Friday, November 14, 2008

Living apart

I'm writing a paper for one of my classes. One of the subjects of the paper involves a married couple that is living apart. It's a temporary thing, they live together on the weekends, and it's just for their schooling purposes, but it got me thinking...that's got to be hard. Not too many couples do that, do they?
The last BYU magazine included a paragraph about a guy on the Ballroom Dance team who's on tour in China when his wife has their first child--in Provo. That disturbs me, especially if the baby was born around its due date. Priorities!
Law students often get summer jobs away from the area of the law school, especially if they want to live in another part of the country after graduation. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to leave my family for a few months to do that. I know some people do. I'm sure some circumstances make it necessary, but it seems to me that something like that should be a last resort.
Do we want to normalize being married but living separately? Is that what we want to turn marriage into? How much of a strain is it on a marriage?
Any other examples of married couples living apart for valid (or invalid) reasons?
Will this ever become something the church will address directly?


Katrina said...

One of my husband's college friends is getting his Master's at a university in CO while his wife works in rural UT. She got this teaching job she just couldn't turn down and he got a scholarship that made further schooling possible. But still... I'm with you. I could never live 2 years apart from my husband, only seeing him during holidays. This couple has made it work, apparently (and they have no children yet), but it seems like they'll have quite the adjustment to make once they're living together again--really for the first time since they were married. Definitely priorities, sacrifice, give-and-take are a given in marriage--or should be.

Tim said...

I quit a job to move to Idaho Falls so my wife could do her intership there. I had not been able to line up a job before I moved there, and was aware that it was a tough job market because the market was so small.
My wife quit her job and moved across the country with me so I could go to school.
I guess I don't understand people with the other point of view.

JorgenMan said...

I few years back, I met a girl who was going to MIT while her husband went to Cal Tech. They saw each other every couple of months.
I have to agree with you, Tim. It's very hard to understand the other point of view. In my opinion, if you're not ready to make sacrifices to be together, you're not ready to be married.

alison said...

Here's a slightly different angle:

When we decided that John should come back to finish his PhD at Arizona State, we were debating whether or not to come along. We have three kids, the middle child has autism. Not only would moving be quite likely extremely traumatic for him, but the services he received in Wisconsin were much better in quality and quantity than what he would receive in Arizona.

How do you choose between what's plainly best for a child at a crucial developmental stage and wanting to be together as a family?

We eventually changed our minds and decided to stick together. But it was harder to leave the incredible services and therapies our son received than it would have been to be apart for a time.

It's easy to say that families should stay together. It's harder to say that when I know my child is better off somewhere else.

Woodine said...

We know something of being apart. It happens regularly for military families. Fortunately for us, our sub only goes out for a few months at a time. For other subs and for carriers, it can be 6, 7, 8 months at a time. And for army members overseas it can be over a year.

It's really hard. I know couples that choose to be apart to finish schooling and such - I guess you could say we did when we were engaged, but I think that was a little different.

I'm willing to make the sacrifice of separation because I believe that we are where we need to be right now, and someone needs to serve our country in that way. That being said, we make every possible effort to be together when we can. We made sacrifices to be together in CT because the Navy said they wouldn't pay for me and the baby to go. We went anyway (and they ended up paying for us - a blessing that I can't begin to describe). I think that it is becoming more common for couples to be apart for periods of time for work, school, etc. My personal opinion is that, when possible, it is worth it to make sacrifices to be together. Even if that means switching schools, turning down offers, whatever. There will always be tricky situations that necessitate personal prayer and individual adaptation. But I think if you ask any military wife/spouse they will tell you - being apart is hard. And it is worth some sacrifices to be together.

Cougarg said...

I don't know how qualified I am to say anything about this, but I will.

I read an article about couples that sleep apart, mostly within the same house. Some did it because their work schedules were different. Some because one or both snored or tossed and turned and the other couldn't sleep. Some said it was hard, but in the end it was better for their marriage. I imagine it would be hard to be caring and considerate when chronically tired.

I think that living apart for very long could put a strain on a relationship. You'd get used to not having the other one around, not communicating regularly, etc. It could also make room for greater temptation.

I don't think that it should be a common thing, but I do think that there are exceptions based on circumstances. I mean we hold up the nuclear family as ideal, and just because that isn't possible for lots of people, doesn't mean we lower the ideal. But I didn't come from the ideal, that doesn't mean my family was any less valid than any of my friends' families. But there are cases where living apart is the wrong choice, the selfish choice.

Tim said...

Alison--I'm sure it's a blessing for your kids to have their dad around.
Woodine--I have a great respect for those who sacrifice for the military.
I have a good friend in the Army who rarely sees his wife and daughter. He's in Afghanistan, and they're either in Europe or the US. Very difficult.
I think military families during a war are a bit like the pioneer missionaries that left their families to go preach the word. They're making a sacrifice, and there's no real way to work around it so that the family can be together.

Tim said...

I agree that there are valid reasons for being apart.
But when the married couple's apart just so one can keep a good job, or just so one can go to university x instead of university z...
I think that couple needs to seriously evaluate their relationship.

Woodine said...

I agree.

Katrina said...

So do I.

alison said...

I also agree.

Mommy Bee said...

People often tease Dave with "what did you have to do to get your wife to follow you up to rural Alaska" and you know, the idea of NOT being together would just have never occurred to us. I realize there are situations (military service being the most obvious) when separation is unavoidable, but I agree that being together would definitely be a priority for us.
Hard things may come if we have to give up a job/location/etc, but hey, at least we can take them on together, you know?
Dave and I were long-distance through most of our courtship and part of our engagement. We've been apart for as long as 2.5 weeks (because the weather kept seaplanes grounded last winter and he couldn't get back out to me) and that was HARD. We talked on the phone daily and chatted on IM for a couple of hours after the kids were in bed, but it was still really hard. I don't ever want to repeat it if I don't have to!!