We get it, long-distance relationships are tough. However, while the situation may not be ideal, it really can be as positive or negative an experience as you make it. If you choose today to be intentional about making this a positive experience, you will be amazed at how the closeness between you and your spouse grows, how love flourishes, and how your marriage comes alive again as you conquer a difficult challenge together.
As you practice some of these ideas, you’ll both be strengthened through this experience, and even though you wouldn’t want to do it again, you’ll be grateful for all that you learned.
So how do you nurture your marriage, feel close to each other, and create a thriving marriage with so many miles between you?
Here are 10 suggestions that may help you both be more committed to making this work. (Remember, you made promises to each other when you were married, promises that you should both be determined to keep even if you are separated for the time being.)
1. Be romantic
Write handwritten love notes, smother them in kisses and cologne, and send them via snail mail (super romantic). Or send your spouse your favorite perfume or cologne so they can spray it on their pillow at night and think of you. Say “I love you,” “You are gorgeous,” and other compliments of that sort – OFTEN.
2. Practice healthy communication
If ever there was a time to be a great communicator, it’s now.
LISTEN! Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen. This becomes even more important when your connection comes over the phone or internet. Come up with little phrases, code names, or other words that are significant between the two of you – those little things build friendship and are a great way to quickly communicate a special message, and will help strengthen your love for each other.
Try not to fight – fighting long distance is the worst because the silent treatment can last forever. If you do fight, be quick to forgive, apologize, and say you’re sorry.
Find humor in small things – share anything funny that happened in your day, or that you came across online.
3. Find reasons to celebrate
Celebrate hump days, milestones, and other small and big achievements. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays via Skype or other means. Set goals together and then motivate and celebrate each other’s progress daily.
4. Go on a date
Yes, a virtual date. Ask your spouse out in advance, and schedule a solid block of time where you can be together, just the two of you. Be creative – you can sit down to a nice dinner together, . a game, plan your next vacation, read a book back and forth, or just chat and catch up with each other.
Dating nurtures marriages because it helps couples reconnect on a deeper level. Lucky for you, you can have that kind of connection even via Skype or Facetime. It’s not ideal, but possible. Just make it happen.
5. Work hard
Whether you are the one at home or away, work hard at being the best person you can be. Work hard at being a good spouse, a good parent, a good neighbor, a good employee, and a good community member. Find ways to get involved and to go the extra mile. If you’re away for work, focus your attention on being the best employee/leader you can be. While remembering that your marriage is more important than your career, time away from home is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself a little more in that project or engagement you’ve been working on – it can keep you out of trouble too.
6. Stay in touch
Call, Skype or Facetime as often as possible (even with a time difference). Have something to say. Be excited to see each other. Talk about anything and everything, just as you do when you’re together.
Try not to focus on the negatives, but rather stay positive and upbeat.
Keep a list of questions and answers going between the two of you and use this time apart as a time to really get to know each other’s hearts. Also, know each other’s schedule and what is going on, so you can send encouraging texts throughout the day. You should also text or email pictures throughout the day. This is great way to feel like you’re still an important part of each other’s lives, even though you’re miles apart.
7. Be loyal
Have an object/action that can remind you of your spouse (especially when you feel weak or vulnerable). This could be a trinket they gave you, your wedding ring, a picture, or just something you do (like tapping your heart with your fore-finger). The principle is simple – come up with something to help you remember your spouse and the promises you made to them when you were married – especially if you find your mind or heart wandering.
Keep pictures of your spouse close by. Think of your spouse often – when your thoughts wander, let them wander to your spouse. Beware the temptation to share your more personal thoughts or feelings with a member of the opposite s*x – emotional infidelity can be just as real as physical infidelity. Simply put, don’t do anything to break the trust your spouse has in you.
8. Send something thoughtful
Send gifts, pictures, care packages, and little things your spouse would love. Make homemade cards, advent calendars, memes, etc.
9. Take care of yourself
Take care of yourself emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally and socially. Eat healthy food, get plenty of sleep, and exercise often. Find an outlet or learn a new skill by yourself or together (i.e. -Take an online class or learn a new language at the same time as your spouse.). Strive to make a positive difference in the lives of those around you. Finding ways to serve and lift other’s burdens magically keeps our own problems in perspective.
10. Visit each other if possible
If you don’t have the money, there are plenty of fund-me type sites out there you could try. Or you can just save your pennies. If your spouse isn’t in the military, make an effort to meet up somewhere in the middle. Or, you could take turns flying out on weekends to see each other. Do all you can to make physical in-person visits a real possibility. Those short visits will strengthen and renew you for the time of separation that may still remain.
We recognize how difficult long-distance relationships can be, but please don’t get discouraged! Don’t ever think about giving up! YOU can take the lead and choose to be intentional about nurturing your marriage (which will probably motivate your spouse to make more of an effort to stay close to you!), even with distance between you. And you can start today. You can do this!