Long distance relationships. We've all heard about it, read about it and heard cases made for or against it. When I decided to write this article, my first thought was: What is long distance relationship?
I searched the web and found wikipedia.org defined it as "A long-distance relationship or LDR is typically an intimate relationship that takes place when the partners are separated by a considerable distance." Hmn, pretty simple right? Not until you've lived it.
Every girl reaches an age when she starts fantasizing about dating, courtship and marriage. For me that was about 18yrs old.Yes,I thought boys were dorks through my teenage years. No offense. I thought the world of my three older brothers but I didn't have any particular interest in boys. In fact I didn't understand why other girls in high school wanted a boyfriend or cried over one. It made no sense to me because I thought I had no business having a boyfriend until I 'grew up'-whatever that meant.
As I turned 18, I suddenly had 'new eyes'. Yes, boys were no dorks. Some of them could be really cute! Anyway, I started having a picture in my mind of what being in an intimate relationship would be like and what kind of marriage I wanted. Non of my fantasies included a long distance relationship let alone a long distance marriage. Life sometimes serves us dishes we don't remember ordering but we can either chose to whine about it or eat it with grace and help let someone else know just how great it tastes.
Even though my 'new eyes' was on at 18, I never had a boyfriend all through college. I played the game of 5/0. Three months before my 23rd birthday, I entered into a relationship with a cute young man whom I'm now married to. We were so in love it was beyond my wildest imaginations. Nothing you've seen in the movies comes close to it. We both wondered how we could have been just acquaintances in college. We had only been together for 10 months when I had to leave for the United States.
I didn't really think we would be having a long distance relationship in the real sense because he was going to join me in a few months. Well, we never saw each other for the next two years. Though we didn't see that coming, there were a few things we did that helped through the period of 'seperation':
A Strong Commitment
My fiance and I both had a strong commitment to our relationship. It wasn't assumed, it was a known fact. It was verbalized by both of us. We strongly believed we had a future together but knew the warm fuzzies alone couldn't keep our relationship strong across the oceans. We both committed to doing everything within our power to make it work,so help us God.
This commitment served us well because at times of stress and strain which can be amplified in a long distance relationship, we both had it at the back of our minds that we weren't throwing our relationship in the trash can just because either of us was in a bad mood.
Patience (Lots of it!)
Every relationship needs a healthy dose of patience. Moreso a long distance relationship. When you know you can't see each other at the drop of a hat, you have no choice but learn patience.When you leave in different parts of the world with five to six hours in time difference, you learn patience.
I don't mean the type you get in a clinic. Before my departure, my fiance and I sat down and thought of scenarios that can cause strain in a long distance relationship. We realized there might be times when one party might not be able to reach the other on phone due to work schedule or instant messaging might be a source of irritation when internet connection on one end is slow. So even though we were yet to encounter these challenges, we were already dealing with it. We immunized ourselves against it so we don't fall prey to the stress it could create in a relationship. We also promised each other that we would never end a phone call with either one of us mad at the other person. We would always resolve disagreements before saying bye over the phone.
These steps played a role in helping us have a fulfilling relationship though we were worlds apart. Been in constant communication helped us grow together so neither of us felt out of touch with what was going on in the other person's life.
Does it mean we never had challenges? We surely did. I would be lying to say we didn't. Having to listen to naysayers and watch people look at you strangely when they hear you are in a long distance relationship can feel uneasy at first. And that was just the beginning. As time went by and my fiance has still not joined me in the US, I got comments like "Are you two really serious or are you already thinking of dropping him for someone else?" There were comments that stung till I had to immunize myself again.
I had to learn to spend birthdays without my fiance.
Let's just say when you don't see your partner everyday except on facebook and skype chats, conversations are a big deal. You don't have time to be upset over minor stuff. The time spent together is so precious. You enjoy every little detail of each other's day. What other couples take for granted, you don't. My husband and I have come to know each other very deeply through rich conversations. Every gift exchanged is all the more precious and life is beautiful.
People are often doubtful or even fearful of long distance relationships but there are plenty of examples that proof it can work just great when two individuals are committed. I asked on my facebook page this past week about people in long distance relationships and Renae shared part of her story with me. She gave full permission to share this with you so I will quote her words directly. She wrote "I spent the first 10 years of my marriage only seeing my husband 1 weekend a month. It's not overlooking the little things that keep you going. Talk regulary, send messages randomly that you are thinking of them, miss them and love them and LOTS of encouragement to each other."
If you are in a long distance relationship right now and doubt if you will make it, let me stretch forth a branch of hope and say "yes you can!"
What Did You Think?
Share your thoughts about today's article,
leave us a comment below.
Know anyone in a long distance relationship or who could benefit from this article?
Please share with them by clicking the facebook icon below. Remember sharing is caring.
Ronke Alao left her family behind and relocated to the United States from Nigeria. She struggled with fitting in and lacked confidence at first. Having being through moments of uncertainty, doubt and not fitting in herself, she is able to bring compassion and understanding to the table when she speaks to others. Her passion is to help instill confidence and a healthy self esteem in other women so they can live a fulfilling and rich life. She just released her new E-book-Embracing The Real You.Download yours for free–>>Embracing The Real You