Economy forces long-distance marriages - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Economy forces long-distance marriages

CALIFORNIA (WKOW) -- Imagine having to get on a plane just to see your spouse and kids.

Experts say the tough economy is forcing more and more couples to try to stay together, while living apart.

Nancy Fagen is living in a commuter marriage, with her husband three thousand miles away.

"The first time we were apart, it was for about a month, and it was hard. I was
so lonely and I know he was lonely."

Experts say the shaky job market has led to an increase of couples being forced to live apart.

According to the last U.S. Census, 3.5 million couples are now living in commuter marriages.

That's up 30% since 1990.

Experts believe that number is still climbing, especially with the struggling housing market.

Dr. Karla Bergen is the Coordinator of Women's Studies College of Saint Mary.

She says, "The real estate market is really depressed, so the other partner ends up
staying behind until the house sells."

Dr. Bergen studies commuter couples. She says the tolls can be great, especially if kids are involved.

"People get married to be together and when you're in a commuter marriage, you don't see each other as you would normally. There is two times the amount of household chores, two times the amount of repairs."

More and more couples are turning to technology to see each other.

"Today we can stay in touch minute by minute. We've got skype and cell phones and texting," says Dr. Tina Tessina, psychotherapist author of The Commuter Marriage.

There can even be surprising benefits to a commuter arrangement.

"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 of 'Wow I've missed you!'"

The economy isn't the only thing to blame for an increase in commuter marriages.

Experts say an increase of people meeting online and a more global economy are also contributing.

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