Monday, January 5, 2009

As economy falters, more families are living apart for the paycheck

I am blessed (or cursed, some might say) to be single with no need to make considerations for anyone other than myself.

I lived in Michigan some years ago after following my military husband from Germany to Oklahoma and Kentucky for career opportunities (read "military orders" for those military readers) for the first few years of our 15 year marriage - . In the military we are not given the choices as spouses or military members of where we live, even as commissioned officers. I think that given the recent wars and skirmishes, the American public is painfully aware of the deployments and accompanying hardships that are an expected part of military life. Indeed, the mental health concerns have been greatly heightened among military counselors given recent spikes in abuse, death by homicide and suicide and all number of fallout from too many deployments as a result of the Iraq war (see my post from last week referencing same in greater detail).

In 1997, my marriage ended whilst living in Michigan. I went back to college and trained to become a PC guru - in theory, I can take a PC apart and put it back together and have it still work. Once I completed the course, I learned that with my language skills (fluent in French and German), I could earn markedly more monies in California or Utah.

I made the painful decision to separate the family - leaving the youngest child with his father in Michigan, while I trekked to Utah with the 3 older children. The former spouse promising to join me once his management training at a large retail store was complete. That unfortunately did not occur. Some 10 years later, and the fallout is still occurring - I had a super senior in high school and one of my sons is 21 and working on a GED - the transition and accompanying stress was simply too much for them to adjust to - being tweens and teens during a divorce/move is painful at best, life changing at worst.

I digress. The tag from this post comes from the NY Times story this morning under Fashion and Style, curiously enough - I wonder whether the economic section might not have been a more appropriate place for the story......Here is the link and as always - please read the story when you have a moment so that you can get it in it's entirety:

Following is an excerpt:

"Reginald C. Richardson, a vice president of the Family Institute at Northwestern University and a lecturer in psychology, agrees. “I think we are going to see more and more commuter marriages in the future, given the global economy and the fact that our technology now makes this more doable,” Dr. Richardson said.
Emma Child, a partner in the investment banking group of Rose Partnership in London, a financial services and corporate search firm, said that in recent months she had noted a marked increase in the willingness of couples to live in different locations.
“Eighteen months ago anyone searching for a new job would ask to be placed in their current location,” Ms. Child said. “Now they come in and say ‘I am prepared to move,’ even, if necessary, without the family.”
She added: “We send a lot of people to emerging markets right now. But honestly, who wants to move the family to Lagos? And if the spouse is working, who wants to give up the second income?”

The story is regarding the skyrocketing number of families living apart due to economic struggles. In days gone by, an employee would not relocate for a job opportunity, citing the need to stay close to family, or continuity in childrens' education, etc. That is no longer an option for many families - based on the article, the families dealing with this tend to be from more affluent echelons of society versus those who are lower to middle income - there is a college professor referenced in the article, for example. Through the miracles of such technologies as email, instant messenging, "free" long distance and Skype, these families are able to keep in touch.

I moved from Utah to New York over a year ago after the youngest child living with me moved back with his dad and the older two were fairly self-sufficient.

I love living in New York. Opportunities abound and are plentiful - the energy is great and I am blessed to be able to work part time at an amazing non-profit while working on my many community organizing projects and still meeting my financial obligations, which have, of course, been pared down to fit the new budget. Gone are the days of 60 dollar dinner tabs, endless shopping on clearance racks for that latest greatest outfit - layaway is a great way to purchase things that take a bit longer to pay for and clearance racks are still my great friend.

I love my new life - it fits me, slow and steady works for me - time to devote to my various causes and no children living at home to worry about. Life is good.

My prayers go out to those families living apart in order to maintain jobs that can sustain their families.

Again, let's pray for the new administration, new jobs, some stimulus in the economy and a sweeping change to come to our country - we desperately need it.

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