Saturday, 20 December 2008

Dubai: When distance makes the heart grow fonder

'Living apart together' seems to be the new marriage mantra for many couples in Dubai. The arrangement of living separately during the week and catching up on weekends, many say, is working well for their marriage.

While it is a painful compulsion dictated by financial reasons for some, for many others, compressing their married life into weekends is part of striking the right balance between professional ambition and personal commitment.

European couple, Eugene and Tony, who preferred not to give their second names, said it was a joint decision to remain a 'weekend couple'. Eugene works for a legal firm in Dubai while Tony is in the airline industry based in Abu Dhabi. When Eugene got a job offer from Dubai, the couple decided they could live separately for five days a week. And at the weekends, Tony drives down to Dubai.

"I was keen to take up the offer from the firm in Dubai. Both of us decided that for the time being we would compromise on the 'coming back to the same house' comfort," said Eugene, 31. She said although it was stressful at first they are now fine with the arrangement and happy that they make the most of their time together"

Reflecting similar sentiments, Tony, 28, said separation had actually brought him closer to his partner and every Thursday he looked forward to being with Eugene.

Filipino couple Faith and Johnson live apart because Johnson could not find a job in Dubai.

"He was in Korea and my three-year-old son was in the Philippines with our parents. After he quit his job and came down to Dubai, he could not find a job. So we had no option but to take up the offer he got which was based in the UAE-Oman border," said Faith, who works as an estimation engineer.

Faith lives in shared accommodation in Dubai, and Johnson comes down on weekends. "I won't complain because now I can at least see him during the weekends," said Faith, who is pregnant with her second child. She is of the opinion that separation enhances their time together.

"We still feel like newly-weds. We are always on the phone or texting each other. I think, as they say, distance is only bringing us closer."

For M.S. Kurian and his wife Elizabeth, the decision to live separately was mutual as both did not want to give up their professional comforts.


The couple have been married for the last 30 years and lived in Dubai but Kurian moved to Abu Dhabi in 2003 when he was promoted.

"It was a tough decision because we were so used to living under the same roof for over 25 years. Frankly, it took me almost a year to come to terms with the fact he would be away all week. Now I have adjusted," said Elizabeth, a mother-of-three, now aged 25, 23 and 17.

Kurian, 58, says, they have decided to continue the arrangement for as long as they are in the UAE.

"Both of us have reached a stage where we understand each other very well, and even if not physically together, we know we are always there for each other.

However, the seasoned couple would not advise the weekend arrangement for young couples.

"I do not think young couples should be doing this. They need to spend a lot of time together during the early years of marriage to build a strong foundation for their relationship. And that comes only by living under one roof," said Elizabeth, 49.

Source: The Gulf News


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