When you’re stuck in traffic on I-77, trying to get to work, you might have any number of thoughts running through your head. You may be cursing at the idiot in front of you for cutting you off. You may be worrying about that 8:00 meeting you’ll almost certainly be late for. Or worse still, you might be growing increasingly irritated as you calculate how this setback on the road will throw off your schedule for the rest of the day.
What you probably aren’t considering, however, is how your commute could influence your marriage.
Too much time behind the wheel
A recent study published in the Journal of Urban Studies examined the correlation between commute times and marriage success rates. It found that long-distance commuting can have a negative effect on a marriage’s longevity. The results were two-fold:
The first connection researchers found was between commute time and happiness. The longer the commute, the less satisfied the commuter felt with life overall. Commuters who spent an hour traveling each direction required a 40 percent increase in pay just to match the level of happiness of non-commuters in the same position.
Secondly, researchers found that as commuters’ life satisfaction decreased, their marital problems increased. Spouses with long commutes tended to return home at the end of a long day, frustrated and irritable. In particular, it found that when commuters traveled more than 45 minutes to work, their chance of separating from their spouse increased by 40 percent.
How Mecklenburg County compares
The average commute time for residents of Mecklenburg County is about 24 minutes—which is just under the national average. However, some residents commute upwards of 90 minutes each way—which puts them in the red zone, according to the study.
How to combat the stats
Your commute time doesn’t have to define the outcome of your marriage. The study’s key findings showed that long commutes can create negative emotions for drivers—but you can take steps to counteract these effects.
Find ways to make your drive more enjoyable. Listen to an entertaining podcast or an engaging audiobook. Take advantage of your time alone in the car to play your favorite music—the stuff your spouse can’t stand. You can also use the time to connect with your family. If you have hands-free calling technology, call your kids and have them tell you about their day at school.
Finding ways to make your drive more pleasant will help your time on the road fly by—and allow you to return home feeling happier and more energized for your family.