Friday, November 11, 2011

Going The Distance

No, not running distance. I mean long-distance relationships.

DH and I have been together for 11 years and long-distance for 7 of those years, including 3 out of 4 years of marriage. We've lived in the same state for about 1 year and under the same roof for a total of 7 months. We've only spent one anniversary together.

And yet, it works.

DH's family has a long history of long-distance relationships. My parents were long-distance for a year before they got married. Yes, it can work.

How does it work? Well, we make it work. We talk on the phone at least a couple times a day, usually once or twice during the work day, sometimes in the evening before dinner, and always right before bed. There are some days that we don't get to talk until bedtime, mostly because I have a non-traditional schedule two days a week (morning and evening classes with a large amount of unstructured time in between ... I never know in advance how I will spend the unstructured time so DH often misses me while he is on break). We see each other about once a month, but it varies depending on other commitments. Some times are busier than others, and we schedule around big obligations. For several years, we were both in graduate school. We understood what it was like to have those big immovable deadlines. Big projects or papers. Comprehensive exams. Finals week. Thesis and dissertation defenses (for the record, I graduated 2 years ago and it took me less time ... DH is still working on his dissertation ... but it's getting to the finish line that matters ... who's keeping track of who finished first ;-D).

One thing I hear a lot is, "Oh, that must be so hard." My response is, "Well, yes and no." If you've already got a strong relationship, you will make it work over the distance. You have to constantly practice your communication skills. That's really all you can do most of the time. Communicate. That is a very important skill in any relationship. If there is anything wrong with your relationship, the distance magnifies it. The distance shows you the weak spots. You can choose to work on the weak spots or choose to break up. The root cause is not the distance. It's because something is flawed to begin with.

We jokingly say that we are not sure we can live under the same roof. Yes, it will be an adjustment. But I doubt it will be a problem. We have enough separate and shared interests. We do our own things (I train for marathons, he watches scary/violent movies, for example), and we also do things together just us or together with other people. We'll see soon when this long-distance business finishes up in the next few months.

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