what it means to be a commuter couple

Whenever anyone asks what Bob does for a living, I just say, “He’s a computer consultant.” Which is true. He is. But a computer consultant can do a lot of things. What he does is highly specified and blah blah blah… doesn’t really matter too much for the purposes of this post. But in case you’re interested, he’s technically a systems consultant and works with Essbase – an Oracle Hyperion product.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… let’s get to why what Bob does for a living is relevant to this post. Well, he works for a company called Key Performance Ideas. The unique model of this company is that they do not have a traditional bricks & mortar office. They all work either remotely or at the client. And up until now, Bob has worked remotely. Which means, from home. Until now.

At the moment and until the end of May, Bob is on a project in San Francisco… making us a commuter couple. The client covers his travel back and forth on the weekends. Last week we had one night and one and a half days together. This week we will have two nights and two and a half days together.

His being on this project is a great thing. For him. For the company. For his career. I just wasn’t sure how it would be for us. For me.

Back in October, I was convinced this house was haunted. There was absolutely no way I would consider being ALONE in this house!!!! Well, here we are and it’s not so bad. I now know the house isn’t haunted. I’m far more comfortable here than I was when we first arrived. And I have people looking out for me. Not to mention Pablo. He’s been a great companion. Oh- and having my new job has been so great. It gives me structure and something else to focus on – other than writing and being alone.

I’m all about the upside

If you’ve know me or have been following my blog “Love in the Time of Foreclosure,” you know that I’m all about the upside in life. And this new set-up isn’t any different. Yes… though we are living apart, there’s still an upside.

It’s the time we have together. Bob and I agreed that we would manage all of our work stuff while we were apart so that when we’re together we can just be together. That means that I get all my writing done while he’s away. I handle all house-related stuff (that can be handled without him.) Simply put, I manage my ‘chores’ and work. All with a purpose. To get them out of the way so that when we’re together… we can really just be together.

Last weekend from the moment I picked Bob up from the Friday Harbor airport to the moment I watched the little six-seater plane carrying him away, all we did was play. And I honestly can’t remember the last time we reserved an entire weekend to just enjoying life and each other. Usually, since we’re together all the time, we have stuff we have to do. Work, writing, bills, etc. We’ve never approached the weekend as sacred ‘us’ time. Now we are and it’s pretty great.

Of course I totally miss him. But we video chat and talk at least twice a day- morning and night. We’re both busy and working hard so that when we do see each other, we’re totally present.

Commuter Couples everywhere

I don’t have to look very far to find examples of commuter couples. In my own family there are two. My dad and stepmom have been a commuter couple for the last couple of years while Dad manages his business and travels back and forth from Monterey, California to Illinois. And my mom and stepdad have been spending a lot of time apart lately as Tom has been in Florida earning his Captain license while Mom remains in Illinois managing her Real Estate business.

Commuter couples are becoming more and more common in this economy. An ABC News column Recession Marriage Trend: Living Apart profiles several couples living apart in order to stay employed. This is far from anything uncommon. It’s another “new normal” thanks to the “new economy.”

A big dose of perspective

The other night I was in bed saying goodnight to my husband over the phone (missing him) and I thought about military couples. I thought about pregnant women left at home by their husbands who are sent off to Iraq or Afghanistan. And I got really sad. For them. Because I have no idea how they do it. How do they cope? It seems impossible and so tragically difficult. And of course it really puts our situation in perspective.

Bob is just down the coast. We’re still in the same time zone. I get to see him every weekend. His life is not in danger. Sure, I’m alone in a big house on an island. Pregnant. But it doesn’t really feel that way. I mean, I don’t feel alone. If anything, I feel focused. Our being apart for most of the week is a small sacrifice compared to the experience of many other American families.

If anything, our new set-up has me be grateful.

I’m grateful for my new job

That Bob is employed and working on such a fantastic project

That I have Pablo to keep me company

I’m grateful for the focus that our separation provides

I’m grateful for the time we do have together

I’m grateful that I’m not afraid to be alone

I’m grateful for the friends I’m making here lately

I’m grateful that I’m never bored


I’m really grateful for my new pregnancy body pillow (more on that in a later post)

Last Saturday we spent some time at Deadman’s Bay. Doesn’t sound very romantic, I know. But it’s one of my favorite spots on the island. Next time I’m there, I’ll take pictures, I promise. Anyway, we just sat on driftwood talking and watching the water. Bob said that coming home to the island every weekend was like going on vacation once a week.

So… for now all is well. We’re working it out. It’s actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. This week flew by. Already tomorrow morning I’ll be picking up my husband from the tiny Friday Harbor airport for another weekend “vacation” together on the island.

Are there any commuter couples out there reading this? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Also, military families? How do you do it?

(If you’d like to read about why we thought this house was haunted when we first moved in, that post is here.)

(About the picture: I took this picture one night just before turning the lights out to sleep and sent it to Bob to say goodnight. I’m wearing one of his dress shirts. Ever since he’s been gone I’ve been sleeping in his dress shirts. This was a brilliant idea on my part for two reasons. 1. Helps me feel close to him. 2. The shirts actually fit over my pregnant belly and are super comfy.)

And lastly…

I loooove this song and listen to it all the time when Bob is away:


One Response

  1. My dad and his fiance have been a commuter couple the entire time they have been together! Crazy circumstances brought a woman in Florida and a man in Illinois together and they are finally getting married in May. I can say first hand that it has been a struggle for them, a huge one at times. But I can also say it is very encouraging watching how hard they have worked to stay together because they decided long ago it was worth it and they loved each other. So at long last they will finally be able to live together in one house, knowing there isn’t much they can’t succeed at after 3 years of dating 1200 miles apart from each other.

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