6 Tips for Navigating Long-Distance Relationships
by Aprille Donaldson
How do you deal with a long-distance relationship, and more specifically, a marriage?
I can honestly say that I have dealt with a long-distance relationship (from dating and engagement, to marriage) the WRONG way in the past. But now I’m trying very hard to deal with it the RIGHT way. So I’m going to give you some tips that I hope will help. This is something that I have shared with MANY people over the last few months, both military and non-military, and they have said it is helpful. I hope it helps you!
1. KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE! This is where I have made the most errors in the past. Although I never would have admitted it to myself, I had the attitude that because I was dealing with separation, I was a queen. I thought everyone needed to cater to my emotional needs. I spent most of my time at home alone in my bedroom (when I wasn’t at work) waiting for my then-boyfriend and fiance to call. I was short-tempered and moody ALL of the time.
b. View this as a positive thing that can and will make your relationship stronger.
c. Remember that if God put you two together, no distance can separate you.
2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SEPARATION. This really is more practical application to apply your positive attitude (see #1). I know it may be hard to think of it this way, but you being separated from your love does give you a measure of “freedom” that you would not have were he there. (Although within reason…DON’T take advantage of the situation to do things that he would not approve of in any way!) For example, you can spend more time with your girlfriends, watch girly movies, spend time with your family, etc. The list really is endless and will depend on you personally. But I often find myself thinking, “Ya know, if my hubby were here, I wouldn’t be able to do this!” I used to feel guilty for thinking stuff like that, but I realized that it was okay (even silly things like eating at restaurants he doesn’t like)! Look for the good in the situation!! You’ll be surprised at how much you can find.
3. USE ANY AND EVERY METHOD OF COMMUNICATION AVAILABLE TO YOU TO “STAY IN TOUCH.” Really, nowadays we have no grounds to complain about long-distance relationships compared to even 10 or 15 years ago, because we have so much technology at our hands. Some of these may be obvious but I’ll try to give you some ideas!
b. Email: Kind of self-explanatory!
c. Phone calls: Obviously this can come with restrictions, such as nasty things like time differences, phone minutes, phone connections, etc. I find phone communication to be pretty much the best way to communicate with my hubby, but unfortunately, its just not always possible. Keep in mind though, that even though this may be limited from time to time, take advantage of even short phonecalls, the quick “I love yous” and even hearing each other’s voices can help so much!
d. Instant messenger (one of my favorites!): This opens up a new world of options. If you both have Yahoo IM (YIM) you can call each other PC to PC for free! You also have capabilities for webcams, playing games with each other…the list could go on and on. I LOVE YIM!
e. Text messaging: This helps for communication “on-the-go.” Combine that with YIM (by using their heaven-sent mobile feature)! If you are away from your computer, instant messages can be sent right to your phone. (This is GREAT for us with the time zone issues, so I don’ have to sleep next to my computer! Also, if my hubby gets online when I’m out, whether its shopping, at church, or at work, I don’t have to worry about “missing him” because we can still chat back and forth from PC to phone. AWESOME!!!) Texting also can open up a world to picture messaging. Just shoot, save, and send, and he can have a picture of you! (or of the cute teddy bear with a heart that you saw at walmart, or “honey do you like this shirt?!!?”)
You will find out what works for you and your man. I’ve used a combination of everything!!! (Oh and I forgot to add care packages…those are always fun)!
4. STAY BUSY AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO KEEP YOURSELF HAPPY AND GET THROUGH IT! Honestly, being apart from someone is incredibly hard. But you will make it harder on yourself if you mope and act like you can’t be happy unless he is with you.
I was so incredibly busy during our 11-month deployment that I honestly didn’t have THAT much time to mope. I worked full-time, was involved in my church, had 5 piano students, and still had to take care of the house and the car, not to mention my social life (most of which is spent on the internet lol, but I had many girlfriends who I get together with to go to Starbucks or shopping or out-to-lunch). Again this is where you can take advantage of the “singleness” of sorts to do fun and girly stuff that you normally wouldn’t be able to do (for example, myself and a group of girls/women went to see an outdoor play of Beauty and the Beast)! Really, the possibilities are endless.
5. ESTABLISH A SUPPORT NETWORK. Find people who are in the same boat as you that can help you through…a shoulder to cry on when you need it…someone who REALLY understands what you are going through (for me, it was my church, 30 other women in our church whose husbands were deployed, as well as a few local friends, and of course, my friends here on CMW).
One of the biggest frustrations of being in a long-distance relationship are people who say that they understand when they really don’t (for example, the girl who complains because she has to go three whole days without seeing her boyfriend, and you think, “get real! I’ve gone 3 months!”) Try to make as many friends as you can, because it helps.
6. RELY ON THE LORD. He can and will get you through this (for more on this, please read my devotional entitled “Army Strong”).
Yes, some days are going to be utterly horrid!
Some days you will be angry and want to scream and throw things (i.e. “THIS ISN’T FAIR”)!
Some days you will be lonely.
Some days you will just cry all day.
All of these are normal emotions, but try to make those days the minority, not the majority. You will never stop missing him or wanting him to be with you, but you can make it through. What’s most important is that you KEEP MOVING FORWARD and don’t stay down in the dumps.
About the author:
Aprille Donaldson has been married to her active duty soldier for two and a half years and is about to deliver their first child. Currently stationed in Kentucky, she and her husband are getting ready for their second deployment.