Maintaining a long distance relationship in today’s time is comparatively easier. With the advent of a plethora of social media apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facetime, and Skype, keeping in contact with your partner has become uncomplicated. Having said that, these apps still don’t make up for the lack of physical presence. Distance can do strange things to a couple and it is not for the fearful.
A couple usually decides to go long distance due to various circumstantial issues like military deployment, job requirement, or extensive traveling. Or maybe they even fell in love at a distance and have yet to move to the same city.
Living apart in a marriage requires considerable amount of discipline. Loneliness experienced by a spouse is a force to be reckoned with, and it is highly important to save a relationship from falling apart like a house of cards under this state of affairs. Online counseling, seeking help from loved ones, and doing small trust building exercises may improve the situation dramatically. Even if it is temporary, a long distance marriage can prove to be exhausting. We work A LOT with couples who are living apart and have compiled a list of pointers that may help long distance couples survive the difficult separation and come out of it even stronger than before.
Tone down your expectations
You need to understand that yours is not a traditional relationship, so the same rules don’t apply here. Don’t worry about the fact that your relationship milestones are not same as your parents, or even your friends and it is okay if it doesn’t fit into any mold. Your ‘normal’ differs from everyone else’s and it is completely alright.
Remember that you are lucky to be connected to someone who chose you over all the people they meet every day, and they are willing to put in effort for a difficult relationship than fall for an easy one.
Play according to the rules
There is no way of enforcing concrete rules when a couple is living apart. It is understandable that different social situations call for different judgment calls, so lay down a few specific ground rules like, always wearing the wedding ring when going out and socializing. Get into the details of a matter, so that there is no confusion pertaining to it. Don’t let communication barriers to form between you two, and if you are ever faced with a situation where you are not sure how your spouse will feel about it, just talk to them about it. If your spouse is on a military deployment, then regular communication will naturally be out of the question. In this case, remain patient and steadfast to your commitment. After all, deployments are temporary.
Stay in Touch
This sounds like the obvious thing to do, but most couples find it hard to stay in touch when work load piles on. You might be talking regularly on Skype initially, but with the passage of time, the calls become infrequent. Your brain may give you a number of potentially worrisome reasons for that, but usually it’s just the fact that your spouse was too tired. Don’t let lack of communication to form a wall in your marriage, and even during most tiresome times, don’t forget to inform your spouse of your whereabouts. Make a regular schedule to connect – daily good morning texts, Tuesday Skype date night, etc. And it doesn’t have to be in depth – sometimes it helps just to know what the weather is like where your partner is living.
You don’t need to be reminded time and again that you are married. Never allow cordial relationship with someone to turn into an emotional affair. Naturally, temptations are greater with no spouse at home and affairs are far easier to pull off when you both are not living under the same roof. This doesn’t mean that it will not have any effect on your marriage and you can potentially lose everything over an affair. Not everyone is immune to temptation, so what you can do is to avoid it, fight it, and honor the vows you took with your spouse. Living separately will never work if you find it hard to remain faithful.
Be ready to face the jealousy when you know that your spouse is out partying on the weekend and you are not there, and be honest about it.
There are going to be a number of things that you will not be a part of. Talk to your spouse about how you feel and mutually decide on a solution. Maybe you can travel when there is some major event coming up, or maybe they can make similar arrangements if a situation calls for it. Don’t completely remove your spouse from the loop, and keep them present in your conversations. This will keep you motivated and give a signal of commitment to your colleagues too. Also – don’t “get up in your head”. You don’t know what you don’t know – so try to not make assumptions or live out possible scenarios in your head. Stay grounded!
If you decide to seek counseling, don’t think that you have failed. It is a symbol of you striving to save your marriage. Counseling can positively impact your relationship; because a trained professional can give you a better insight of the hows and whys of your marriage. They have worked with numerous couples like you, and have a deep understanding of all the details. Online counseling via Skype is ideal for couples going the distance because it is easy to access for both spouses.
Don’t opt for a long distance marriage if you or your spouse is afraid to be alone. If you find it difficult to trust your partner, or you have never been without a close physical relationship, then it is advisable to find a solution to your problem where you both are together.
In most cases, living apart is possible. It can even improve your relationship and give you an opportunity to appreciate your spouse more when they are with you. Communicate honestly, frequently, and directly and don’t take your partner’s efforts for granted. They say borders and oceans are not an obstacle for the heart, and this is all the more convincing when you see your spouse after a long time and know that all the difficulties you went through for them were worth it.