In all of the times Husband has had to move away for one internship or another, in spite of our best efforts to communicate and be there for each other, we always reach an inevitable point where the communication breaks down, feelings get hurt, lonely emotions bubble up…and we argue. Most often, even as it happens, we realize it’s silly and really just a result of missing each other. But in general, distance is just really hard on relationships.
After discussing at length how to better approach distance in our relationship we have concluded a couple of things. He and I approach being apart in two very different ways (not sure if this is true for all females and males or just us), and secondly, although the easy way to get through it is to retreat into a sort of individualistic mental state, it is really necessary to remain a unit and a couple so you can move forward rather than backward in your relationship (this is a very hard thing to achieve).
Call it the age old saying “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars” or just call it our differing personalities, but as soon as we say our goodbye a slew of different emotions and thoughts enter Husband and I’s minds. To him, distance puts him in a sort of survival mode. His life prior, our relationship, friendships, and pretty much everything in general that is not related to the task or time at hand, is put on hold. He turns it all off like a switch, and easily turns it back on upon his return. I on the other hand cannot turn any kind of emotion off, and without the physical assurance, I need words so much more. I need phone calls with actual involved conversations, and sweet words of affirmation. As sappy as it is I need those “I miss you’s” and “I love you’s” on at least a semi-consistent basis.
We learned and acknowledged these differing ways of dealing through years of experience. In the past we have tried remedying it using various methods. Consistent nightly phone calls, and then video chats so it would be more personal. And although those are still totally necessary, neither of us really care to talk on the phone much, nor does Husband usually care to recap his day’s events as they are not always the most pleasant. We’ve also shared photo albums of our days or experiences. These have all been helpful, but have not actually helped with the root of the problem of being separated…being connected. In our situation being connected comes from the deep rooted conversations where we explore our emotions and get down to the nitty gritty of how we are feeling, how we are dealing. Those raw emotions that make you vulnerable, and this person, the love of your life, is the only one you can trust them with.
Obviously those types of conversations aren’t an every day occurrence. And without each other either being present for your day to day, or at least talking through it, it can sometimes be hard to randomly start discussing what you are feeling because the other person can’t possibly understand where you are coming from, because they haven’t been there. This is what makes staying a unit and couple hard. You aren’t there for weeks, months or sometimes even years of events that are slowly shaping and molding each of you as a person. It can be hard to come back after all that and have to rehash the past, just to meet at the present, and move forward to the future.
This time around I’m trying something new. Call them love letters, call them daily recaps, or call them a waste of time, but since Husband left I have sat down every night (and sometimes throughout the day) to write an email about the days happenings, about my random thoughts and emotions and anything else that strikes my fancy as I type. More than anything I want him to still feel involved in my life and in the dogs lives. I write these emails knowing he may not have time to respond, he may not even have time to read them, but they allow me to share my story and to express myself. And hopefully he will read them and we’ll be able to share these next few months as if we are together. These emails also provide a template for him, showing him what I need or want from him.
It’s only been two days, so I can’t speak for whether this new method is going to work, other than a quick, few sentence email back from him last night thanking me for them.
How do you deal with long distance relationships?