For those of you that know me and my husband, you’ve heard about our 4.5 year ordeal of living through a long-distance relationship. It was long, difficult, and thankfully way into our past. These last two months (however) we had to revisit the distance due to a large cross-country move. (thankfully that’s OVER TOO!) This short stint in the long distance territory made me remember what we went through as a couple, and I thought it might be helpful for someone out there going through the same thing!
In today’s world of marriage and work and life, couples are at many times forced to be separated for periods of time due to work, school, etc. People are pursuing more school, it’s not always easy to find work in the city that you reside, etc. etc. It’s not always easy, but I feel like it’s more commonplace to hear about it.
Before the hubby and I were married, we were both pursuing graduate school, which ultimately led to a FOUR AND A HALF YEAR long LDR. (I don’t know why, but I always referred to ours long distance relationship as the ‘LDR’ for short. It just made it easier to refer to when we had to have serious discussions…. I don’t know, I’m just dorky like that… ) In the beginning, however, it was very daunting. Before the point of separation, we had already been together for about three years, and since we were in college at the time, we literally spent every waking moment together (except for when we were in class).
I still remember (mind you, this was back in 2011), of coming up with a plan. An LDR PLAN. We sat down and brainstormed ways to keep in touch, ways to keep the relationship going. Ideas for ‘date nights’ or random ways to show we cared about each other, these were just a few of the things we detailed in this list that would magically make everything easier, because, at the end, everything is easier with a list. (spoiler, it’s not)
***Before I divulge anything regarding our plan, I would like to share that this is what worked for us. Every couple is different and every relationship has different needs. You have to adapt to what fits you and your partner’s personality. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t feel forced, and it shouldn’t feel like either of you are having to make sacrifices. This series will be broken down into two parts. Today’s post will focus on getting started, and how you should approach your LDR. The latter posts will dive into issues such as boundaries, honesty, etc.
1. COMMUNICATION. The basis of our plan and, I think of any LDR, should be communication. It was important to us that we maintained a level of communication similar to what we did when we were together. We texted and called each other throughout the day, and of course video chatted whenever we could. We always spoke before going to bed every night, and even face-timed during meals.
Since we were both still in school, we’d leave the video chat on while we went about studying, prepping meals, etc. (When I tell people about this, they think it’s crazy…. I understand, that it’s a LOT of time- commitment, but while we tried to do this as often as we could, it’s not something you have to do every day, etc.)
“The key to this finding your own rhythm. If sharing meals is important to you and your beau, then do it, even if it’s awkward to do it in front of a camera.”
2.VISITS. Since we were both on grad student budgets, we could really only afford plane tickets every few months. The longest we’d go without seeing other was probably 3-4 months. It helped in our case that both of our families lived in the same city, so visiting for the holidays meant we could see each other. Of course, it was exciting when both of us moved to cities outside of our home state of Texas, visits entailed a level of excitement in exploring new places together.
After a good bit of experience, we realized that our limit was 2 months. At that point, we’d start getting impatient with each other or frustrated over little things. We identified these situations as our tipping point, and that we really just needed to see each other.
The nice thing about planning visits or trips together, was that it always gave you something to look forward to. It almost felt like it shortened the time in between, and ultimately made the time apart more bearable. There is absolutely nothing like the anticipation of your partner coming to see you after two long and difficult months.
*Word of advice, if you are on a strict budget for plane tickets, use those airline point programs to your advantage!!
3. Random Acts of Love. This is something that is so small and yet so meaningful. I’m taking about sending an unexpected letter, sending a little gift, or perhaps going out of your way to do something for your partner. These little acts are even more meaningful when there’s so much physical distance between the two of you. It’s easier to think about someone when they’re right in front of you versus thousands of miles away.
I would strongly recommend everyone to read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I’m sure you’ve all heard of this book, it’s been around forEVER! Basically, it speaks to the fact that every individual has their own way of wanting to receive love. Usually the method they use to show love corresponds to the way they want to receive it. More likely than not, your partner’s way of showing love may not be the same as the way you want to receive it! Also, it’s difficult to box your partner into just one love language. There’s also a corresponding website where you can take the quiz to help you and your partner determine what your love language is (It’s the same quiz as the one that’s in the back of the book).
“I think it’s important to realize that even though we love someone, they may not want to be loved in the exact same way that we want to be loved and that if you cherish your partner and their happiness, that you will at least try to understand what makes your partner feel loved.”
Some suggestions are:
- Writing a letter/card
- Sending little gifts- some of our favorites were
- Sending a song on ITunes to each other,
- Planning something special (dinner, baseball game, etc.) for the next upcoming visit
- Sending an actual gift (jewelry, etc.)
- Just reminding each other how much they mean to you! (this can be as simple as a text or an email)
We live in a time where sharing our emotions is not done enough. Sharing how you feel, whether it is tired, stressed, happy, or afraid is INTEGRAL. Your partner needs to know what’s going on in your mind and your heart. Don’t be afraid to BE VULNERABLE.
Figuring out what these are entails you listening to your partner and understanding them! My hubby loves baseball, so when he first visited me in St. Louis, I bought tickets to a Cardinals game with shirts, etc. Do what you and your partner love!
And that’s the end to Part 1! Next week we’ll talk about issues that come up during LDR’s. Let’s be honest, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
Jumpsuit- Tie Back Jumpsuit- Who What Wear/ Target
Shoes- Dolce Vita Porcia Wedge Sandal – DSW