Long-distance marriage and the socioeconomic well-being of families among couples in Gulu City
This study focused on long distance marriage and its effects on the socioeconomic wellbeing of families among working couples in Gulu City. It was guided by four main objectives which include; to establish the factors underlying long-distance marriages, to explore the effects of long-distance marriages on the economic wellbeing of families in relation to income, expenditure and household basic necessities, to find out the effects of long-distance marriage on the social wellbeing of families and to assess employer policies relevant to family unity and separation. Long-distance marriage was defined as a marriage where the spouses live in separate geographical locations for short or long durations. A descriptive design was adopted for this study and it employed a qualitative research design. Data was collected using semi structured interviews through in-depth interviews with 18 participants from families and 1 key informant from Gulu City council. The target population comprised of majorly married men and women, formally employed working people in institutions, who live separate due to work duties. The study findings indicate that the most common cause of long-distance marriage among couples is work. Due to employments and transfers, most individuals in the workforce have no choice but to comply to work duties which therefore leads most of them into long distances marriages. Other drivers include career advancement, financial crisis, work related trainings, lack of accommodation and unique skills possessed by individuals. The findings also reveal that LDM can contribute to both positive and negative effects with the positives including; improved standards of living, high education levels and shared responsibilities among spouses, and negatives; single parenthood, lack of communication among spouses and indiscipline among children due to being raised by one parent. While at work places most organisations are guided by policies such as the Uganda public standing orders to offer leave to workers, giving them an opportunity to unite with their families. Other policies include providing liberty for workers to apply for retransfers whenever they are transferred to areas that may lead them to experience LDM. The study recommends employers to get to understand the demands and obligations of marital relationships so as to provide needed work policies and practices such as granting them leave and accommodation. It also recommends the government to come up with a policy that ensure spouses are transferred in the same geographical region so as to minimize effects brought about by long distance marriage.