing physical separation with bursts of togetherness.
What drives a wedge, in most long-distance relationships, is the lack of regular communication. With overbearing work schedules, it is almost too difficult to maintain a habit of connecting with your partner.
According to a survey conducted by YouTango.com, 65% of divorces cite communication problems as the axing factor.
Chalk out a plan and slot out some time for your spouse or partner. The concept is simple. If you include the other in your daily plan, the chances of communication voids are vastly reduced. While it is not always possible to explore deeply profound issues over often patchy network, there is a lot of value in even sharing your daily mundanes.
Sometimes sharing the choice of your morning bagel is enough to feel connected. But the key is to understand what schedule works for both. One relatively long call or multiple short telegram like chit chats throughout the day? Whatsapp winks or an hour-long Skype video?
Setting the expectations, clearly, reduce the chances of disappointments and subsequent misunderstandings. There is no harm in being flexible too as long as both agree that that’s how you will roll – no planning and playing by the ear!
Your current separation maybe circumstantial but you can control the future circumstances with some strategic planning. Save your vacation days, meticulously, and arrange to meet up as often as you can. Club the weekends and arrange to stay over at each other’s, using up individual vacation one at a time, thus effectively increasing the number of days spent together.
It’s all about prioritizing your tasks and making sure that you have enough time set apart for each other.
Don’t make it a habit of always volunteering to take on harder and bigger projects that are guaranteed to eat into your personal time. Just as you would not want your personal life encroaching upon your professional, it is essential to draw the line when you find your work schedule creeping into the time you had set aside for facetime.
Yes, it is possible that your partner is probably more considerate than your manager and you want to make a definite impression for the next appraisal, but it is wiser to not take a ride on the slippery slope which may cost you your relationship.
Set your boundaries at work. Balance the work initiatives with time that you would want to spend with your partner – physically or electronically.
It is possible to negotiate workday schedules which allow employees to get the best of both worlds. A lot of corporate offices function on a 24/7 work environment. In such cases, you can opt to sign up for work shifts which demand more hours each day but fewer days each week, relieving a substantial chunk of the week for spousal travel.
You can also explore work from home schedules. Of course, this kind of flexibility does require you to build an image of a trustee, reliable employee before you hammer out a deal with your boss.
Two career partners, who live apart, are not a novelty anymore. In fact, such families promote a sense of equality, financial stability, and even instil a sense of responsibility in their children.
However, these families are also constantly put through challenges that often evade traditional set ups. The key is in management – both career and personal life – thus working out the issues that may hold either sector of your life hostage at the cost of the other.
So, stay on the lookout for a favourable relocation and while the universe is still working out the details, stay positive and in love. And until the next trip, you and your tanhai should probably get a phone and a data plan…