How couples cope with business travel: does length of travel make a difference?

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Virginia Tech

Intermittent business travel has become an essential part of professional life for many. This exploratory study focused on two types of business-related travel. Short-term travel included frequent trips which lasted a week or less. Long-term travel included trips which lasted a minimum of three weeks at a time. Twenty couples, in which the husband was the business traveler, completed questionnaires and were interviewed individually.

The Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales-FACES III (Olson, Portner, & Lavee, 1985) was used to measure couple functioning. No significant differences on either adaptability or cohesion were found between the two groups of business travel couples. The couples in this study reported a significantly higher level of adaptability when the mean score on the adaptability scale of each of these two groups was compared with the mean score of the sample upon which FACES III was normed (p <.0001).

Significant group differences were reported on the ways the couples dealt with the eminent departure of the husband, the couples’ adjustment when the husbands returned, the stress resulting from travel reported by the husbands, and the amount of contact the couples had while the husbands were away.

Methods of coping used by husbands and wives and support systems used by the wives were also explored. Implications of the findings and suggestions for further research are included.