This post has been updated with my actual experiences after being in a long distance marriage for over a year now.
*disclaimer* I am not a professional relationship counsellor. Listed below are some simple things you can do to help keep your bond strong, recommended by people who are actually in long distance relationships -they are not long distance relationship rules. This list is in no way complete.
I’m in a long distance marriage:
My husband Blake got a fantastic job that he couldn’t turn down. His new job ticked off all the boxes in terms of money, career goals and field of work.
Every box except for one— location!
His new job is located in Switzerland, more than 10 hours by train from where we live in France making it impossible for him to commute back and forth on a daily basis and too expensive to come home every weekend so he comes home every four to six weeks for a week at a time. A round trip train ticket costs roughly 450 euros (525 USD) so he comes home every four to six weeks.
We may eventually move to Switzerland or move to a French border town like Strausburg however uprooting the entire family including a grumpy cat is out of the question at the moment. We want to keep things stable for the kids and we want to see how the job goes first before we make such a big decision.
5 Things you can do to keep your long distance relationship and bond strong
A long-distance relationship is unconventional, complicated and messy but it can work. People do it all the time. It just takes more effort. Here are a few ideas for you.
1-Send care packages, letters and thoughtful gifts every once in a while:
How do you show someone you care or make them feel special?
When the person you love is right there with you day in and day out, you have so many opportunities and so many ways you can do this.
In a long-distance relationship, the simple act of making someone feel loved gets tricky.
You can’t cook their favourite meal, lovingly stroke or hold their hand, give them a back rub, go out on a spur of the moment date or any of those other things you used to be able to do any time you wanted.
So what do you do?
One thing you can do is send a care package to show your partner he or she is missed. It’s a simple gesture that doesn’t take a lot of time but is extremely thoughtful.
But don’t take my word for it. Just ask the spouses of military personnel stationed overseas who receive care packages from their loved ones to lift their morale. If it works for them it might work for your long distance relationship too.
Here are a few Ideas for care packages.
- Movie night care package filled with popcorn, candy, and maybe a DVD.
- A coffee care package filled with their favourite coffee, biscotti, chocolates and cookies.
- Send a wedding anniversary care package.
- Valentines care package
- A bubble bath care package – why not?
- Love letter care package: Write a series of letters then send them all at once.
- A collection of books.
2- Use technology to communicate regularly- daily even?:
We all know communication is the key to a healthy and open relationship but putting distance between two people makes communication kind of hard.
You have to work twice as hard to keep the communication going.
So how, when and how often should you talk?
There are a lot of different opinions out there on just how often couples in a long distance relationship should talk.
Some experts believe you should try to talk every day if possible, texting and talking several times a day. Others believe daily is too often.
I personally don’t think there is one hard and fast rule. It really depends on your situation: your relationship, time difference, priorities, work schedule, if you have children etc.
However often you decide to talk to one another, thanks to the internet and communication apps like Skype, messenger and Facetime, the ease with which we can talk, chat and speak face to face on our phones and our computers can make the distance and gap feel a little narrower.
So take advantage of it and make sure to download and set up accounts on the devices you plan on using to communicate with.
We personally use messenger to talk to one another throughout the day. It allows us to video chat, send photos, text and send silly animated gifs. It also doesn’t cost us any roaming fees.
3-Manage your expectations- Don’t make assumptions about how things will work:
Don’t assume that you’re both automatically going to agree on how things will work in your long distance relationship.
- You might think to talk once a day is perfect but he might think it’s too much.
- She might want you to come home more often but you think it’s too expensive and only want to come home every few months.
You’re not a mind reader and neither is your significant other. Communicate early and often about what you expect your long distance relationship to look like to avoid hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
4-Schedule Regular visits and use your time wisely
In a long distance relationship, time physically spent together is a commodity. Things like money, distance and schedules are just a few of the barriers that can make regular visits difficult.
So when you can be in the same place at the same time, use your time wisely.
What will you do? How long will he or she stay?
Try to plan your visits in a way that makes the best use of your time together. If you think about it, being in a long distance relationship can be a lot like dating. It doesn’t sound so horrible if you think about it like that does it? Kind of romantic if you ask me.
5-Set an end date.
Anyone can go solo for a period of time but knowing there is an end date can give you some piece of mind. If you’re not sure about an end date, schedule a time in the future where you can both revisit and reevaluate your long distance relationship situation.
Does it make sense to continue living apart? Should one of you move, if so who? Should certain aspects of the current arrangement change? etc. etc.
Whatever your situation, long distance relationships can work. People do it all the time but you need to make a conscious effort and work together to make it work.
Good luck, not that you need it.
Relationships take work and long distance relationships are no different. You have to do what works for you.