This post is contributed by Michelle, an Engaged Home contributor. I know many dating and married couples who are striving to keep their relationships strong despite the distance, and, sadly, I have witnessed many long distance couples fall apart. Due to this, I thought this was an important post to share. For the record, Mitch and I have not done the long distance gig since we were dating, and then it was only during the summers. Enjoy! (Approved and edited by Nathana)
Keeping any marriage or relationship strong through all the changes of life is a challenge. When a couple adds distance, it is even more difficult. Some couples choose the long distance lifestyle temporarily to meet personal or professional goals. Or they resort to it out of utter financial necessity or a family emergency, like caring for an ailing parent. Others know it is a part of their chosen profession–for example those in the military or a traveling speaker or salesman.
Regardless of reason, most couples find it far from ideal. Distance puts a strain on important parts of a relationship like communication and physical connection. But when a couple is intentional about making the most of the experience, they can not only stay strong, but sometimes grow closer.
Keep Your Faith Strong–in God and One Another
A foundation of faith is key. Faith in God brings couples together in prayer or time in God’s word together. Whether over the phone or Facetime/Skype, there is no excuse for slacking in this area. Making faith and your spiritual growth a part of the communication and connection is essential for any couple.
Also, couples need to spend time in prayer to keep their faith in one another strong. There are temptations that come more easily with distance–physical, sexual, emotional loneliness, worry, and the ease of deception. Deception of any kind plants a poison in a relationship that takes time to heal from. But the opportunities for it in a long distance relationship feel amplified.
Get Creative in Your Long Distance Relationship
If you are in a long distance relationship, hang on to the tangible. Display photographs, set backgrounds on your phone of your favorite picture together, spray your favorite cuddle blanket with your loved one’s cologne or perfume, and keep special gifts where you can see them. If they gave you a special necklace or watch, wear it as a reminder. Depending on your relationship and level of creativity, the ideas are endless. What works for you–as long as it is healthy and okay with both of you–will help keep you strong across the miles.
I always think of Angela (on The Office) giving Dwight a bobblehead. Maybe investing in something a bit more ‘out there’ will be effective in making you feel closer to your spouse. Even something as silly as a bobblehead. These can be made in the likeness of your spouse–a great way to keep a sense of humor about the situation! (Check here for custom bobbleheads, all 25% off.)
You could also have a personalized pillowcase created with their face slap bang in the middle of it, so you never have to spend a night without them. Or you could go one step further: in order to cure the restlessness and loneliness of not sharing a bed with your other half, you could invest in Pillow Talk, a pillow that help you feel your long-distance lover’s heartbeat in real time when they wear a ring sensor. The pillow also glows softly when the pillow senses their presence in their bed that is connected to yours.
In this day and age, however, there is no better way to keep in constant contact with your spouse than embracing and using the technology available. You should both create online video chat accounts, which could be on Skype or (if you have an Apple device) FaceTime, so that you can see each other as much as is practical for you both. Embracing video chat services will help you destroy the distance between you in the click of a button. Even if you’re separated by the whole world, this can make you feel as if there’s actually no distance between you at all.
But sometimes incorporating “old school” methods like letter writing in addition to texting can be a romantic touch and something your spouse can tangibly hang on to. Also, send care packages to let them know you are thinking about them and missing them.
Make the Effort to be In Person
Remember that nothing truly replaces being in person. Especially if you have kids. Make as many trips to be together as your schedule and finances allow. (Assuming this is not a distance imposed by a military deployment.) Those times of togetherness will be that much more cherished by the both of you.
Some people you talk to about your long-distance relationship will be convinced that it’s doomed and will not last; you should take heart in the fact that it can be done, and proceed to prove them wrong. And hopefully, it will only be a temporary arrangement.