Living Apart for the Paycheck

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by Principessa, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. Principessa

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Messages:
    19,494
    Likes Received:
    28
    Gender:
    Female
    Living Apart for the Paycheck
    By JENNIFER CONLIN

    IT’S a typical weekday in the Ghosh household. Two-year-old Emilio, strapped in a highchair, is dallying over breakfast while his father pleads with him to finish.

    “Try some blueberries,” Gautam Ghosh suggests, then slips his hand into a Baby Einstein puppet and begins his daily ritual of entertaining Emilio while his wife gets ready for work.

    Such scenes are hardly unusual for two-career couples with children, but this one is remarkable for the fact that Dr. Ghosh, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is nearly 9,000 miles away and a daunting 16 hours behind his family’s time zone. When his wife, Cecilia, and Emilio begin their day in New Zealand, it is the previous afternoon in Dr. Ghosh’s Philadelphia office, where he conducts his morning video chats with Emilio via Skype — software that enables users to transmit their voices and images through the Internet.

    “We talk in the morning and around dinner, when my wife needs my help the most,” said Mr. Ghosh, whose wife recently accepted a post as an assistant professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

    “This was a career decision we simply had to make for financial stability,” he said.

    The Ghoshes are hardly alone in choosing to live in different places because of work. In 2006, the Census Bureau reported that 3.6 million married Americans (not including separated couples) were living apart from their spouses. In March, Worldwide ERC, the association for work-force mobility, released a report revealing that three-fourths of the 174 relocation agents surveyed had dealt with at least one commuter marriage in 2007, a 53 percent increase since 2003.

    Reginald C. Richardson, a vice president of the Family Institute at Northwestern University and a lecturer in psychology, agrees. “I think we are going to see more and more commuter marriages in the future, given the global economy and the fact that our technology now makes this more doable,” Dr. Richardson said.

    Emma Child, a partner in the investment banking group of Rose Partnership in London, a financial services and corporate search firm, said that in recent months she had noted a marked increase in the willingness of couples to live in different locations.

    “Eighteen months ago anyone searching for a new job would ask to be placed in their current location,” Ms. Child said. “Now they come in and say ‘I am prepared to move,’ even, if necessary, without the family.”

    She added: “We send a lot of people to emerging markets right now. But honestly, who wants to move the family to Lagos? And if the spouse is working, who wants to give up the second income?”

    Until last year, the author and teacher Miles Harvey and his wife, Rengin Altay, were getting by in Chicago on two freelance incomes. But when his wife, an actress, lost her Screen Actors Guild insurance because her voice-over work had all but dried up, they began worrying about their financial future, particularly with two young children to support.

    “I wonder if we would be doing this if the economy was better,” said Mr. Harvey, who accepted an assistant professorship at the University of New Orleans last spring and who now commutes weekly to Chicago. Though the plan is for the family to move to Louisiana, he says, “It is not a great time to buy a house in New Orleans, nor is it a good time to sell one in Chicago.”

    Lori Janoff, who lives in the family home in Larchmont, N.Y., with her two youngest children, ages 17 and 15, while her husband, Peter, is in Brazil working as an asset manager for a property management company, said, “Without a financial incentive I don’t know why anyone would do this.”

    Ms. Janoff, who sees her husband once every six weeks, when he flies home, added, “It was the perfect timing professionally for him, and the worst timing personally for our family.” She said it would be disruptive to move her daughter, who is in her last year of high school, noting that moving to Brazil would also be tough on her and her youngest son.

    “We don’t speak Portuguese, and we would both have to make all new friends,” Ms. Janoff said. Of course, raising children as a single parent has its share of challenges, some of which are similar to divorced parents.

    “I have all the responsibility now for the children and have had to become the serious disciplinarian,” Ms. Janoff said. When her husband comes home he gets to be “Mr. Fun,” she said.

    Ms. Altay of Chicago said, “I know I holler more,” adding that she retained her role as chief authoritarian when her husband visited because “it helps to have one boss laying down the rules.”

    Conversely, the out-of-town spouses lament that they feel like outsiders in their own homes — an issue Amos Guiora, a law professor at the University of Utah, said he got over quickly when he moved in 2004 to the United States from Israel for work.

    “I realized quickly my status had changed,” Mr. Guiora said. “You have to pick up the rhythm of the family, they shouldn’t have to pick up yours.”

