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Two Households: The Challenges of Family Life

living apart together in two households

One of the most fascinating things that happened last year was splitting my family life into two households. This family life model is officially called Living Apart Together (LAT). Although the typical LAT circumstances are people who choose to live apart as a lifestyle or whether they are unable to live together, this still counts. For most of the new year, my family will operate from two households in separate countries.

It’s not a common phenomenon, but it’s not uncommon either. It is especially challenging since this new year has started out with Omicron accounting for Covid infection rates rising globally. However, two households across two countries and a global pandemic? Not exactly a walk in the park. Especially the part about the pandemic.

The challenges are all too real.

Challenges of Living Apart Together in Two Households

1. Finances – It’s Expensive

Maintaining a single household is expensive enough as it is. As you can imagine, two households mean two sets of expenses. In our case, two households in different countries mean different currencies. That’s not an easy thing to do. It’s especially tricky if you can imagine one spouse paying for international studies.

Studies? Money. Household expenses? Money. Also, it costs a pretty penny to maintain the needs of two households adequately and keep the family connected. This is why I think furthering education should be included in family finance planning This brings us to the next point. Travel.

2. Disrupted Schedules Due to Frequent Travel

Living apart together requires travelling often. Frequent travel can be exhausting and disruptive schedules. That includes work and school schedules. despite the travel industry encouraging the world to travel more, we are still in dangerous territory where Covid is concerned. News trains are popping up left right and centre.

Some countries are on no-fly lists due to infections rates, and countries including Canada advise against non-essential travel. Quarantine measures, arrival testing, the whole shebang. In fact, I am concerned that another entire shutdown of Canadian borders is looming. I hope not, but it is definitely starting to look like a possibility.

On top of that, my family spent six hours coming through immigration a few weeks ago. Partly due to the (high) season and partly due to new restrictions and regulations to enter Canada. The anxiety nearly killed me. Airports are prime grounds for transmission. Sure, we try to be safe, but the truth is that there is not much social distancing happening on planes. And immigration counters aren’t exactly sterile.

You see where I am going with this.

3. The Effects of Lockdowns

Along with that, Ontario has moved to modified step two of a roadmap to re-open, a step backwards in the three-step plan to reopen that was supposed to lift remaining restrictions by March 2022. Children are doing online school, dining and most recreational places are close or operating at a significantly reduced capacity. These measures are in place to reduce hospital capacity. At present, nearly half of the people testing positive in the hospital initially went there for other issues and later tested positive.

All that to say. Besides the fact that it’s cold as the devil’s balls on earth. we aren’t spending too much time outside of the home. Thank you, Omicron and rising case numbers.

Image by Shandean Reid

4. Long-Distance Parenting

Something that is very new and not the easiest adjustment for me is parenting from a distance. It is also not easy for me to accept that everything that I do in a certain way might be changed. It’s not that I don’t trust that my daughter is being well cared for. I know she is. It’s just that when you’re used to parenting under the same roof, it can be really challenging to simply let some things go. It’s hard (for me). Extra effort has to be extended to ensure that parenting operations are as smooth as possible.

I am also used to being there for everything. Now, I am missing everything. That is a bigger pill tha

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5. Long Distance Relationship

A crucial part of living apart together is the realization that I have suddenly found myself in a long-distance marriage. Something fancied me incapable of managing. See, I am an extremely affectionate person. Physical touch and quality time rank pretty highly on my order of love languages. A long-distance relationship involved the absence (or rather a significant reduction of both.) I have friends in long-distance relationships and marriages, and I have seen healthy ones and strained ones. Coming into it, I was scared.

My husband and I have been in each other’s space (and face) literally from the time we started dating 10 years ago, except for the two months he spent abroad a few years ago. We aren’t just lovers, we are friends. In a way, we are codependent. (Just ask our family and friends, LOL!). How could living thousands of miles apart not be challenging?

I am a jealous woman. Much to his chagrin, my husband fields comments about ‘finding woman’ [Jamaican commentary meaning to find a different spouse] on a regular basis, even though I don’t actually feel that any such thing is happening or likely(Don’t worry, he knows). To combat the discomfort and missing each other, we rely on technology. Video calls several times a day and keeping each other informed on what’s going on helps me feel more connected to home in Jamaica.

Despite the unfamiliarity of it, I knew we would be okay once we had a chance to talk it over together. Months later, I think we are doing well.

Now that I am in the thick of it, I know we’ll be fine doing this thing two households, long-distance marriage thing. But it can’t be over soon enough for me.

Have you ever experienced two households in your family? What made it easier? Share in the comments.

Xo, Shandean

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Shandean Reid

Hi, there! I’m Shan, a heavily caffeinated Jamaican millennial content creator and communications professional in Canada. An effectual storyteller at heart, this blog is my transparent narration of life as a physician’s wife, mom, communications professional, author and anything else I need to be on a given day. I hope you like my sharing space and subscribe!

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14 COMMENTS

  • rachelramdhan

    My husband and I do the living apartment together. Since we don’t own our home, we decided against renting (since I’m already renting with my family) and chose to stick with our current living arrangements. We were doing it since the pandemic started (flexibility of working from home and in office). He spends at least two weeks away from home and me every month. It is challenging but we try to maximize on the time we have together and balance our lives when we’re apart.

    • rachelramdhan

      Living apart together* autocorrect will kill me 😂

    • Shandean Reid 🍃
      AUTHOR

      That’s awesome! Are you working together living together soon?

      • rachelramdhan

        Not understanding the question in its entirety 😅

      • Shandean Reid 🍃
        AUTHOR

        Haha! I was definitely drowning in work (just like right now) when I typed that. I fixed it 🙂

      • rachelramdhan

        Got it.

        Not anytime soon until we’re able to buy our own home which is another challenge. But fingers crossed I’m hoping for the end of the year.

      • Shandean Reid 🍃
        AUTHOR

        Ok. Good luck!

  • Shelly DS

    I can’t imagine doing this, but you seem to be making it work. That’s love!

  • Olivia

    Thank you for sharing!

  • youngsterhousewife

    This is a brand new topic for me, I loved reading about it. Props to you for doing it so well!

  • Kirk

    kudos for you both for managing this. I have tried this in the past but with terrible results. Maybe our relationship was not strong enough.

    • Shandean Reid 🍃
      AUTHOR

      Oh no. I’m sorry to hear. It’s definitely not an easy thing to manage. We’re doing our best!

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