Commuter Marriages

Renea,

What does the Bible say in regards to having a commuter marriage for a certain period of time. What scriptures can I reference to support or reject the idea of a commuter marriage. When I say commuter marriage I mean living in another state for part of the week to work and then flying home the other half of the week to be with my family. What are some biblical references to working in another state and commuting back and forth in my marriage.
_________________________________________________________________

Hi Sandor,

Thank you for writing. Interesting question; I wonder where it’s coming from. The Bible says nothing on the subject directly even though soldiers and their wives experienced a similar sort of “commuter marriage.” The Bible is rather clear that marital separation is not ideal:

Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. (1 Corinthians 7:1-6, The Message)

But just because something is not ideal does not mean it is a sin, or that the Bible categorically rejects commuter marriages. Sometimes what is not ideal is necessary: war, for example.

Does that help? Please write again if I can be of further help.

God’s grace and peace to you.
Renea

What do you guys think? Does the Bible have anything more to offer us pertaining to this dilemma?

What advice would you give to someone in a “commuter marriage”?

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10 Responses to Commuter Marriages

  1. Missa says:

    I could be WAY off the mark as to what the questioner is asking for, but there are a handful of spots throughout the OT that list laws and stories about men being away from their families in times of war, and there are some great stories about how people handled it well or badly. Example: men were to spend their 1st year of marriage with their brides, period. The emphasis was on the practical bit, ensuring the wife was able to get pregnant and continue the family line, that sort of thing. For us modern day types whose culture really emphasizes the partnership aspect of marriage: this would give the couple time to gel, come together, and the understanding that is especially needed when you endure regular separations.

    I have some materials that have been shared during deployment times, I’ll dig them out an give some better specifics! :0)

    That’s a really hard decision to commit to either way, may the Lord bless and guide you!

    • reneamac says:

      Thanks, Missa; that’s a great example!

      Any specifics you have I’m sure will be helpful, not only to Sandor, but to those who happen upon this post and are in the same situation asking the same questions. Thanks for digging them up for us. 🙂

      • Missa says:

        Okay- I found them! YAY!
        So- I really need to preface this with saying that all of the scriptures I’m about to list have been used on both sides of the argument.
        The full scripture that I referenced above is Deuteronomy 24:5: “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” Marital bliss is important to God! While it is still really possible to come together to form one flesh with the miles separating you, it makes it so much harder than it needs to be! So, if you are in first year or so of marriage, be especially cautious. On the flip-side, if you don’t have a choice (deployment etc)- be intentional about how you cleave. Make a game plan. Write a bazillion letters to each other. Work towards promoting each other’s happiness, make it a priority. Do your best to have a good attitude. Otherwise, you can destroy that fragile bond with your own hands.
        The next scripture is Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. For whom am I toiling, he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment? This too is meaningless- a miserable business!” Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be over powered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” A chaplain shared this one with me when my husband was contemplating a career change within the Army that meant he was going to be at home a lot less. One of the things he asked me was if I trusted my husband to pursue his calling without bankrupting the overall health of our family. Did I trust him to balance his desires with what was best for our family and marriage? Sometimes doing what we are called to do requires sacrifice that is painful. But that’s something that you and your spouse will answer praying together to God. This scripture also highlights how you know you’d be doing this the right way if you are commuting. Are you going to be surrounded with wise people who are going to push you towards God and your spouse? Do you both have a support system that will help you grow spiritually and keep you sane? If you have kids at home, does the parent at home with them have the help they need? Have you discussed giving that at home parent a regular, non-negotiable time alone when the away parent is home? Chances are if you are pursuing putting together a game plan and are experiencing a lot of doors being slammed in your face, God is telling you something stinks.
        Lastly, the scripture from Corinthians is actually a really great reference because it addresses attitude and the need for an end date. It could be an event or a designated time frame that is considered okay. You might even have to adjust when that end date is- but be in conversation with your spouse about working towards that end date. When you are exhausted and longing with all of your being for that end to hurry up and get here already- tell your spouse. I have many friends who experienced the same things as their spouse while separated by hundreds or thousands of miles and being vulnerable to each other and sharing ultimately built their bond and increased their trust in each other.
        I have to agree with Kate that daily separation can be seriously dangerous to your marriage. But I know from first hand experience that if you are walking out God’s plan for you, He’s faithful to protect you and your marriage. Trust Him- He’ll share His will with you!
        Whichever way ultimately you are led to go by our Gracious God- blessings on you! Hope this is helpful!

  2. You know says:

    Renea –
    I love your wisdom and your thoughts, but I think you’ve missed the mark a bit. You’re taking that passage, which is applying to sex within marriage, and drawing out a wider conclusion that I don’t think we can make.

    It would be hard to do a long-distance marriage, but I know people who have done it and have very strong marriages. I think it depends on the people involved and the specific situation. As the commenter above me said, sometimes it’s necessary for jobs (such as military) or other reasons (sick parent or something). It’s not ideal and probably should not be forever, but I see no reason why it couldn’t work for a little while, especially like if the family was planning to move eventually (within a set period of time or something).

    Best of luck with your decision, Sandor.

    • reneamac says:

      Thanks, You. I think we agree; you said what I said—that it isn’t ideal but may be necessary—but with more encouragement about making the best of a less than ideal situation, which is where I think I probably did miss the mark. So thank you for filling in those gaps!

  3. Kate Watson says:

    I think that the idea that it is “less than ideal” is true, but a soft way to put it. The thought that you could maintain an intimate relationship with your spouse long-distance, long-term (for more than a month or so), should be looked at with the same heavy respect as marriage itself. Paul expresses in 1 Cor 7 the hardships that come with marriage especially in light of our devotion to God. I think that the weight of that is serious and often underplayed in our culture, and I feel like the issue of a husband and wife living separately is equally (if not more so) underplayed. Anytime a husband and wife are facing a time of physical separation it should always be as a last resort, when there are no other options, and for as short a time as possible. Outside of the issue of sex (which is huge here, no doubt), there’s no amount of skyping, calling, texting, or “weekend visits” that can be a sufficient substitute for the actual couple living together day in and day out. I, personally, don’t see it JUST as “less than ideal” but actually as “dangerous.” I know using that word will likely stir up some dissenting opinions, and that’s okay. I just think it’s heavier than anyone has yet expressed.

  4. suzanne says:

    I think some people are able to do it, and others may not be. My husband and I have somewhat of a commuter marriage, part of the year he travels during the week and comes home on the weekends. Yes it is less than ideal, but I consider it about a million times easier than my friends whose husbands are serving in the military and dealing with deployment. And in some ways it’s also better than other situations where one or both spouses have odd hours (ie, doctors/nurses/police/firefighters working rotating shifts, working on christmas day, having to work the night shift on your birthday/valentines/anniversary, etc.) We all have our challenges, but I would not consider this a black and white issue.

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