Saturday, January 12, 2013

Love Across Two Time Zones

Over the years, we have seen an increase in the cases of long distance marriages. Long distance marriages have become a lot more common than you may realize, most likely due to the difficult economy we have been facing for the last several years. Jobs have become harder to find, forcing people to look outside of their normal commuting range, and of course the housing crisis has made it difficult, if not impossible. Being in a long distance marriage creates complications and can make a marriage even more challenging.

I used to think that all long-distance relationships were doomed.  I thought the only way a long-distance relationship can amount to anything is for it to become a short-distance relationship. Distance may be fine for relatives and old friends, but when it comes to romantic love—that mysterious chemical reaction that's set off when two people occupy the same physical space- the long-distance relationship is a poor excuse for the real thing.

In long-distance relationships, your life becomes compartmentalized: There's the life with him and the life without him, and the life without him is much, much bigger. if you are going to a wedding for instance you are going alone and if you are tempted to cheat then the burden of the fact that you almost certainly get away with it and if you're afraid he'll cheat then that's another topic entirely

Some might say distance makes the heart grow fonder but is that really true? So women, redecorate the sitting room, the bedroom, the kitchen, yourself...become a pillar of productivity! But if you have 3 sons like an in-law of mine, you feel saddled with all the responsibility of raising the kids with only a lonely bed and the fidelity of a disembodied voice to look forward to at night.
I used to think long distance relationships don't work because unless you're in it day to day, unless you witness the entire evolution of her skin blemishes and are familiar with the whole array of ugly shirts then its not real. Today’s technology likely plays a large part in the ability of couples to stay connected, though they may only be able to see each other on the weekends, or even monthly. The prevalence of unlimited cell phone minutes and video calls via Skype help defeat the loneliness and feelings of isolation when you have to be away from your spouse and you get to see all the bad hair-days and ugly shirts on the other person. 

Making time to talk at least once each day is critical.
Get creative. Some couples have found that watching the same movie while on the phone together helps pass the time and allows them to talk about the movie, almost like if they were actually together.

Schedule regular weekends together, no matter what the cost. Yes, it’s expensive, but nothing takes the place of being able to see your spouse regularly, face-to-face. Couples who had tight travel budgets scoured the internet for the best airfare bargains, but made seeing each other a priority, no matter what.

Put each other first. At least one spouse in a long distance marriage typically has fears about weathering the challenges of being apart. Talking about the fears and trying not to push those buttons will make your time away easier and less stressful for both of you.

Don’t put your life on hold. Whining and moping because you are apart will not only make both you and your spouse unhappy, but also could severely negatively impact your relationship. Maintaining friendships, getting out of the house and enjoying your hobbies/activities will not only make you happier, but it will make the time pass quicker as well.

Get romantic. Things like chocolates and flowers tend to fade after marriage, but this is an important time to up the romance factor. When you are together, try to plan memorable activities that both of you will enjoy, and don’t forget to take photos to save those cherished memories!

Have a going-away date. Lastly, and quite possibly most importantly, make sure you have a plan that includes a going-away date before your next trip out of town that might or might not involve the kids. Knowing how long you will be apart, and looking forward to being together again can truly help you both cope with the loneliness.

Ijeoma Olujekun

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