Saturday, March 3, 2012

Long Distance Relationships... Tips for hanging out and hanging on!

When you are in a long distance relationship, whether by choice or by necessity, there are certain obstacles you are forced to overcome. The best way to tackle these bumps in the road is by getting creative and getting personal.

 Whether you are 2 hours apart or 2 days, gone for 6 months or for 6 years, we all reach that point where it suddenly seems much harder now than it did on paper. Even with all the rapidly advancing technology in the world, there are some days when all you need is your better half's hand to hold (and even Apple hasn't figured that one out yet). But what built your relationship up to where it is now? I'm sure that it is made up of many joint experiences, mutual compassion, understanding and insight, friendship and the sharing of every detail of your intertwined lives. Yet I dare say as you stand facing a challenge such as distance, that it's also made up of durability, fortitude, determination and promise. The challenges of growing together whilst remaining apart are huge but valuable.

Image: davidwygant.com

 Focus on communication for example; if you simply can't call 3 times a day to declare your love how can you share it anyway? When your days seem longer than usual and communication is getting more and more scarce, how can your energy still go into that other person? How can you ensure that they are not alone, even when technically, they are?

Here are some simple things that worked well for my now husband and I when I was bound for 5 months in the UK, awaiting my fiance visa approval:

Snail Mail - sharing letters in longhand has at least 2 benefits; they're romantic and can be kept as mementos of your courtship, and they make great evidence for your ongoing visa applications. I know that can seem a little degrading to your long distance struggle but every little bit helps!

Care Packages - we enjoyed shipping over each other's favorite treats from our own countries, just to make each other smile and to remind us what we like so much about each others, ahem, culture... We rarely synced up our dates so each parcel was a pleasant and much appreciated surprise.

Skype - an obvious one for us prepared long distancers, but downloading this program to each person's laptop or handheld device allows you free face time, as much as you like. A staple if you can get it to help you stay personal and regular with your chats.

Church - one of the things my then fiance and I love to do is attend our rockin' church www.faithpromise.org on Sunday mornings together. Thanks to the beauty of the internet our church streams it's weekly worship and message online for anyone to be a part of. We chose a service time; he attended in person whilst I watched online and then we had a phone date afterwards to chat about what we had learnt. This weekly commitment kept us stable, focused on the bigger picture and helped the weekly countdown to move just a little faster in our minds!

Super Positive Countdown Chart! - For 5 months straight the back of my childhood bedroom door was plastered with a GIANT breakdown of things to achieve each week that we were apart, plus things to look forward to in the near future. I even budgeted myself to buying one 'wedding' item each week as a reward for charging through another 7 days! Working out the average time span of each section of the visa process was a useful addition as well, just to give me perspective on how quickly we were actually coming along!

Time crawls when you have anything impressive to look forward to. Moving to the US to get married pretty much halted it altogether for me. Added to that the 4,000 mile distance between me and the only other person on the planet who truly knew what I was feeling, and it became an emotionally trying 5 months at best. But the big picture won out in the end, we faced the gauntlet of uncertainty and insecurity and out reward has been wonderful beyond measure. Use this time apart to connect in ways other couples who have it fairly easy may not. Learn how to say 'I Love You' in hundreds of different ways and hold on to that excitement at the promise of one another.

It's more rare than you think.

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