London, Feb 2: Sharing your life with someone used to mean sharing a home, but now as many as one in 20 couples choose to live apart, a new study has revealed.
According to Sarah Essig, it may just be the secret of a happy union.
This year she and husband Tom will celebrate their second wedding anniversary and both say they have never been happier.
But Sarah and Tom don't just live in separate homes. They live in separate countries. Tom lives 3677 miles from Sarah's Dorset home in Virginia, USA, the Daily Mail reported.
The happy couple have not ruled out living together in the future, but have no immediate plans to do so.
53-year-old Sarah said that it's unconventional but it works for them and they are incredibly happy.
She said that they love each other deeply and are married and plan to spend the rest of their lives as a couple. Living in separate countries doesn't make the relationship any less important, but in fact it has benefits, she said.
"People can me quick to make assumptions about my marriage because my husband and I chose to live in separate counties, but I want people to know it can work," she added.
According to research the number of men and women living apart as couples has increased by 40 percent in the last decade. It is estimated that one million couples now keep a separate property.
But for Sarah, it wasn't a lifestyle choice to live apart from the man she loves, more a matter of practicalities.
The couple met on cruise in 2008 shortly after Sarah's marriage had ended.
Mother-of-two Sarah was holidaying with a friend while American widow Tom, now 59, was on aboard with his daughter when they got chatting at dinner.
She certainly was not looking for a relationship and neither was Tom. She had been through a divorce and he had recently lost his wife of 24 years to cancer.
The more they talked, the more they connected and ended up spending the whole holiday together talking.
They really understood each other and knew before the cruise ended that somehow or other they would remain in each others lives.
Both of them having children that needed them in different countries - meant living together was not an option so they went into it with their eyes open.
After meeting again the couple spoke constantly on skype - which Sarah describes as a "best friend" for couples living or working in separate countries.
In the months that followed they planned more trips to see each other.
Sarah's family situation made it impossible for her to consider moving to the USA with Tom.
Her marriage ended after ten years and her children now aged 12 and 16 remained in the home with their father while Sarah moved into a place nearby so she could still see them everyday.
She didn't want to be selfish and cause any more disruption by insisting they leave their home to move into a new house with her.
Similarly, Tom, a former Homelands security officer who now works as a security consultant, also felt he could not leave his two children.
Though older, they found it hard to cope with their mother's death from cancer and Tom wanted to remain close to support them through college.
But that didn't stop the couple getting married on July 11 2011.
Their honeymoon was their eighth cruise together after which they returned home alone.
Sarah took redundancy from her job as a graphic designer to be free to visit Tom more often.
The couple say that they make their marriage work by spending at least half an hour a day "together" talking on their webcams. (ANI)