(FORTUNE Magazine) – Call it a friendly merger. In 1984 Wallace Barnes and Barbara Hackman Franklin were both directors of Aetna Life & Casualty and unattached. Barnes, 63, the CEO of Barnes Group, asked Franklin if she would accompany him to one of those corporate functions where the execs bring their spouses and singles yearn to be someplace else. Franklin, 49, a former member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, accepted. Negotiations continued, and two years later the pair were wed, he for the fourth time, she for the third. Says Aetna CEO James Lynn: ''When they announced that they were going to get married, I told them I deserved a finder's fee.'' Theirs is a commuter marriage. Franklin heads a management consulting firm in Washington, D.C., while Barnes runs the $496-million-in-annual-sales precision parts manufacturer in Bristol, Connecticut -- 300 miles away -- that his great-grandfather founded. The couple manage to see each other three nights a week, sometimes getting together in Hartford for board meetings. Says Barnes: ''We often have different perspectives on the issues that come up.'' Occasionally he fetches his wife in his own twin-engine plane, cutting travel time with a landing strip alongside his house and a hangar in the basement. Says he: ''Not many people meet the way Barbara and I did, but it can work out very well indeed.'' It sure beats the bar scene.