You and your wife have spent your entire married life in Concord. You bought a house here. You raised a family here. And you’ve both had satisfying careers here. But this year, you got an unexpected surprise. Your boss offered you a promotion in the Charlotte office.
Taking the job would mean increased responsibility and a sizeable pay raise. However, it would also mean a considerably longer commute. During rush hour, you’d be looking at close to two hours behind the wheel each day. Should the added commute time really impact your decision?
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t love the idea of spending extra time in traffic. But you probably wouldn’t think about how an increased commute could affect your relationships. However, a recent study shows that commute time can have a marked impact on a marriage’s viability.
Researchers found that as commute times increased, study participants became less happy. They were more stressed, more irritable and expressed less satisfaction with their lives overall. In fact, participants who commuted more than an hour each way needed to earn 40 percent more in order to achieve the same level of happiness as a non-commuter.
We all know that our wellbeing and disposition impact our relationships. Therefore, if a long commute affects our wellbeing, it will logically also affect our marriage. According to the study, the tipping point hovers around 45 minutes. Participants who spent more than 45 minutes commuting each way were 40 percent more likely to separate from their spouse.
What you can do
We’re not suggesting that you should avoid accepting a great job because it has a long commute. However, it’s important to be aware of the interplay between your commute and your wellbeing. You can take steps to actively improve your mood on the road-which will put you in a better emotional space when you get home.
One simple way to do this is to find ways to make your drive more enjoyable. Listen to a funny podcast or an interesting audiobook. Jam out to your favorite band. You can also use the time to call your spouse or kids and catch up with them while you drive. Making such behavioral changes can have a valuable impact on the quality of your marriage-and your life.