Are you in a long-distance relationship? Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? Do you know someone who is currently in a long-distance relationship? There is no doubt that living in a different city, state, or even country than your sweetheart can be an emotional and logistical struggle. If there are time zone differences, it may be hard to schedule time to talk and connect around each other’s schedules. Going long periods of time without hugs, kisses, and breathing the same air can also be taxing. It’s harder to experience life with someone when you are not physically with them, but if I may be so bold, I would suggest that distance can enhance and strengthen your relationship if you use the distance wisely (and if the relationship is mature and healthy).
Most couples don’t spend the majority of their marriage living in different locations. There are those who travel a lot on business and others in the military who (along with their families) sacrifice being together months at a time in order to serve their countries. Yet, most of the time, couples spend the majority of their marriage in the same house.
Using Your Time Wisely
Here’s my point: Long-distance relationships are tough, but if you’re moving toward marriage, you know that the distance is only for a season. It seems long now, but eventually you and your sweetheart will be together. Since the distance is only for a season, you can choose to use the time away from each other to get to know each other better, to work through any relationship issues that arise, to invest quality time into your friendships and family relationships, and to prepare to be a married man or woman.
Does it seem odd that I would suggest being apart as a way of getting to know each other better? On the surface, it does seem strange to think that people could grow closer while being miles apart, but those who are miles apart do a lot of verbal communication. Some of my best talks with Eric happened when he and I were apart for a few summers throughout college. When I moved back to our college town, we fell into the normal behavior of a twitterpated couple. We were all snuggles and silly gazes for a while, so I’m glad we had all those great discussions while we were apart. Holding a phone is nowhere near as comforting as holding the one you love, but while you wait for the day you can finally be together, enjoy your phone or internet video time. Consider how helpful all of this solid communication is going to be to you both in the future! Talk, talk, talk!!! ~smile~
Eric and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with our long-distance couples. Skype and Google Hangouts are the best things to happen to long-distance relationships since the telephone. From what we’ve observed, there is no difference between the effort long-distance couples put into our coaching sessions and the effort in-town couples put into our sessions. Both long- and short-distance couples have similar relational dynamics which need to be explored, conflicts which need to be resolved, and both need to prepare for the realities of marriage. Because healthy long-distance couples have to communicate in order to keep their relationships moving along, they tend to fully embrace the counseling experience and use the time wisely. After all, they are happily preparing for the very event that will bring them together in unity – marriage!
Avoiding a Common Mistake
A common mistake many couples make is neglecting time with family and friends. One of my biggest regrets from my courtship with Eric is how little time I spent with my family and friends during that period of time. At the time, nothing seemed more important than being near him, but I didn’t take into account that soon I’d be with him all the time and with my family and friends much less often.
Long-distance couples are less likely to neglect time with family and friends because they don’t have to spend every last minute of their day with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Sure, there is some sacred phone and/or internet video time, but your friend who is in a long-distance relationship is probably more likely to be available for a last-minute game night than your friend who is always with his or her honey. Long-distance relationships are not ideal, but they can help couples focus on the other important people in their lives.
Take Time to Prepare
If you’re in a long-distance relationship, take this time to prepare for married life. Counseling is a great first step and there are also tangible ways to prepare. Spend time with older married couples and ask them what it takes to have a wonderful marriage. Learn to cook. Learn some basic plumbing and mechanical skills. Learn to sew (if you’d like). There are classes which teach these skills and if you can’t find a class, chances are you can find a willing person to teach you. Read books… lots of them. Observe quality couples. Redeem the time! ~smile~
Chances are, once you are married, this season of being apart won’t seem as difficult as it does now. In fact, you may look back on it fondly. Use what others would consider a weakness in your relationship and turn it around in your favor!
What are some other ways being long-distance can strengthen your relationship?