HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you've just returned home or your spouse is sitting in traffic, consider this: researchers at Umea University in Sweden say a long-distance commute INCREASES the risk of separation and, possibly, divorce by 40 percent.
The average commute time in Hawaii is 26 minutes - slightly higher than the national average of 23 minutes. People are working longer hours. Traffic on Oahu can be unbearable, at times. Less time is spent with the family. Could there be a connection?
"It does make sense that if you don't spend a lot of time with your spouse, have dinner together, hang out in the evening with each other, that you probably aren't going to have as good a relationship," says Sara Mostafa-Ray, a married commuter who travels each day from Hawaii Kai to downtown Honolulu.
The study also found most long-distance commuters are men. When the husband commutes, the wife often takes lower-paying or part-time jobs closer to home - with a larger share of the household responsibility. Women who commute long-distances feel more stress, time pressure, and less successful at work. Not surprisingly, the study found income and careers benefit from commuting, but the social costs should be considered.
When Ross Takara recently married, he and his wife moved from Ewa beach to Kailua - just because his commute to town and their time apart - was too long. "It does kind of wear on you. The longer the commute, you do feel more stress," says Takara.
"As interesting as that study may be, it's not so much the act of commuting. It's the stresses one is under away from their spouse," says divorce attorney, Greg Frey of the law firm, Coates & Frey.
Frey says time on the road is one of many added pressures on today's couples. He points to the high cost of living here and says Hawaii has the highest percentage of both husbands AND wives working - many times, more than one job.
"The Dolly Parton days of 9 to 5, I can't sing the song, but I understand the principle, don't exist anymore," explains Frey. "And they certainly don't exist here because one will work a 9 to 5 job and then work a 6 to 11 job."
Here's another interesting statistic from research found in a book called The Over-worked American. It claims that working couples talk to each other only 12 minutes during the average weekday. As Frey pointed out, maybe commuting isn't the only problem.