When you envision marrying the love of your life, you probably don't imagine living apart. However, sometimes long-distance relationships are unavoidable and you end up married but living in different states (or even different countries). Whether you or your spouse are in the military, have jobs in different cities, or family obligations that keep you from one another, there are plenty of reasons this unfortunate predicament might become your only option.
Although it can be frustrating, challenging, and even downright lonely, it's not impossible. With a love that's strong enough to last and trust between you and your partner, you can get through anything. And because a little friendly advice never hurt anyone, keep reading for six tips for making a long-distance marriage work, no matter what the circumstances may be. It all comes down to adjusting your mindset—including the way you think about marriage—and having a plan for staying connected and reuniting. Here are some helpful things to keep in mind during the tough transition.
Throw out Your Expectations
Yes, once upon a time in an ideal world, two people got married, set up a house, started a family, and lived happily ever after. But now, thanks to technology, the world is much smaller. You can meet somebody online while living hundreds of miles apart just as easily as you can stay connected with loved ones who move far away.
With this in mind, it's time to forget the old rules of marriage and put aside the natural urge to worry whether or not your life and marriage fit into a particular mold. It can be incredibly empowering for you and your S.O. to ditch your expectations of what marriage is supposed to be. After all, it's hard enough to live up to those unrealistic standards even if you and your spouse live under the same roof.
Setting rules with which you're both comfortable can help eliminate common misunderstandings. You might agree to call each other at a specific time each day or solidify plans to visit one another after certain amounts of time. You might even think about setting up ground rules for the types of social situations you or your spouse may encounter solo that you're uncomfortable with.
Although technology makes it easy to stay connected, it never hurts to agree upon some things in advance. Get into the littlest details, so there can be no confusion and if you stumble into a situation that makes you feel uneasy, just ask your spouse how they feel about it. While trust is important, communication is key.
Stay in Touch
Even couples who live together can grow apart, and it's that much easier for spouses who live separately to move in different directions. One way to prevent this from happening is to stay connected. That means you might make goals for how often you communicate and work to stick to them. With technology like Skype and FaceTime, there's no reason you can't communicate and connect no matter where you are. And while texting comes in handy, you may want to set a goal of not letting quick messages become your main mode of communication.
When you are able to connect, make the most of your conversations by sharing the details of your day. Discuss what is happening at work and at home. Tell each other about friends and family. Express your feelings for one another. If you're both up for it, you can also try connecting on a deeper level to make up for the lack of physical intimacy. Think phone sex, sending flirty pictures, or maybe even having a bit of fun with a video chat session. It's not for everyone but it's certainly worth a try if you and your partner are both into the idea.
Make a Big Deal of Little Things
When you're apart, you might find yourself feeling a bit lonely. Making a big deal of little things can help you and your S.O. continue to feel supported. For instance, you might send an encouraging message to your spouse before a big meeting or send flowers just because. These gestures also do wonders for keeping the romance alive and reminding your spouse that they're still number one in your heart.
Of course, don't forget to make a big deal of larger events, too. It can be easy to let birthdays and anniversaries slip when you're married but living in different places. Try setting reminders on your phone in advance of big days so you can be sure your S.O. feels just as special as they would if you were together in person.
This one is obvious but unless you've worked out an agreement with your partner that states otherwise, it's important to stay faithful and to make good on all of the vows you made to each other despite the distance. Just be sure to stay on the same page with your spouse and openly discuss boundaries and any situations that could make you feel uncomfortable. As long as you're honest with each other, there's no reason you can't make it through some time apart.
Face Jealousy Head-On
Jealousy is a pretty inevitable emotion when it comes to long-distance relationships. The best way to deal with it is for you and your S.O. to be honest with each other about everything. That means telling each other when you go out with other people and making sure your relationship status is well known and understood even when you're out on your own.
It can also be helpful to put yourself in your spouse's shoes when plans or situations are brought up that make you feel uneasy. Ask yourself whether or not you would be jealous if you were on the other side of things. If either of you feels uncomfortable with something, you can discuss it beforehand and come up with a solution that you both feel good about. After all, marriage is about compromise, right?