One of my most favorite people on the planet is celebrating her birthday today, and for the first time, she is more than 200 miles away. We have celebrated our birthdays together for the past twenty-five years, so we are struggling with being apart. Though missing her is not quite the same as being in a romantic long-distance relationship, some of the same principles apply. Because we cannot count on seeing each other several times a year, we have to be more intentional – something we are still working on, but we are getting there. ~smile~
I miss you, Lauran! I hope California treats you as well as you deserve! Happy 30-something Birthday!!!
Being apart is one of the most difficult aspects of loving someone. These days, long-distance relationships are more common than ever before. Even my father-in-law and his wife were in separate states when they met and fell in love. To say it is hard being away from someone you love is an understatement. Some days, the pain is breath-taking, but couples can make it a bit easier and simpler if they work at it.
Here are some ideas to consider if you are cities, states, or even countries away from your precious one.
- Go on dates! Go to the park and FaceTime with each other. Go to the same restaurant chain and eat together. Play a game (like Farkle) over FaceTime or a computer game together. Dating can be fun even oceans apart. One of the positives of long-distance relationships is it forces communication. If physical attraction is all you have in common, a long-distance relationship will die quickly. But, if you have substance between you, a long-distance relationship can be a blessing. Distance requires getting to know each other. If you cannot communicate, there is no relationship!
- Share your schedules with each other. Exchanging schedules is not a means to check up on each other; but, rather a way to feel included in each other’s days. Though it is not necessary to have long conversations every day, if you are in a committed relationship, it is appropriate to keep each other updated on your daily lives. If you are hesitant to share the details of your life with your long-distance partner, ask yourself why. If your significant other is hesitant to share, have a calm discussion and try to find the root of the problem. If he or she does not want you to know much about his or her life, it is probably not the healthiest of relationships.
- Encourage each other to connect with locals. When we are missing our special person, it is tempting to hoard them and feel jealous of time spent with other people; however, one of the most loving phrases we can utter is, “You need people. Go out and be with friends.” Be interested in the stories he or she tells about new (and old) friends and adventures. Loneliness can easily lead to depression and it is depressing enough being away from the one you love. Having local support can be the difference between thriving in a long-distance relationship and crumbling.
- Create privately-shared language. When the distance between you begins to feel normal – not ideal, just normal – it becomes harder to juggle connection and communication with the demands of work, church, family, school, etc. When you are low on time, but still want to connect with each other, pull out a code word only you two understand. It can mean, “I love you,” be an inside joke guaranteed to make the other laugh, or be an acronym which expresses a desire to be together. In certain seasons, time will be limited, but we still must make an effort to stay connected – whether we are physically close by or separated by the miles.
- Work on a shared project or goal. Working towards a common cause makes couples feel emotionally closer even when they are miles apart. Whether it is a fitness goal, a financial goal, a spiritual goal, an educational goal, or a recreational goal, work towards something together. Talk about it often and celebrate milestones!
- Seek your identity in Christ and not in each other. One of the greatest temptations in long-distance relationships is to give in to insecurity. Who is he talking to right now? What is he doing? Is he thinking about me? Are we growing apart? When our hearts become involved in new relationships, we find our identity beginning to shift. One of our defining characteristics becomes I am this amazing person’s significant other. When we place our value and trust in a relationship, we become terrified at the thought of losing it. We may check in too often, voice irrational suspicions, or push the person away before he or she has the chance to push us away. When we find our value in Jesus Christ and put our trust in Him to save and fulfill us, we can relax knowing our future and the future of our relationship is in His hands.
- Use the time apart to grow as individuals. It is okay – even good – to have some different interests whether you live down the street from each other or across the world. If you are interested in learning sign language, learn it! Do not wait for buy-in from your boyfriend or girlfriend, or wait until he or she is excited to do it with you. When you are together in a marriage, your time for personal growth will dwindle, so take the hours which may hang heavy now and use them to become the person you ultimately want to be!
- Keep the postal service hopping! Texts and emails are convenient and wonderful for helping people stay connected, but there is still something special about receiving a letter or package in the mail. It does not have to be expensive. It can be as simple as a hand-written I love you note, but the extra effort and tangible message speaks volumes to the heart.
- Always leave each visit with a plan for the next visit. The hardest part of visiting is saying goodbye – Wondering when you will see each other again can be gut-wrenching, but if you have the next visit planned – even roughly – saying goodbye is not nearly as difficult. It is less like goodbye and more like see you later.
- Do not live apart indefinitely. Once you both believe your relationship is heading toward bigger and better things, do not put off relocating – that said, do not rush it either. Look for work, but do not feel pressured to jump at the first possible gig available. Look into housing options. Discuss the pros and cons of being geographically close. It makes sense to stay apart while the relationship is new and you are getting to know each other, but once marriage is on the table, you should eradicate distance as much as possible. Some people have the personality for an indefinite long-distance marriage, but I have not met one yet. ~smile~
During the summer of our year-long courtship, Eric and I lived in different states. As hard as it felt at the time, I would not trade it because we spent so much time talking and connecting. Had we been together, we would surely have enjoyed a lot of fabulous meals together and perhaps even attended some amazing movies, but would we have experienced the same depth of communication?
For those of you in a true long-distance relationship, one summer seems like nothing. The days can feel lonely and endless, but we encourage you to keep your chin up and keep finding special ways to connect with each other. If this person is a quality individual with whom you can see a bright and God-honoring future, the pain of waiting will be worth the joy of finally being together.
How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard? — A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
Always remember we are under the same sky looking at the same moon. – Original Author Unknown
How else can you simplify your long-distance relationship?
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