    Sarah Larson, whose husband commutes to Detroit from Chicago three days a week to manage a real estate development project, said she treated their two children, ages 11 and 13, differently while he was away. “I don’t worry about what is for dinner when my husband is not home,” Ms. Larson said. “I am sure the kids’ manners are deteriorating and they are not getting as nutritious a meal, but that part is definitely a lot easier.”

    The at-home spouse may find that there are actually a few small advantages to having their partner away.

    While loneliness is often a big factor for both spouses, it can also add romance to the relationship.

    “The physical distance has been exhilarating for our relationship,” said Audrey O’Connell, a department head at a London museum, who has been married 42 years to her husband, John. They are on their third year of a long-distance marriage (he moved back to their home in Montana to work for an educational institution) and have a rule that they must meet at least once every five weeks for a minimum of five days.

    “I hate e-mail,” said Mr. Guiora’s wife, Hagit. Her husband calls her twice a day and sleeps with his cellphone next to his ear so their three children can reach him any time of day.

    “A couple of hundred years ago a sailor went to sea and you didn’t know if he were dead or alive for a few years,” says Tina B. Tessina, whose latest book, “The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You’re Far Apart,” gives couples tips on how to stay connected, which include making use of the latest technology.

     
  2. Jovial

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    2,404
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    5
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    CA
    I think it's dumb if it is a situation that lasts for several years, unless you don't like your family. Isn't part of the enjoyment of life being able to spend time with the ones you love? They would have to pay me a whole lot more to do this, unless it was only for a short period of time.
     
  3. Principessa

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Messages:
    19,494
    Likes Received:
    28
    Gender:
    Female

    The New Zealand/Philly marriage thing is pretty extreme. I couldn't do that.

    All of my serious relationships have at some point been long distance, so it doesn't strike me as that odd. It has nothing to do with not loving your spouse and everything to do with the fact that you can't eat love. It's very practical. :cool:

    In addition absence does make the heart grow fonder. :heart:
     
    #3 Principessa, Jan 4, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
  4. Phil Ayesho

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2008
    Messages:
    5,597
    Likes Received:
    886
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Diego
    This is why so many immigrants from certain countries manage to do so well in the States.

    The ability to sacrifice and plan.

    A few years, or even a decade spent apart may well position both of them in their career so that they can someday both have far more lucrative careers in the same city.
    Accruing enough income to send their children to the finest schools, where their children will probably buckle down and excell because of their parents hardworking example and respect for education.

    I don't think I could do it... but then that might explain why I am not far better off financially than I am...

    Americans tend to have a romanticized view of relationships... and its a huge pressure on couples... this expectation of romance.... it can really get in the way of happiness and achievement.

    Sure its a sorrow to be separated from those you love.... but sometime enduring that separation can be the most loving thing you can do, to secure your family's future.
     
  5. AlteredEgo

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Messages:
    14,469
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    6,584
    Location:
    United States
    My future father-in-law went to work and study in Texas for over two years, commuting back to Colorado on the weekends to see his wife, young son, and baby girl. His wife gave him grief for it before-hand, and nearly the entire time, but he knew it was best for his family. When he graduated, he received a series of promotions, and nearly immediately moved his family to a huge house, on a huge lot. It had two stories, plus a basement and an attic. I don't know how big, but in the videos, the swing set looks like it would have eaten up the entire yard of the house in which I grew up. They had a huge gazebo with a six-person hot tub, and two cars. He gave his children computers to excel in school, and threw his daughter a quincinera like the wedding of your dreams. When his children went off to college, he and my future mother-in-law rewarded their hard work (and their own good parenting) by giving them the family cars, and buying new ones for he and his wife. When the opportunity arose for him to achieve another promotion if he went back home to Puerto Rico, the place in which he started with absolutely nothing, he took it. They live in a gorgeous, five-bedroom fantasy with a pool, three cars, and a dog, pay their daughter's tuition and housing in cash, and are still able to take vacations together when work permits. Througout my fiance's childhood there were vacations, and parties. Two boxes hold the video evidence of his fantastic lifestyle growing up with his hard-working parents.

    Their life would be dramatically different if that man didn't just suck it up, even without much emotional support from his wife, and do what he knew was best for his family. Some people just know how to suck it up and do what is necessary.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted