Long Distance Relationships & Commuter Marriages

Parent Q&A

  • Living Separate from Spouse due to Job Change and Kid Age

    (9 replies)

    My husband and I lived in the Bay Area for many years and then moved out to the midwest due to a job transfer.  My husband's company wants him to move back to the Bay Area.  Due to my husband's work financial situation it is very beneficial for him to make this move vs. him looking for somewhat similar job in the local area.  My daughter is in 7th grade.  So, she would be moving as an 8th grader.  We previous lived in not great school district area so we'd likely be moving to a different area with a better school district.  We currently are going to a top rated (No. 1 ) school in our midwest state.  As a kid I moved in 7th grade and it was the absolute worst year of my life.  My daughter says she is ok with the move.   She likely thinks she'll be easily connecting with her past classmates.  The reality is she'd be in an entirely new school & town and having to meet all new people.  She would only see childhood friends on occasional weekend. 

    I really don't want to move as we moved out here 3 years ago and I just feel like I'm getting settled.  I've moved many, many times (10-11) throughout my childhood and grown life and I really just want to be in one place for a good chunk of time.  We all absolutely loved living in CA but life is easier here in many ways.  Although I have a good commute (30 mi) there's no traffic.  When the weather is nice my kids can easily walk to and from school.  Although our company would provide a cost of living adjustment it does not cover all the added expenses.  I've enjoyed the "break on the wallet" out here and appreciate not living paycheck to paycheck.  If we all move my son would be in the middle school/high school age as my daughter finishes high school so we'd sort of be stuck in CA with a high mortgage as my son finishes high school.  As a working parent I've made good connections that can help me if I end up having to leave work late.  I'd have to start from scratch and re-build all those.  That's especially tough in more suburban areas with less dual working parent resources.  So, I'm considering staying in the midwest with the kids (13 & 9) while my husband goes to CA.  He only needs to work 4 more years before retirement.  I do think doing this for 2 years would be easily manageable but 3-4 years would be really tough.  With our vacation time I'd think we'd see each other just 8 full weeks a year.  I could see that maybe in 2 years I could quit or try to find more flexible job where the kids and I could be in CA for the summers while school is out.  

    My husband works long hours now so during the week I feel like I'm a psuedo single parent.  During the weekends he's super helpful so I know I'll miss all the great work he does.  He's kind of high strung so some of the challenges w/ kid energy vs. his expectations won't be missed much.  

    Wondering if anyone has done separate living before and has some pros and cons I may not be considering.  Due to my daughter's age this makes this decision much more time sensitive.  If she was even a year younger I would think we could test this out for a year and see how things go.  

    One note regarding the children's perspective--I changed schools five times in elementary and high school--so I was pleased that my older son was in the same excellent progressive private school  pre-K through high school.  Several years later he said to me--gee Mom, I wished I had had more experience getting used to a new school environment before I went to college.....on the other hand my younger son still claims we ruined his life by moving to the Bay Area when he started middle school...

    My family did this when my brother & I were kids, pretty similar in age to your kids now. I was 11 in 7th grade, my brother was 8 in 4th grade. My dad took a prestigious contract job in DC for two years, and mom & the kids stayed behind in the Atlanta area. From what I recall, it was discussed that we would all move, rent in DC/rent out the family home, and then move back when the non-renewable contract was up, but we ended up not doing that for logistical reasons, and because no one had a desire to be in DC long-term.

    Pros: no social upheaval for the kids, majority of the family had low cost of living (Dad had an efficiency apartment in VA), great career opportunity with an end date

    Cons: not having dad around was a really big deal for my brother. Dad came home most weekends, but that wasn't enough father time. It was very distressing for him, and for my mom as a result. My mom was very stressed by the whole experience, and I definitely didn't get much of her time or attention during those years because my brother needed so much of it. We did stay in DC for a month the first summer, but everyone's routines were off and it wasn't good quality family time. We only visited for a week or two the second year. My parents marriage was tense for the first couple years after Dad returned from his post. Since I was a kid at the time, I can't say exactly what the problem was, but adult me can guess it's just hard to learn to live together again after living independently for a long time.

    Based on the other responses, it's obviously really unique to each family and each marriage.

    If you decided to stay there, and another person suggested to try for a year, it does not mean that your marriage will fall apart or the kids won't have a Dad near by...

    My best friend stay in Venezuela for 6 years while her husband was working in the oil industry in Mexico. Their relationship was lovely but they were really not together, so I can't talk about their marriage, but the father-kids relationship was outstanding, sometimes much better and close to the kids, than lots of parents that live with their kids....I think it was about personalities, this Dad likes to talk and will skipe every night and they will talk for hours about his job, the kids projects and problems. My kids didn't even wanted to do that with us next to them...

    Both kids were excellent students and socially adapted to their environments, they love their Dad, now they are together and are young adults. Again, if you think your family will be ok at communicating via internet, should be fine!

    Good luck, tough decision!

    It's been interesting to me to read the replies. I know people arrange their families in all kinds of ways. My two cents: Stay together -- one place or another. I think it seems to be losing the forest for the trees to think it's ok for the kids to lose their father's presence in order to not have the struggle of making new friends. I know there is more to it, but honestly. Decide to live in midwest or decide to move back. Separating the family by such a long distance for -- essentially -- the rest of your daughter's childhood seems really dangerous to me. Don't do it.

    My husband and I lived across country for 1 yr. It was very do-able but we didn't have children at the time. We always made sure to plan our next trip before our last trip ended. Always had something to look forward too. We typically planned to see each other every other weekend. Military families do it all the time and make it work but do get extra support during deployments. Maybe might be helpful to connect and see how they make it work. 

    Would your husband's company pay for his CA living costs and trips back to the Midwest? Could he ask for those costs to be paid since the company would have no moving expenses?

    If so, I think you could make the long distance work. It sounds like you already decided you are not moving. I do agree moves are tough on kids. 

    I would suggest that you try for a bit to set aside the logistical aspects of the situation (finances, commute times) and focus completely on what the reality and outcomes would be for your children and your family as a whole. I know that's easier said than done, and everything plays a role in the big picture; however, in the long run what really sticks is how you raise your children and influence them toward your values.

    You have a terrible memory of moving during childhood and naturally you want to spare your kids from the pain you felt. You're in excellent schools and may take a big step down academically if you move back. These are real considerations. On the other hand, four years is a very long time to go without a full-time dad. I notice you think that some aspects of your husband's fathering "won't be missed" though you appreciate his "great work." I realize you can only convey so much in a post but to my outside view it sounds like you view him more as a contractor than a father. Does this reflect the actual relationship or could you be downplaying his role in order to bolster an argument with yourself about living apart? What do your kids think about seeing their dad on a part-time basis? Will they conclude that their dad is not a necessary member of their family, and will that affect their own views of parenting and relationships? What if he can't retire in four years, or would prefer not to? It's not actually clear from your post that you've even discussed this with him (I may have missed something.)

    The reason i ask these questions is because my husband and I were separated for six months before I was able to join him here in the Bay Area, and it was much more difficult than I thought. I, too, considered myself somewhat of a "pseudo-single parent" who did most of the heavy lifting, but I underestimated how important it was for our daughter to see him every day and just know he was there. She was only two at the time but I think your kids are much more vulnerable at their ages because they understand the passage of time and because they already have strong associations with their dad. Also, when you see each other rarely, even if your marriage is strong, you may spend a lot of time discussing or working on trivialities or arguing because each of you thinks you have a heavier burden. If your husband is sometimes high-strung around the kids now, how much worse might it be when the stakes are raised because he sees them so rarely? I can only speak from my own experience, but after a six-month separation (seeing each other every weekend) I can only shudder at the idea of doing that for four years. 

    Good luck with everything and I wish you all the best for your family however it works out.

     Our situation is sort of similar. My husband works 80 hour weeks in Silicon Valley and I will not live there, especially since he's not around at home in the evening. He rejoins the family on weekends and calls every night, it's part of the kids' going to bed ritual.  It's worked out fine.  I disagree with whoever posted about your marriage falling apart with distance, especially during the child-rearing years when it's all about the kids.  The marriage can grow distant or closer depending on those little moments and conversations that you share, and that can happen anytime.  Anyhow, hard choice.  I'd say try it for a year.  

    My husband is a consultant and he used to travel almost 100% of the time for work.  He would be gone from Sunday night/Monday morning to very late on Friday night/usually after midnight.  Seeing each other on the weekends is very workable.  I made sure that all the errands/cleaning/laundry were done during the week so that the weekends could be spent doing more fun things.  When he traveled outside of the country on a 3 month assignment, it was a lot tougher.

    If your husband can commute and come back to your home in the Midwest each weekend, it could work from a relationship standpoint.

    All of the travel worked for us, because the cost of travel was paid by work.  In your case, it seems like the cost would be paid by you.  The money part of this is more difficult, since the cost of flights and a separate living space in CA during the week will really add up.  Will the increase in pay will cover the cost of a second living space and flights?

    Long-term, it seems like you would enjoy being in the Midwest after your husband retires in 4 years.  Life really is so much less stressful in areas other than the Bay Area.

    Good luck with your decision!

    If your daughter is okay with the move, I'd move. Yes, it's awful to be a young person starting a new school (I had to do it a lot, including the whole new-kid-in-the-7th-grade dance), but it's worse to have a marriage fall apart. I have never seen a long distance marriage work. People may chime in that they have, but believe me, it is rare.

    The wisest child rearing books told me that putting the marriage first is an essential building block of a healthy family. I won't go on about all the reasons, and I know it's counter-intuitive., but one reason is that kids are remarkably adaptable, and separated spouses grow apart. And what's the point of your kids having a dad if he's never there?

    You don't say where your husband's new job would be (SF? East Bay? San Leandro?) If your daughter is going to college, you might not need as much room, bringing housing costs down. I don't think I'd buy into this market -- especially if your husband is going to retire in 4 years -- perhaps rent in a good school district? Piedmont? Also, there are magnet schools. Later, you could buy in a lower cost community where you plan to stay?

    The longer you stay where you are, the harder it would be to move your kids. And then your choice about nurturing your marriage would get tougher.

    It is a blow, thinking about the expense, and starting your career again. I feel for you. But life is wonderful here, don't forget.

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions:

Blended family in two different cities?

Oct 2008

My boyfriend and I have been in a committed relationship for a little over a year. We are really well suited to one another; have a lot of fun, share many common values and interests and the sex is great. The problem? He lives in Saratoga and I live in Concord. We are both in our early 40's, divorced and have kids. Due to careers, schools and custody sharing neither of us are in a position to relocate in the near future. Realistically he could relocate in about 5 years. Our time together is usually on weekends when it's just the two of us. We really like and enjoy one another's children but, with schools and extracurricular activities in different geographic locations, it's nearly impossible to spend 'blended' family time together. My boyfriend is an all around wonderful guy and we have something special. It would be great if we could spend more time together to really integrate our lives but I feel helpless as to how it can happen. Has anyone made a long distance relationship (with kids) work? - Are we kidding ourselves?


My boyfriend and I started with a long distance relationship: about 50 miles and an hour plus drive each way. We both are divorced and have our kids part time. Nearly two years later, we have both changed jobs and we moved in together in May. I know I am very happy with things and it made all that driving early on to see each other once or twice a week totally worth it. Plus, I loved all our phone and email communications. If you really care for each other, you can make it work. Best wishes! Former relationship commuter


I am in a new long-distance relationship with a wonderful man who lives on another continent. We, too, are divorced (though in our fifties), and I have a child young enough to make it impossible for me to move (I share custody with my ex). And my job is not moveable, either. So here we are. We send each other text messages several times a day (just ''kisses'') and write at least one fairly substantial e-mail per day. We Skype (free telephone call with video on the computer) once a week or so, and we see each other once a month ($$). Because we are very sure of one another and at ease about our deep feelings for each other, it is relatively easy. Yes, we miss each other, and it is hard when day-to-day problems arise and the lover is not on-site to help or just be there. But both of us have big networks of friends who serve in those capacities, and it is so rare to achieve this level of closeness and security with someone that we feel it is worth it. Before I met him I was trying to find someone through internet dating, and the contrast is just so striking -- the guys I met on-line were nice for the most part, but it just didn't ''click.'' With this guy it has. So I guess I would say that if you feel the relationship is right for you, and you don't feel that you absolutely must have the day-to-day relationship right now (I have so much else to do that I can't honestly say I need it that much), go ahead and have the relationship you can have right now, with the idea that you can move closer in the future. trans-Atlantic


My wife and I dated long distance (LA-SF) for over a year. Two things were important to the success of an LDR: 1) we both knew that it was not an indefinite situation. We knew that there was an end point and that one of us (me) would make the move. 2) we both made the commitment to see one another basically every or every other week. Without those two factors, it will be difficult to make it succeed. Doing the long distance thing is hard enough. Not knowing whether you will ever be in the same city exacerbates that. It puts a lot of pressure on the two of you to make the most of your time on the phone and together if you don't see one another that often. Forget about email. No matter how romantic you guys are long ditance, there really is no substitute for face to face time. More frequent face to face time helps to 1) increase your familiartiy and intimacy and 2) reduce the pressure of your interactions. ''Absence makes the heart grow fonder'' is true only to a point and then it can morph into ''Out of sight, out of mind'' SOme people manage to make it work without all this. Some actualy thrive on not being in the same city all the time but given that you are asking this question leads me to believe that you are not one of those people. Good luck! Former LDR


He has to move for work - is this sustainable?

Sept 2008

I'm looking for advice, hopefully success stories, about long distance relationships. I've been involved with the most wonderful man for the past 3 years and although we haven't lived together we see each other several times a week and spend weekends together. His kids are grown, my daughter is twelve (I've been divorced five years) and all is fine except he is moving away. The company he works for is moving to Chicago and he needs to go. He's looked for other work here in CA but since he only has 5 more years at the company before early retirement he can't chance losing those benefits. What do we do? I can't move now. My daughter's dad is here, my job is here and I can't imagine uprootng my life right now. I'd go in a heartbeat as soon as my daugther is in college. What is sustainable? We could see each other once a month but can we retain that bond between us? Wondering what other couples do in this situation. distance romance


Why not pay attention that 'heartbeat' and give this long distance relationship a chance. Lots of couples are doing this these days. Perhaps because of the economics. I often hear about these situations in my psychotherapy practice in email I receive. In fact, it seems to be so common these days I'm frequently interviewed on the subject for women's magazines. I even spotlighted the subject in 'Breathing Room - Creating Space to Be a Couple' (New Harbinger) http://tinyurl.com/2evgul I used to tell my audiences that my idea of a perfect relationship is someone who lived 7 minutes away. Then I had a change of heartbeat. I've been in an LDR myself for almost 5 years.

The key to LDRs is keeping the connection and good communication:

-Talk together (and often) about what kind of contact both of you need to make it work. How do each of you feel best connected and how often? Maybe nightly phone calls to look forward to. Or emails. Or texting. Or chat. Or camcorder. Or a combination. How long do you need the conversation to last in order to feel connected. How often do you need face-to-face contact? Whose town?

-Know that your needs might change, so keep the door open to refreshing the dialogue.

-Build consistency into the relationship. Because LDRs by nature cause both of you to shift gears, building consistency helps it to thrive. And, it's fun to look forward to your contacts with each other.

-Try to get an understanding of how much alone time each of you needs during your time together. Know what your own 'bottom line' needs are for time and space. Talk with your partner about how to get space needs met for both of you.

These tips are from one of my articles and interviews. Contact me at 510-540-6230 if you want more information or go to my website: http://www/QueenofRejection.com Elayne Savage


The commute to see her is really getting to me

June 2006

I am seeking advice on a romantic relationship I have been having. For the last 3 months, I have been dating a woman who lives just south of Pacifica. Soon after we started dating, Highway 1 - Devil's Slide - was closed due to the heavy rains, which caused to roads to need serious repairs. The scheduled re-opening of this area will not happen until September at the earliest. As a result, it now takes well over an hour to commute from Berkeley to where she lives.

My whole life revolves around Berkeley and the East Bay. I have a child here (part-time), and run my business here. Both of these things take up lots of time and energy. I have been driving down to see her every Fridays; and she has come up to visit me on Saturdays. The problem is, the commute on Fridays is really getting to me; and the result of all this commuting is that we rarely get to go outside of our houses to do any fun activities. Besides, I am pretty entrenched in the urban atmosphere of the East Bay, and I find that the rural area is nice, but boring.

I wondered if anyone can shed light on long distance relationships, similar to this? I should say also that both of us are over 49, own our own homes, and pretty entrenched in our own locations. While it is possible that eventually one of us might move, that would not happen for a long time as it would involve significant life changes. While I think that she is a special person, I have also found that there are definite differences between us.... and when you add the hellacious commute, it just makes it worse...

By the way, she has no children, but she does have a dog who is old and cranky, and does not travel well...

A few days ago, I told her that I could no longer make it down there every week, at least until they re-open Hwy 1. She is pretty angry about that, and basically I think she wants to break up over it. I am not sure what I want, but I also see that it would not be fair to her to continue a relationship if there is little hope of it working. We have dated only 3 months, if we break up now it will be better than being unhappy and frustrated for another few months...

Any opinions on this? Commute Challenged


If there's no way you'd move toward her, be straight with her. If there's no way she'd move away, and wants to break up with you, maybe you're not right for each other. You can always just ''take a break'' and see if you're really dying to be together again. Frankly, even both of you traveling every weekend sounds tedious, but if you can't make it work (even for now), then don't belabor it. But be nice about it, and be honest. Maybe you'll find you care enough to find some common ground. Or maybe you'll find that it just isn't right


One thing you might want to do is make a list of the pros and cons for yourself. Pros on one side of the paper, cons on the other. You could start by taking the post you wrote, and picking out all the descriptors you used for your feelings about the relationship, about her, and about you, and put these feelings into the two columns.

For instance, some of the expressions I see that could go in one column are that you are, ''commute challenged'', the relationship ''would involve significant life changes'', that there are ''differences between us'', it's a ''hellacious commute''. Her dog is ''old and cranky'' and there's ''little hope of it working''. You used the word ''entrenched'' (twice) to describe your current situation.

Once you have this simple list it may help to shed light on your question. This method has helped me solve the most intractable seeming problems over the years. Best of luck, long distance relationships are challenging anon


Deciding what to do about a new relationship that's having problems can be very difficult and agonizing. You don't want to give it up out of fear that it might be the right one but at the same time you don't want to hold onto something that may not be right. Here are my two cents on the situation.

I hear you giving lots of reasons for ending the relationship. One reason is the commute. Other reasons include having differences with her and being bored with where she lives. Also, you mention that she doesn't have children and her dog is annoying.

My advice to you is first to figure out why you're coming up with all these reasons. Either 1) you're putting up barriers to intimacy (and letting the commute do the rest for you) or 2) you genuinely aren't interested in seeing her. If it's an intimacy issue, you really need to examine this. Perhaps you've explored it in therapy, or might consider doing so if you haven't already? On the other hand, if it's a matter of you not really being interested in seeing her, you need to be honest with her. There's no point seeing someone if you know you're no longer interested in them.

As for her being angry with you for not wanting to commute, these are my thoughts. While on the surface it seems inconsiderate that she's angry at you for not wanting to commute each Friday, it could also be a response to how you feel about her. In other words, she may be hurt by the distance you are putting between you and her and the lack of communication on why you're making that decision.

