People probably think I am insane for choosing to be in a long-distance marriage, but in dual-career households the idea of not having some distance at some point in time is inevitable. And just like any relationship, long-distance types take time and effort to nurture and grow but they take a great deal of flexibility and sacrifice that conventional relationships may not. The truth is no distance could have stopped me from marrying my husband. He was exactly what I prayed for and more and from the beginning I knew he was sent by God. When we first started out, he lived in Japan while I was in Michigan completing graduate school. I should mention that not only did I fall in love with someone on a different continent but with someone who is also in the military. hahahaha. These days, I live in Washington DC while he lives in San Diego, CA. For each couple the circumstances of “distance” is different and how we choose to maintain our relationship depends solely on our willingness to COMPROMISE. I encourage couples to not let”distance” prevent them from marriage or create stipulations that prevent their relationship from evolving naturally and organically as I know not everyone wants to be married. First and foremost I am not in any way shape or form a relationship expert but I can tell you the things that have worked and not-so worked for my marriage from the beginning until now.
Don’t Hold On To Anger..Move On
One of the things I admire most about my husband is his ability to let s*%@ go, something I still struggle with to this day. But one thing we both have in common is that we do not let battles prevent us from enjoying each other or the time we share together. It doesn’t mean we don’t eventually resolve the issue or that we sweep things under the rug, it just means we don’t let things destroy our happiness or the love we have for each other. In LDR’s this is very important. With limited time together, it’s not in your best interest to spend time constantly arguing over the same issue or letting anger and pain from a previous encounter prevent you from enjoying your partner. You need to learn how to move on or be joyous in spite of the obstacle you’re facing. We don’t have the luxury to not speak to each other because of an argument because all we have are text messages and phone calls. In the same phone conversation, Ill go from you really pissed me off to I mailed you an entire box of cookies because I love you. lol
Always Be Open & Honest
You need to be truthful about things that are or are not working for you. That doesn’t always apply to negative situations. Texting your partner throughout the day just to say “I appreciate you” or “I am grateful for you” lets the person know that they are wanted and loved which is something you cant do physically from day to day. Celebrating their special moments from afar is also important whether it’s sending a congratulatory gift or a box of their favorite cookies. LDR’s require active engagement which means sometimes you have to go above and beyond to express both positive and negative feelings. You also have to be truthful about external pressures that are affecting your mood. In relationships, we sometimes don’t want to rock the boat but in LDR’s you have to be comfortable doing a little rocking. If you need that person to text/call you more then you should speak up or if you want to change when/where/how often you visit each other you should also speak up.
Constant Communication Is Key
Communication is important for any relationship. Whether it’s communicating your feelings or texting throughout the day, it gives us an opportunity to check in with our partner. In long distance relationships especially those where you don’t see the person as often, communication is even more important. Since you don’t get the daily physical interaction of traditional types skipping out on FaceTime and Phone calls is not an option. Even though the person isn’t there physically it’s still important that you share your individual journeys with them. It’s as simple as talking about your day or sending pictures of new restaurants or dishes you’ve tried or discussing books, movies, music, and/or recent news. You need to exist as if there is no distance between you. When my husband was in Japan there was a 13 hour time difference between us which meant when I was leaving work he was just waking up or when I was preparing for bed he was taking a lunch break. Because of this we had an unofficial schedule of when we phoned each other and during certain times if we missed our window to talk we may not speak for another 12/13 hours, but we always made sure to text or check-in if the day was busy. And trust me I know it can be frustrating when you cannot talk to your partner or get their opinion/advice on a particular topic. Long distance relationships are not easy or always fair…which brings me to my next point..
LDR’s Are Not Always Fair
I quickly realized this soon after my husband moved back to the United States. Since he is in the military he cannot freely travel from place to place especially in his current position. Therefore, it requires me to make the 5-6 hour journey from DC to San Diego for a quick but expensive weekend trip. In these situations you have to face the facts. I could complain about “how it is not fair” or I can accept that this is the reality for now and that it’s not permanent. I think some times we enter relationships with the impression that things will be 50/50 but in LDR’s I think it is important to let that idea go and learn to plan for the “now” or make the best of the situation.
Visit As Much As Possible
As much as I have preached about things to do when you’re not together…you need to find every way possible to actually “be” together….when you can. Nothing is better than physically being able to express your love and gratitude or just doing simple things as a couple such as grocery shopping or watching a movie on Netflix. This can be hard to do when you each have a million things going on that are pulling you in a billion different directions. However, this is where sacrifice comes into play and you have to step back and re-evaluate what’s more important. If you follow me on social media, I am sure you know that I travel for both work and pleasure but I always find a way to see my husband even if it is only for a few days…every minute counts. And trust me this is even harder when one person is abroad and you can only see that person once/twice a year which is why the other things I have discussed are very important.
Get A Marriage Devotional To Stay Connected
During Thanksgiving break my cousin/brother brought to my attention a marriage devotional by Tony Evans called Kingdom Marriage (his daughter is in the movie War Room). A link to the book can be found here (it’s only $10). When the new year began my husband and I started Kingdom Marriage and we both love it. I should note that I am religious and this is a Christian based devotional. For us it brings into perspective the role that God plays in our marriage and his plans for us as a married couple. It also forces us to discuss topics that may be uncomfortable and learn more about ourselves and relationship through the eyes of God. Since we can not go to church together, the devotional allows us to also grow closer to God and our faith as a couple. However, I do understand that not everyone is the same religion as me or religious at all but I think any type of devotional or method to discuss your marriage such as therapy or counseling is important. For couples in LDR’s the latter may be more difficult which is why the devotional works for me. Here is a link to a non-religious devotional called “The One Year Love Language Minute Devotional”.
Keep It Sexy and Fun
My parents and my nineteen year old niece read my blog so I will not go in to much detail on this one, but I think the title gets the point across ;-). I will say that it is important to find creative ways to be intimate.
As I said earlier, I am not a relationship expert but I have learned a thing or two in my marriage. LDR’s are tough, but I think they teach us many valuable lessons on tenacity and perseverance. I have learned how to appreciate every moment whether big or small. Regardless of distance, I am blessed to have someone that I get to share life with which in my opinion trumps any obstacle or challenge we may face.
From Aeriel, With Love