The year 2000 sparked a myriad of changes for the world that we once knew, such as computer-based technology, smartphones, and long-distance education. As we entered the year 2010, we began to adjust to even more societal changes. The rise in commuter marriages has now changed the structure of the American family. Gone are the days of Leave it to Beaver when the whole family sat down to dinner at 5:30 every evening, and here are the days when dinner is picked up through a drive-thru window and family conversations are done through Skype and Instant Messenger. As the economic climate of the United States took a turn for the worst, the amount of people who travel for work has increased significantly.
A commuter marriage is described as an arrangement where couples live apart for work voluntarily. Some of these couples may live in completely different areas for months at a time, others for years at a time. The scarcity of available work in cities across the United States has forced couples to look at commuter marriages as a possibility. Though it may not always be their first choice for their family structure, it has saved many couples from financial disaster in the absence of available work in their current cities. Couples who commute for work can now enjoy bigger paychecks without uprooting their families and living in more expensive cities. The difference in their paychecks helps families who may not have had the means to save if they remained employed in their current cities. It has also provided a safety net for families who have had trouble selling their homes since the real-estate market took a nosedive. When one spouse is faced with the opportunity to make more money in a different city, a commuter marriage allows the couple to take advantage of the new opportunity and not have to face the financial setback of not being able to sell their home.
While commuter marriages are just now becoming mainstream, military families have been doing it for years. Almost every military family has had to endure at least one long-term deployment. Being without his or her spouse for long periods of time has become child’s play for the seasoned military spouse. Civilian families are taking cues from these military families by engaging in car pools, support groups, and combined family outings. Military wives have a long history of rallying together to support their fellow comrades during long periods of deployment. Having a strong support group makes it easier to endure things such as financial planning, home repairs, and child rearing alone. It requires the spouse who is left behind to become more creative in dealing with the stressors of everyday life.
Luckily for these couples, we are now in the age of computer technology. The use of innovations such as Skype and Instant Messenger has provided a way to ease the pain of being away from a loved one. Computer technology has also provided an alternative for employers when recruiting new personnel. Work-at-home job opportunities allow for a spouse to work from anywhere on the globe, thus making it easier to travel and spend time with their absent spouse. The emergence of commuter-based employment options, along with growing technology innovations has provided a new social structure that is plausible and more commonplace for any modern family.