Today’s article is a guest post from my Digital Content Manager, Caroline Niziol. Caroline has been on my team since 2014 and works primarily on blogs, social media, and lots of other projects. I hope everyone involved in long-distance relationships finds her article encouraging. These points are great to keep in mind whether or not you’re currently doing the 30-Day Kindness Challenge for your spouse!
My husband and I have been together for nearly seven years and married for the past five. He worked a traveling job during our entire relationship until a couple of months ago. Except for occasional times at home, he traveled from Monday-Friday out of town and came home only on the weekends. We didn’t face the stress or hardship of a military deployment or other work situations where a spouse is out of town for months at a time. Still, keeping our relationship strong and healthy was challenging — especially since we have three small children (yes, despite the travel, we did have babies in 2013, 2015, and 2016!)
Shaunti has received several questions from readers related to long-distance relationships (LDRs). Given my firsthand experience, I decided to take a stab at writing up a few points to help. I didn’t want to rely only on my own experiences, so I talked to several friends involved now or before in LDRs, across the spectrum of dating, engagement, and marriage. (Names have been changed for privacy). Here are four tips to keep the love alive when you’re apart:
1. Communicate frequently. Many couples find it helpful to text their significant other throughout the day. Some people prefer to schedule phone dates instead of texting. It’s key to connect throughout the day, while being considerate when your spouse is busy working (and vice versa). Always say goodnight to each other, even if one of you will still be awake for a few more hours after the call.
FaceTime or Skype can be wonderful for some people, especially for your kids to see the spouse who is away. Resist the urge pressure your spouse if they don’t really want to video chat when they’re tired or have had a long day. Also, consider sending old-fashioned letters or postcards, either spontaneously or on a regular basis. They make great keepsakes and are fun to send and receive. I treasure the postcards my husband has sent me over the years!
2. Set reasonable expectations. Discuss with your partner what works and doesn’t work for you, at a time when you can have a good conversation together (whether in person or apart). As my friend Sarah shared, “When you’re in a LDR, you can’t be subtle when you’re upset or need something from your partner. You have to be direct, specific, and open because you don’t have the luxury of reading each other’s body language and tone. It has actually made us stronger and better communicators when we’re together too because we don’t beat around the bush.” I couldn’t say it better than that! She nailed it.
3. Find ways to feel emotionally close, even when physically separated. Since you don’t enjoy the usual couple downtime on weekends or in the mornings or evenings, discover the ways you can encourage closeness even when you’re apart. Watch the same movie or a football game together and text or talk to each other while you watch. My husband and I liked to share articles during the day and discuss them over email.
Get to know to know your spouse’s work schedule, environment, and their usual haunts when possible. If you’re traveling on the road, share photos of what your hotel room looks like, or film a video of your usual commute. That helps the other half imagine what you’re up to with more visual detail.
4. Focus on what’s most important. Trust your spouse. Believe the best, even on days when you are grumpy, disconnected, or just out of sorts. Don’t look to your spouse to provide all your needs, especially when you’re feeling on the edge from anxiety or other emotional challenges. Make sure to enjoy your life outside your romantic relationship. Cultivate other friendships and hobbies. And realize, that in most situations, your time apart does have an end date, and you will be back together soon.