There and back again: a longitudinal examination of relationship maintenance strategies of inter-jurisdictional workers and their partners

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University of New Brunswick


Although individuals who reside permanently in one location and work temporarily in another (i.e., inter-jurisdictional workers) represent a sizeable segment of the population (Laporte & Lu, 2013; Morissette & Qiu, 2015), there is limited research on their long-distance romantic relationships. The extant research on inter-jurisdictional workers has focused primarily on individual characteristics of workers and less on the relationship characteristics of inter-jurisdictional workers and their at-home partners. Because inter-jurisdictional workers and their at-home partners represent a unique set of individuals in long-distance relationships, separating and reuniting frequently, it is worthwhile to examine individual and interpersonal characteristics linked with the quality of their relationships when they are both together and separated. The goal of this dissertation was to identify key factors associated with the successful maintenance of romantic relationships between inter-jurisdictional workers and their at-home partners. Participants (N = 289) were inter-jurisdictional workers (n = 129) and at-home partners of inter-jurisdictional workers (n = 160). Participants, predominantly from the United States (n = 287), completed online surveys on individual (i.e., romantic idealization, generosity, gratitude), dyadic (i.e., empathy, commitment, openness, contribution, and humour), and extra-dyadic (i.e., social support from friends and family) relationship maintenance behaviours and relationship characteristics over the course of two working-reunion (roster) phases, for a total of four assessment waves. Multi-level modeling was used to examine the relationship maintenance behaviours as predictors of perceived relationship quality and the extent to which roster phase influenced the association between relationship maintenance and relationship quality. Results indicated that all individual, dyadic, and extra-dyadic relationship maintenance behaviours positively predicted perceived relationship quality among partners and workers. Among partners, generosity positively predicted relationship quality at first reunion and second departure phases. All other individual, dyadic, and extra-dyadic relationship maintenance behaviours predicted relationship quality, regardless of the roster phase. To corroborate key relationship maintenance strategies, participants were invited to respond to an open-ended survey question. Results supported the importance of individual and dyadic relationship maintenance strategies to enhance inter-jurisdictional romantic relationship quality. Overall, results suggest the importance of relationship maintenance education for individuals in inter-jurisdictional romantic relationships.