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December 18, 2009

The New Weekend Wives

Here, three women who see their husbands only on weekends, and how they make it work.
Plus, 4 secrets to long-distance success.

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And you thought your work schedule was brutal. Some 3.4 million married couples currently juggle long-distance relationships, largely because of out-of-town work commitments, according to the most recent census data. That figure will likely rise, experts say, so long as jobs remain scarce and unemployment rolls high.

Here, three women who see their husbands only on weekends, and how they make it work.

CARRIE LANGENBACH, 29, SAN FRANCISCO, Marriage and family therapist
The hubby: Rich, a construction engineer in Los Angeles.

The commute, door-to-door: Up to four hours, and $150 per week.

Better digs: "I have a one-bedroom apartment and he only has a studio, so it's more comfortable when he comes to visit me."

Worst part: "We want to make every weekend special and magical. But often we end up fighting from all that pressure."

Unexpected upshot: "I don't have to choose between seeing him or my friends. It's like being single while still having the security of a partner."

How we deal: "I adjusted my schedule so that I work four 10-hour days. That way I can extend my trip to L.A. Plus, it's way more affordable to fly on a Thursday than a Friday."

BRANDY BEVERLY, 27, BALTIMORE, Graduate student
The hubby: Keith, an MBA student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The commute, door-to-door: Five hours, and $70 per week.

Better digs: "Our apartment in Maryland is bigger and nicer than Keith's on-campus housing. His place is pretty bare."

Worst part: "We have a 1-year-old daughter, so I never get a break anymore—I'm busy from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day."

Unexpected upshot: "I do it my way when it comes to our daughter. For instance, I wanted to get her ears pierced. He got the picture—after it was done."

How we deal: "We leave our video chat on all day. It's almost like I'm there. We've also started to buy two [of the same] children's books. He reads to our daughter over the phone while I turn the pages."

The hubby: Ben, a petroleum engineer on an oil rig off the Gulf of Mexico.

The commute, door-to-door: Six hours; his company picks up the tab.

Better digs: "My place. When he's working, he lives on an oil platform in the middle of the ocean."

Worst part: "It's hard to do anything as a couple—he averages at least 20 days per month offshore. I don't think we've spent a New Year's Eve together since he proposed on that day five years ago."

Unexpected upshot: "I'm able to devote more time to my career, which, in my opinion, is a plus for someone my age. I also exercise more and dine out less."

How we deal: "We e-mail ridiculous YouTube videos to make each other laugh—humor has become a big part of making the distance work."

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