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More married couples are living apart

MONDAY, November 28, 2016: Last weekend, I was at a seminar for married couples and the subject had to do with married people who are opting to live apart, perhaps in different towns or even countries, in order to manage the various demands upon them.
It was a very enlightening seminar. As the speaker went on speaking, it became more and more evident that this was a real challenge for many reasons. He also went on to say that it was a growing phenomenon right across the world. Here are a few highlights.
The speaker began with a philosophical question: How long should married couples live apart before it can be considered to be too long? He asked this question because married people do live apart on many occasions, for example, when one travels for a funeral in another town.
As the people in attendance at the seminar discussed this question, it soon became evident that there is no exact time when one can say they have been too long apart. Rather, the longer a married couple live apart, the greater the damage to them and to their children.
A lot of the initial time in the seminar was spent discussing what is causing many married couples to live apart. This was relevant because no one marries in order to live apart from his or her spouse. We marry because “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).
So, why this growing phenomenon? The speaker gave a number of reasons. The greatest pressure was the fact that many married couples now have to juggle between two careers. The husband has a career and the wife has a career, and both have their demands.
That was not the case a generation or two ago. Most of us grew up in homes where our male parent went to work while our female parent stayed at home with the children. If she did any work outside the home, it was something like selling at the local market.
Once upon a time, this was manageable because education was free and employers provided accommodation to employees. Also, upon retirement, you went back to the village to survive on subsistence farming and a little extra money from your adult children.
Times have changed. Children’s education is no longer free, from kindergarten to university. Employers no longer provide free accommodation. You either build your own house or you rent. This forces both spouses in a marriage to develop their careers.
The developing of careers is also the result of a change of emphasis in education. Once upon a time, families prioritised the education of male children because the assumption was that females would get married and only benefit the families of their husbands.
That has changed. Parents are sponsoring both male and female children to go as far as possible in their education. The female children are as passionate about their careers as their male counterparts. So, why should they abandon their careers when they get married?
What is worse is that employers do not consider your marital status when offering you a job out of town. Once upon a time, that is how it used to be. The human resource manager would call you into his/her office, tell you of the offer, and ask you to discuss it at home.
That was then. Today, you simply get a letter informing you that you are being offered or being transferred to a job in another town. Take it or leave it! In a country where the job market is shrinking, many couples are ‘forced’ to take it up and start living apart.
The result of this is that married couples are living with two homes – a primary home where most of the household goods and the children are, and a secondary home where the other spouse lives alone or with a relative. They then visit each other as often as possible.
The speaker at the seminar went on to talk about the challenges married couples that live like this end up facing. My space has run out and so I will write about this in my next installment. Are you living like this at the moment? What has been your experience so far?
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