Drive to work = Divorce?

A reader writes…

Hi Anita,
I, like many Americans, am stuck in traffic to and from work every day.  Living in Southern California, I feel like I’m in a marriage with the 405 freeway, rather than with my husband.  There’s suddenly a lot more tension around the house (once I finally get home).  I can’t afford to change jobs, and don’t expect you to dish out marital advice, but what can I do?

Dear, “Chagrined Commuter,”

You’re right, my purpose here is to offer work-related advice, but I find your question interesting  —and am sure plenty of others can relate!

For many people, a long commute is just part of the job.  You need to factor in this time away as part of your work schedule – which may mean a big shift in responsibilities at home. 

Now, I have no idea what your personal  life is like, but if you’re expected to be “June Cleaver” and have the chores done, dinner on the table, and kids in bed on time – ALL after pulling an 8-hour workday plus a 2-hour (round-trip) commute, something’s gotta give!

You and your spouse need to openly discuss options and figure out how to divvy responsibilities.  Since it doesn’t sound like your commute will be going away anytime soon, I encourage you to make the most out of your driving time.  For instance:

  • Get on the phone with your hubby (using a hands-free device at all times PLEASE), and chat it up while you’re on the road.  He can keep you company; you can discuss your days, and figure out a “plan” for dinner, etc.
  • Use the time to unwind.  Listen to a talk-radio show, play some good tunes, or enjoy some peace and quiet (something you may not get at work… and you DEFINITELY won’t get at home if you have toddlers!)
  • Take advantage of the time to unwind from your day on the job and transition into your “other job” as wife, mom, and/or CEO of the homestead.  This mental shift will help you turn off work so that you can fully engage with your family once you pull into the driveway.

Commutes are a lot of work – but so is marriage!  My friends at CareerBuilder recently posted an article on this very subject that I think you’ll enjoy:

I sincerely wish you all the best and remind you to drive safely!

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. walism
    Nov 16, 2011 @ 19:24:24

    cool advise.. 🙂 like reading it.



  2. m.capriola
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 11:34:16

    A few years ago one of the weekly news magazines had an article on the extra stress people are acquiring from increasing commute times. So you’re in a very big club.

    It’s no fun to spend an hour or more developing stress before you even get to the office. My first suggestion is to go to work a half hour early to avoid the rush hour. And come home either a half hour early or late. The trick is to avoid the daily traffic jam in and out of the urban morass.

    My second suggestion is to take a train if at all feasible. Then someone else can worry about the driving.

    One more. Carpool. Spread the stress around; 4 people carpooling means you only have to drive one day a week. And the time can be spent chatting with friends which should reduce stress even more.



  3. Oscar
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 08:49:46

    Anita, your advice to “Chagrined Commuter” is very good and effective. Based on the questions you’re being asked and the comments from other readers, it seems that a lot of people are focusing on problems (not working or not being happy with their current jobs) rather than solutions. Do not spend any time looking, thinking or talking about your problems and start looking for all the possibilities available.
    Learning how to swims when you are in deep water is too late. For those that are working but are dissatisfied with their current jobs, for whatever reasons, the following can be helpful:
    1) Start putting your BEST EFFORTS in doing whatever duties you are doing with a great and cheerful ATTITUDE. Then start learning 1 or 2 a different fields (don’t tell me that you have no time. Bill Gates and you have the same 24 hours). This will give you the confidence to move to a different company doing what you are doing or move to your new field. Remember; never put all your eggs in one basket.
    2) For those that are currently unemployed, start looking for ANY type of job and then follow advice #1. This will allow you get out of where you are into what you really want.
    3) The BEST advice I can give you is STAY AWAY FROM ALL NEGATIVE PEOPLE AND ENVIROMENT. This includes watching or reading the news, telling your problems to other people or listening to their problems. Please keep in mind that GREAT MINDS discuss ideas; AVERAGE MINDS discuss events and SMALL MINDS discuss people. BE GRATEFUL; Think about all the good things you have in your life, like all your senses and your health to name a few. Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, would have given all his billions to have what you have…TIME and HEALTH.



  4. Elizabeth
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 08:22:19

    Just started looking for work again and I’m getting nowhere…I’m just a warehouse (ex warehouse) employee and I have many years of experience but there is nothing out here. I hated the hours a week I was stuck in traffic and the difficult boss but now I just miss the money….I actually walked off my last job because I was being treated unfairly. I was denied unemployment and had to go on county aid for the first time in my life. I have lost confidence in my ability to take care of my kids and I think in myself. I live in Palmdale, Ca.



    • Ron Shada
      Oct 24, 2011 @ 07:13:38

      Lean Manufacturing has become a mainstay in today’s modern manufacturing companies. For those who do not have a technical degree, or a supervisory management degree, will have a harder time finding employment. Unemployment for those with degrees is 4.5%. Unemployment for those without a degree 9.1%. Don’t forget those who gave up looking, add those, 15%. My point is, in these hard times, little inconveniences like travel headaches should be overlooked. Imagine you being one that has to take a new and very difficult approach to finding employment.



  5. Richard
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 16:43:54

    Tax breaks to wealthy corporations- how typical.



  6. Qunitina Dorsey
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 08:23:04

    Hi! Anita I like many other Americans I have been out of work since January, I go on all of thses job sites and it is always no. I am back in school and I do not understand why all these jobs wants you be be working for a least a year. I have job experience nad I am a good worker. i just really ready to start working again do you have any advice.



    • anitaclew
      Oct 18, 2011 @ 11:18:25

      Hi, Qunitina. You’re in good company, my friend, though I know that may not make you feel better. More and more people are joining the ranks of the “long-term unemployed.” As a matter of fact, nearly half of those without a job have been unemployed for longer than 6 months – and you’re right that sometimes, the long-term unemployed is dismissed by hiring managers as viable candidates. However, since you are part of a large – and growing group of Americans – and I believe that trend will start to change fairly soon. President Obama has even proposed a jobs bill that will provide a tax break to those companies who DO hire long-term unemployed seekers. So, hang in there. I know it’s tough, but it will get better. In the meantime, please read my post on discussing gaps in employment during the interview:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
%d bloggers like this: