Does it matter for us that my partner or I commute ? Spatial mobility for job reasons and the quality of conjugal relationships in France, Germany, and Switzerland
Spatial mobility has often been considered a detrimental factor for families for various reasons, stemming from increasing stress, unpredictability of daily life, increasing gender inequalities, and decreasing investment in parenting and partnerships due to time and space constraints. This contribution considers how daily long-distance and weekly commuting, frequent absence from home, and long-distance relationships for job-related reasons affect conjugal quality. To investigate this issue, we used data from a large European survey on job mobility and family life (JobMob), based on 2,914 individuals reporting a stable partnership and living in France, Germany, and Switzerland. We first empirically defined eight positions in the social space according to the current mobility practice from each partner and major socio-demographic variables. We then explored the extent to which those positions affect conjugal satisfaction and conjugal conflict within the three national contexts, complementing the analyses by including the process by which one became mobile. We found that job mobility had no significant effect on conjugal quality. Lower quality of conjugal relations rather concerned mobile people who experienced decisions to become mobile both negatively and collectively. We further discuss the importance of our results for understanding the functioning of contemporary couples facing mobility demands.