Is A Long-Distance Relationship Right For You
By: Ronke Alao
Two days ago was 1st of December, 2013 and I couldn’t help but remember that exactly six years ago, I left my family and fiancé behind and headed for the United States. I could remember vividly how difficult it was because we had only been dating for a few months, (see article on this http://www.ronkealao.com/finding-strength-through-lifes-uncertainties). As I sit back and reminisce, I could not help but be thankful to God for all I’ve been through and how far he’s brought my husband and I.
Yes, we were crazy about each other in every way but in light of what I call a long, long-distance relationship that later turned into a long-distance marriage; crazy love and attraction wasn’t enough to sustain it. It took strength, (the God-kind) and deep commitment.
My story is no doubt interesting and makes for a good, “happily ever after”, but a long-distance relationship or marriage is nowhere near romantic. I get emails on a regular basis, (mostly from women but sometimes for men too), from people who are in a long-distance relationship or thinking of embarking on one. They want to know if it will last and if they can pull through the challenges. They ask questions on what they ought to do to make it work. The ladies ask how to bridge the communication gap between them and their boyfriends. Sometimes I have answers and sometimes I don’t. As much as I’m glad that mine worked out, I try not to be a “human billboard” for long-distance relationships. Why? Well, because they can be very emotionally draining.
- Confusion: My moments of confusion were intermittent. Just before we got married, I had moments where I seriously doubted by fiancé’s intention to marry me. We had not seen each other in two years and only communicated through phone and email.
- Emotional Turmoil: I had a few of those. I had them before we got married. I had them after we got married. Regular, (non long-distance) relationships have their own fair share of emotional challenges but they pale in comparison to that encountered by people in a long-distance relationship. Not seeing him brought moments of irritation every now and then that I sometimes took out on him, I must confess.
- The Distance: The distance can also be a factor on how difficult it gets. It’s one thing to have your boyfriend/fiancé living in a different state but I had mine living in a different continent altogether. He lived in a different time zone, (six hour difference), so his day would usually start around my bedtime and by the time I was heading home from work, he would be in bed.
- Communication: Though we did our best, communication remained a challenge all those years. By communication, I just don’t mean the frequency with which we talked but also being able to understand the other party and be understood. There was the technical part of communication too when bad phone lines would mess with our conversations
- Different Cultures: We were raised in the same culture but the fact that I now lived in a different country/culture meant that my thinking had somewhat changed. My values remained the same but the Ronke he knew was somewhat changing. He was too. We made conscious efforts to see that we weren’t growing apart.
It’s worth noting that these challenges persisted and perhaps became intensified after we got married and were still living apart.
Dealing With The Challenges
We did the best we knew to tackle these challenges. Some of what helped us was being completely open to each other. Having patience and having lots of it. We both had smart phones so exchanging emails was quite easy and we didn’t have to wait till we had phone conversations. Considering the time difference, we had to set appointments that worked for both of us to speak either on phone or Skype. I remember times when we would be on the phone for hours, (sometimes three or more hours), doing nothing but resolving difficult issues. We spent a good amount of time praying together on the phone. I believe this helped promote a feeling of closeness. Also, we were so open to each other to the point of sharing the challenges we both were having with members of the opposite sex. Just because you have a boyfriend or husband who isn’t around doesn’t mean people will respect that and not want to have inappropriate relationships with you. You have to tread the path of caution in dealing with advances from other men. Another point worthy of note, make sure the long-distance relationship has a pre-determined duration. Don’t get yourself involved in a relationship where you both can’t figure out when you can possibly be together and be close together in locations not too far apart. Being willing to do whatever it takes to see it works can really set a long-distance relationship on the right course.
Our first three years of marriage was lived apart from each other. Tough times I tell you but we made it. Today, we live together as man and wife and I have never been more grateful.
Word of Caution
I’m not advocating that a relationship has to survive by all means. I stuck with my fiancé because I knew he genuinely loved me, respected me and adored me. No woman has to stay in a relationship where her boyfriend demeans her, abuses her and doesn’t honour her in any way. Also, if it becomes apparent that he is not so into you anymore, hold your head up high and walk.
You have a future so bright ahead of you that you don’t want to waste any time crying over someone who isn’t worth the trouble.
Is a long-distance relationship right for you? That’s a question no one can answer for you. You have to know if you are ready for the challenges that are bound to stare you in the face. You need to know if you are ready for the emotional rollercoaster that will most likely come with it. I didn’t plan to go into one, but it did happen and we were able to make the best of it. I hope this article serves to help those on the verge of making this decision. Wishing you the very best!
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Ronke Alao is a writer who gives time-tested and simple principles to help women enjoy their relationships and marriages. Her methods teach women how to get past the confusion of dating and getting to the place where they really have fulfilling relationships and marriage.
She is known for her ‘up-close and personal’ style of getting her message across and drawing lessons from her personal experience. She is married to her best friend, Wale, who is her biggest cheerleader. Her online newsletter,EveryWoman’s Heart,is read in over 90 countries.