One of the problems with loving apart (read: long distance relationships) is the tendency to grow distant from your partner. You are both growing, just in different directions. For any couple, this is heartbreaking. But for a married couple, it could be disastrous. However it does not have to be this way; it is possible to grow together when you are apart and here are a few tips to help you along your way.
It is a mindset thing
Be determined: You have to have the right mindset from the get-go. Understand that this is going to be a difficult period, then strengthen your resolve. Be determined to make this work. Relationships (marriages) require a lot of effort, but when it becomes a long distance marriage, then you are just going to have to work extra hard.
Be intentional: The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes Intentional as something done by design or intended. Regardless of how you came to be in a loving apart marriage, you need to be intentional about doing things to help you both grow together.
Be focused: Stay focused on your partner and on your relationship. Even when things get a little difficult, stay focused on the price, don’t let things (and people) distract you. And there are going to be lots of people saying all sorts of negative things to you…don’t dwell on those. Stay focused.
It’s largely about trust
Make joint decisions: This is not always going to be easy particularly where you need to make a quick decision. But as much as you can, get your partner in on the decision making process. Don’t wait till after the deed is done before informing the other person; this can lead to distrust. And if you do have to make a snap decision, let the other person know.
Handle discipline together: The fact that one parent is physically absent does not necessarily mean he or she has to be absent from the family altogether, particularly when there are children. You can both be involved in discipline with the absent parent reinforcing the decisions of the parent on ground.
Keep each other in the loop: Fill each other in on the bits that happen through out the day. If you keep a journal, this is a good way to help you remember your day and you can let your partner in on the things that happen. Don’t hold out on your partner…even the stuff you think unimportant can serve as factors that help you connect. This is a good way to grow together when you are apart.
Don’t forget to connect
Set a specific time aside to talk/Skype: This ties with being intentional about connecting. It’s okay to call spontaneously, and it is also a really good way of connecting. But if you are both busy, it’s so easy to let things fall and before you know it, you’re going days or weeks without calling each other. So set a structure and pick a specific time and day of the week to call or Skype.
Pray at the same time: If you are praying people pick a time of the day when you will both pray. And if you are not praying people, this is a good time as any to start. Prayer is spiritual and so is marriage, and praying together is one of the best ways to connect. It does not really matter if you are on different continents, you could pick early in the morning or last thing at night to both pray wherever you are.
Plan something together at least once a week: Do something together – and yes, you can do this even if you are loving apart. If you like movies, you can plan to watch a movie at the same time, maybe on Saturday night and you can chat throughout the movie. This works if you love sports too.
When you decide to grow together when you are apart, it makes the living together less stressful.