Here's another reason that our sprawled-out suburban development patterns suck. According to a new study out of Sweden, long distance commutes put a major strain on personal and social relationships, and increase the chances of couples splitting up.
The findings indicate that long-distance commuters run a 40 percent higher risk of separating than other people do, and it's the first years of long-distance commuting that are the most trying for a relationship.
The researcher used data from 1995-2005, and since then there's been a considerable—if not dominant—shift in the workplace to allow for employees to work from home or remotely. (Actually, I'd be interested to see a long-term study on how working from home impacts personal relationships. There are certainly pros and cons to never leaving the house and to having your office a few feet from the dinner table or bedroom.) But taken alone, this study proves the somewhat obvious case that it's not good for your personal health or relationship to be sitting in a car for hours on end every day. Environmental sustainability isn't the only good reason for living close to your work (or working close to your home). There's also fiscal responsibility and relationship sustainability too.