Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts
With a global increase in mobility for career advancement, the percentage of married couples who do not share a primary residence, or frequently spend periods of time apart for professional commitments has also increased sharply, leading to more commuter and long-distance marriages. For women, this means an alternative to the “trailing spouse” lifestyle, but also comes with a variety of challenges to marriage and family life. This study seeks to understand how Indian women in such marital arrangements have used technology to enhance communication with their husbands while apart, and to explore whether advancements in communication technology have affected the nature of the communication itself. As technology has changed, evolved, and advanced over the last fifteen or so years, so has the quality of conversation that it permits and creates. This is evident even in the major differences between the abilities of the basic cell phone of the early 2000s and the smartphones of today, the costs of using them, and the access to such devices. Through semi-structured interviews with seven women, themes such as content of conversation, factors affecting technology preferences, and the impact of social, cultural, and economic conditions on geographically distanced marriages are explored in detail. Contrasts between communication technologies over the last two decades, as well as the manner in which these changes altered the women’s understandings of independence and interdependence in their marriage have been highlighted. Finally, the relevance of these findings for market research, marriage studies, and relationship counselling is discussed.
Keywords: commuter marriage, long-distance marriage, communication technology, marital communication, exploratory study, contemporary India, parallel communication