I had a client tell me yesterday that long distance relationships don’t work. He was referencing the situation he and his wife were in and quite resolute that if he were to leave the area to find work, that his marriage would dissolve. Little did he know that my husband and I have been living long distance for the past 7 years. When my husband first considered working in China, I was terrified. I was unsure of how I would mother 4 children alone. We had never been apart that long. What if I just couldn’t hack it? I remember feeling emotionally torn for myself and yet excited for the opportunities this would offer my husband and our family.
Some of what I learned during those years, was that I am strong and capable. I learned on YouTube how to fix our washer, and also realized I can change a battery in a beeping smoke detector. I learned that there are many things we tend to stress over that really aren’t worth the time and energy. My life in many ways became simpler and my focus shifted to what was most important. The most fantastic part, was I fell in love with my husband all over again, and again. Every 4 weeks he would come home and we would celebrate the time together. We couldn’t take each other for granted. If a disagreement arose (and of course they would) we didn’t waste much time owning our part and making it right again. Being selfish, stubborn, or giving the cold shoulder for a couple days just wasn’t a option. Believe it or not, these were some very happy years for us. Hard? Yes. Would we want to do it again? No. But, I can say that our marriage not only survived… it thrived.
Now although he no longer works on the other side of the planet and is only gone a few nights a week, we still use many of the same tools that helped nurture our marriage during those longer dry spells apart. We communicate daily, we express love and appreciation often, and we flirt. Yes, you read that right. It may be obnoxious for the kids, but we unashamedly flirt a lot. On our wedding day, this was actual counsel given to us in the ceremony! We have learned to not take ourselves too seriously. We play. We talk. We plan. We date. And then we get back to work.
I am not advocating long distance relationships. In fact, my husband and I frequently discuss what would be necessary in order to live more traditionally. What I am saying though, is that learning how to love your partner and acting on it is the glue that keeps a marriage together. And, this principle applies regardless of being under the same roof or thousands of miles apart.