This gets back to the issue of honesty. If you don't want to see her (regardless of the reason), you should be forthcoming and let her know. Or at least tell her you need some distance while you decide what to do. That way she'll have a chance to decide if she wants to continue seeing you. This way both of you will get to decide what to do without keeping each other in the dark Anon


by your message it seems like you already want to break up. i'd say break up. doesnt seem worth it to keep pursuing the relationship. after doing a long distance relationship for 6 yrs and then in end just breaking up, i've always thought that these relationships just dont work. good luck to you! cate


So you drive to see her for Friday evening (and drive back?) and she drives up on Saturday during the day? Do you spend the night there and caravan back to Berkeley in two cars? Can you sleep over, (on the couch even if you are not at that intimate a relationship yet)? Can you not alternate Fridays and Saturdays, or even just Saturdays, one weekend in HMB, one in Berkeley? It seems ridiculous for you both to be making that horrible drive every week, for the same amount of time to be spent together. Why do you both have to be in both cities every week? I think you can work out a way to do this with fewer sacrifices on both your parts, and then decide if those sacrifices are worth it. If it is true love, then it is probably worth the drive. On the other hand, if it is true love, it will probably be able to be rekindled after the pumpkin festival. anon


Long distance relationships can work, but I think it take a lot of patience and humor, and lots of agreement on what you both want from the relationship. And it sounds more like you two have a commuter relationship than a long distance one. When my husband and I were separated for a year while I finished college (and before we were married), we were 500 miles apart, so a weekly visit was not really possible. We had less frequent but longer visits, and that seemed to work well for us. Plus we knew the long distance was a fixed time.

It sounds to me that it's more than the commute that is causing you trouble. If you're feeling ambivalent, it might be a good idea to take a little time off. Or take it the other way, and set aside a chunk of time together--a week or two somewhere. In either (or both) situation, you might discover more what you want with each other and from your relationship Here now


There might be another way of thinking about this impasse. Did you by any chance unilaterally decide to limit your Friday visits? It may be that she wanted to be included in the decision-making process and is angry about that. Maybe if you talk about the difficult commute and its associated problems, you could come up with some other solutions together. Here are some ideas: you visit her for one whole weekend, she visits you for the next whole weekend; she does the Friday commute sometimes; or you meet her in some third city and do something different. I'm sure the two of you could come up with your own list of ideas that would be worth trying. Good luck! anon


It would seem reasonable for you each to take turns - you go to Pacifica every other week for whatever time seems reasonable and she goes to the East Bay the alternate weekends. Seems strange that you both have to do all that driving each weekend. You might want to ask yourself how long you would be willing to do this while deciding whether this person is the special one for you. I did it for 5 years and it became clear that neither he nor I was willing to move so I ended it. Would have been better not to wait so long.... 5 years was too long


So, you both go back and forth to each other's places every weekend? Why don't you go to her house one weekend and she comes to yours the next? Maybe a neighbor can watch the dog. It makes it more interesting and fun when a couple can be more fluid, spontaneous, and flexible, in my opinion... Maybe you can find a place to meet on a Saturday morning that's in between and outside and go for a walk or spend the day at the beach and then spend Saturday night with each other and forget Friday night altogether! Suggest new things to try and if she's not open to them then I would move on. Who wants to get stuck in a rut after only 3 months! all for trying new stuff!


Wow. I feel for you. In fact, I posted a similar message to this board about 3 years ago and got no responses!

But here I am, 3 years later, in a happy, commuting marriage.

Here's the first thing: You have to love each other very, very much. Because it is DIFFICULT, and it will remain difficult.

My husband lives about 100 miles east of here, when he's not in Berkeley -- he commutes twice a week to be with his kids. I get up there much less frequently -- we aim for once a month. There are structural reasons for the imbalance: 1) I have a much more time-intensive custody arrangement than he does, and my child is younger; 2) He has to be in Silicon Valley a couple of times/week anyway; 3) He actually likes the Bay Area better. Nevertheless, the imbalance itself can be a source of friction.

