A Lesson on Distance

Monday, December 1, 2014

Once upon a time--a boy & girl met during college break in June of 2011. They became inseparable & chose each others company over any other option for the rest of the break. At the end of the break they had to choose between what felt right & what would be easiest for them. In the words of the Fray, 'sometimes the hardest thing & the right thing are the same.' So they decided a 4 hour distance was worth what they found over the summer & planned to stay together as they both went back to the lives they had created independently in their own college towns. Each story of a long distance relationship is unique. This one just happens to be ours.

We faced many trials & learned numerous lessons after deciding to stay together once that summer ended. I wouldn't change any part of our story for anything, but I did wish on occasion there was a handbook written to help the struggle of distance not be so hard. After 2.5 years of distance, 6 months of traveling weekly to see each other after college & 2 months of marriage I feel like sharing what we each learned during our time in a long distance relationship.

1.) Keep up communication. It's so easy to let days pass where you fall into the comfort of texting instead of having a phone or Skype conversation. Things can get mundane if you talk each day & feel like you have nothing new to share. I suggest finding a couples devotional to do over the phone so you have a unique way to communicate each day. The devotional topic could lead to more conversation afterward which will keep your talking points different each day.

2.) Plan on date nights. This sounds a little crazy if you are in a long distance relationship, but it's totally doable. You could mail something sweet to each other & make sure it arrives by a Friday or Saturday (flowers, candy, new dress, new tie, etc.) Have a night in & Skype while you're eating dinner or watching the same movie. If you're getting ready for a night out with friends, snap pictures of the finished product & send them to your significant other. They may not get to see you all ready for a date or night out in person but pictures are the next best thing. I used to have my roommates/friends snap multiple pictures to send to Josh & I always looked forward to it. It's like you're actually getting ready for your significant other.

3.) Be understanding. There will be times when you're in a different season than your bf/gf. They may be going through something difficult & you may be having an easier time. Not seeing them regularly can make you forget that they do have those hard times & we can get impatient & frustrated when they're grumpy or short on the phone. Always ask with sincerity if something is the matter & let them vent to you. They may also just need extra time to work on whatever project or problem is getting them down. Be understanding in this case too.

4.) Be silly. Life can get in the way of your relationship very quickly if you let it. You both are living separate lives in separate places. Allow time for funny moments. Laugh together. You may miss each other regularly but that doesn't mean things have to be sad. If you witness something funny happen, text it to him/her. We had a FB message thread & I would find funny Pinterest pictures to send him in the mornings so he could laugh when he checked it.

5.) Be respectful of their time. Your significant other may only have 15 minutes to spare on a busy day. If they call you during that time, use it respectfully. Don't answer around your friends unless you don't have another option. Don't answer in a loud place unless you are respectful enough to go outside so you can hear them. Don't be short with them because you need to get back to watching a tv show. You are talking to your favorite person in the only allotted time they have that day & they are choosing to spend it by calling you. Be grateful of that.

6.) Keep God first. There will be times when you get invited to go to parties or girls nights that end up at bars. College is one of the easiest ways to be led astray by worldly temptations. Just remember that although you may not see your guy every day, you still have someone there that loves you & honors you. Make sure you honor him by your choices as a young woman living hours away. This isn't to say you can't have fun. If you know you struggle with temptation on any level with nights out or being around alcohol, don't risk it. Choose a night in with your closest friends or a dinner out at a new restaurant. My friends & I would 'cruise' and listen to new music or go to the nearest big city & have random photoshoots. These friends were my closest & always helped to keep Christ at the center of our friendship. Aim to keep Him at the center of your long distance relationship as well. 

Again, this choice wasn't an easy one but it was beyond worth it. Search your heart & pray before you decide to take on a long distance relationship. You both need to be on the same page with this choice & know that it will take work--just know this work can produce the most amazing relationship you will ever experience.

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