While Melissa Sugden pulls into the driveway and makes her way to the kitchen, her husband, Andy, sits watching television.
It's a situation not that different from that of millions of other married couples, except the Sugdens do not live in the same house. They don't even live in the same state.
Thanks to the crumbling economy and terrible timing, the Sugdens were trapped in the middle of a move and now have to live hundreds of miles apart from each other, putting their lives and their hopes as a family on hold.
"When we got married, I thought we'd have all this time together," Andy Sugden said. "Today, I was missing her, man. Today, I was missing her."
Their dilemma started in 2007 when the couple was living near Minneapolis. Then, Andy Sugden, a news cameraman, took a job in Grand Rapids, Mich., where his wife's family lives. The Sugdens thought the move would lead them to the next phase of their lives.
"We felt like we can have kids now, because we'll have help," he said. "We haven't talked about that in two years."
The plan was that he would move first, and she would stay behind to sell the house.
"I thought I'll be there by Thanksgiving, no big deal," Melissa Sugden said. "Then Thanksgiving came and Christmas and Fourth of July and another Thanksgiving and here I am ... and there he is."
The Sugdens did not get any offers on their house, and Melissa Sugden has not been able to find a new job that would let her join Andy in Michigan, a state with 13 percent unemployment.
"I still need my income," she explained. "I can't just move there and not have a job. We still have a mortgage to pay."
The couple said it's the little things they miss the most, like walking their dogs together. They try to see each other every six weeks. Parting, they said, is always difficult.
"You've been together for a week and everything's great," she said. "They open the doors to that plane and you have to go one way and he has to go another."
Holding Out Hope
The Sugdens aren't sure where to go from here. He's talking about moving back to Minnesota without a job. What they are sure of, Andy Sugden said, is that things will be set back right.
"There's going to be a time when I come home every day and come through that door and she'll be there," he said. "They'll be a time."
From hundreds of miles away, his wife shares the unwavering dedication.
"No matter how hard the situation is and how hard life is, he is still my partner, and I still rely on him and he still relies on me," she said. "We just make sure the love is never lost, even though we are not together."