You say that you ''rarely get to go outside of our houses to do any fun activities'' but I'm not sure why the commute precludes that. Just too tired after the drive? We definitely make a point of getting out, because it can be tempting to just ''nest'' when we get our one night alone per week. But we both feel it's important to get out. If you could make a point of getting out, maybe you could learn to appreciate her ''nature zone'' better, and she, likewise, can learn what it is you love about the East Bay urban scene.

Only you can decide whether the relationship is worth the commute to you -- but it sounds like she's decided that it's worth it to her, so I can see why she's hurt by your move to limit visits at her house. I think you have to know, to have faith, that she is THE ONE for you, for the rest of your life, and that this is an investment that will pay off in happiness in your old age. From that faith, you will then need to make the decision that you can do this commute with joy in your heart, and anticipation at seeing, after a long week, your lover.

Tune your radio to NPR, begin each trip with the intent to practice ''road patience,'' keep your cell phone charged, and commit your heart to love. Very best wishes to you --


I read the title of your post with sympathy, as I've been in many long distance relationships and I know how difficult they can be. However, I was expecting the distance to at least involve crossing state lines, so when I saw that the distance was a one hour commute, I chuckled. If you don't feel the relationship is worth a one hour drive, once a week, then I think it's pretty clear that you're not committed to making it work. anon


I have had similar issues and relationships over the years. I am now in the same position, entrenched in the East Bay, with part time care of my young children. My ex wants me closer to him for ease of child transferral. My ''about to be ex'' boyfriend is not willing to travel to Berkeley to see me if I move there from Walnut Creek where he is long established. As my sister advised me, if you aren't excited about the commute, that person out there is not special enough. Cut loose sooner rather than later. It is kinder and she seems to be giving you the cut loose signal through her angry response. Good luck! k


Living apart part of the time

April 2006

There was recently a question about temporary long-distance commuting . I have the opposite question. My husband and I are considering a permanent short-distance commute. The kids and I would live about an hour away and that would be our family home. My husband would come to Berkeley three days/two nights a week (probably leaving Tuesday morning and getting back Thursday night) for his job and be with us the rest of the time.

We would do this because we want to live in a smaller, mellower town where houses are more affordable and it is easier to raise kids. We have friends in this town and family nearby (though we don't expect our family to be of any help). My husband loves Berkeley and loves his job and has tenure so will be working here until he retires. After 6 years I still hate Berkeley and my husband agrees that I've given it enough time and we need to do something else. This was the compromise we came up with.

One more piece to the compromise: He currently goes away for 4-6 weeks each year (in 1 week long chunks) so he can really dig into his work. Having a place here will replace the need for those trips.

Has anyone out there done this? Is it sustainable? Is it hard on the kids? The mom? The dad? The marriage? Any tips for making it easier? anon


Please see my post today under ''Temp. long-distance commute with 3 1/2 Y.O.'' Yes you can make this work, and it could even improve not only your situation but his. Being an academic is very flexible and often telecommuting increases productivity. And coming home to a family that is happier makes it win-win for everyone. (And if you get a hybrid car you can even save on tolls and gas expenses. :-) It is sustainable assuming that everyone's needs are met and no other option clearly dominates. anon


I haven't personally done this but I know someone who has been doing it for over a year. He is gone during the week and home on the weekend. There are issues with it, but it is working pretty well. Since your husband would be home more and the distance you'll be from him is closer than my friend's situation, I think the issues they have wouldn't apply to you. Sounds like a good compromise for your situation. anon


Hi, I don't have experience with this, but wanted to say it sounds like you've thought it through really well. Anything will work if you've thought it through and if you and your husband are in agreement about the details. Perhaps also discuss his level of involvement with the children (ie giving you a break) when he comes home Fridays. Another option: I dislike Berkeley also and couldn't live there. We live in Alameda and I love it. It truly feels like a small community and it is a great, great place to raise kids. Perhaps you want to check it out before moving further away. Anon