Surviving a Long-Distance Marriage
In conventional settings, married couples live together. However, there are many couples who are forced to live apart due to different reasons. Whether you are separated because of work, military deployment, or a family emergency, challenges can be many when you are away from someone you love since even the best marriages require commitment and work, even more, when the two of you live in separate cities.
In this sense, a long-distance marriage means that two people who are in a union live in different places, whether cities or countries. The arrangements for your physical separation may be permanent or physical and may have been made voluntarily or due to unavoidable situations. Although there is no precise way to define long-distance relationships, it is generally thought to imply a union where those involved live more than 100 miles apart.
What makes distance marriage even more challenging is the fact that intimacy and communication are important components to keep unions strong. When couples feel that they are starting to grow apart, topics like divorce can creep up even when they still share the same home. Married couples living in different locales seem even greater experience these thoughts. The good news is that such unions can still work, although much effort is required. It may also be necessary to find a competent marriage counselor who can help you work through some of the challenges as they occur. Here are a few tips on how you can make your union work.
Work Towards Regular and Honest Communication
Communication is an important component of any relationship, whether you are living together or in different cities. Of course, with the distance between you, having physical contact may be impossible. That means that you need to work harder to keep the spark in your marriage. In this context, speaking and writing to each other can be useful ways to keep in touch with each other. You have to be careful what you say, however, as you don’t want to depress rather than build up your loved one. Anger and criticism can sound harsher when written or communicated over the phone.
While regular communication is important, you should avoid overdoing it. You may end up seeming possessive and may push your spouse away. What we mean here is that you don’t have to be in contact with your spouse around the clock. Don’t give in to the urge to compensate for the distance by doing more than necessary. An important point to note is that less can be more. As long as you are honest with each other, keep communication regular but not excessive.
Deal with Your Emotions
When you have unresolved problems and negative emotions, you may end up doing harm to your marriage. If you are already having issues like feelings of abandonment and resentment, you need to work through them for the sake of your marriage. You could benefit from engaging the services of a counselor. There are competent therapists specializing in such issues, who could offer competent help. With guidance from a professional, you will improve your ability to handle stress and get the encouragement you need to handle the complex issues that may arise in your life and marriage.
Deliberately Invest in Making Your Marriage Work
When you live together with your spouse, you have to work on your marriage as issues are bound to arise. With a long-distance union, the issues will likely be more than anticipated, and your marriage will demand love and care even more than traditional unions. There are hurdles that may require assistance from a marriage counselor, as effective communication may also be an issue. Remember, engaging a marriage counselor is an investment in your marriage and is not an admission of defeat or a sign that your marriage is damaged. Instead, look at the counselor as a skilled and independent third party who can help you to improve your communication and show your feelings in gentler and more effective ways. You will get suggestions on ways to effectively keep the spark in your marriage alive.
Keep Surprising Each Another
The longer you stay away from your spouse, the more routine and boring the union may seem. There is nothing better than a pleasant surprise to keep things interesting and your days happier. You could, for instance, send love letters every once in a while in the mail. Also, never get tired of demonstrating your love for each other. Both of you can take turns surprising each other. When you are miles apart, even the little things count.
Make the Most of Your Time Together
When you are able to be together, either during holidays or short visits, make the most of the time you spend. Ensure that you really enjoy the moments and create memories. You could go somewhere private and make each other priority. If the two of you have been faithful to each other and worked on your marriage during the time apart, the connection will be even more powerful when you get together again.
View the Time Apart as an Opportunity
Time apart may not necessarily be a bad thing for your marriage. It allows you to learn how to take care of yourself and identify your strong points and shortcomings. Consider the separation as a test to your union and a chance to create a truly strong bond. If you manage to work on your challenges, your marriage will come out of the separation even stronger than before.
Long-distance marriage can be trying for most couples, especially when parties are apart for extended periods. If you find yourself in such a union, both of you need to clarify your expectations and manage your desires. Try to establish ground rules to avoid unexpected unpleasantries. Most importantly, be honest with each other and work on your communication skills. If you have concerns or issues that bother you, consider engaging a professional counselor.