Is your marriage on the rocks? Your commute could be to blame.

Is your drive to and from work the thing you dread most about your day? Does being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic day in, day out make you want to scream? If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.

Denver residents rank 13th in the country for most stressful commutes. With a steady increase of people moving to Denver each year, the city is growing unusually rapidly. Roadways and infrastructure must suddenly accommodate higher traffic–which means higher congestion and longer commute times.

The consequences of a stressful commute

You may hate your commute, but you probably think that once you’re finally home, you can resume life as normal. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so black and white. A recent study found that long commutes can have a negative impact on marriage over time. The findings are two-fold:

First, researchers found that participants with longer commutes were less happy overall. They experienced increased irritability and stress in their lives–both in and outside of the car. In fact, individuals with especially long commutes–more than an hour each way–required an average of 40 percent more income in order to achieve the same level of satisfaction in life as non-commuters.

Second, researchers found that this lowered level of wellbeing experienced by long commuters had a negative effect on their marital life. Long commuters were less happy in general–which made them less available for a balanced, love relationship. The study found that participants who commuted more than 45 minutes each way were 40 percent more likely to separate from their spouse.

You may not always have a lot of options when it comes to where you work. However, there are steps you can take to help keep your marriage on solid ground–even if you spend a lot of time in traffic. Take proactive steps to make your drive more enjoyable. Listen to an audiobook or your favorite music. If you can make a call on a hands-free device while driving, you can use the time to chat with your spouse and catch up on your respective days.

Don’t let a long commute get in the way of a happy marriage. Being conscious of the impact your commute can have on your relationship is the first step toward managing it.

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