A lot of you already know that I am married to my best friend and have a beautiful daughter. What you probably don’t know is that all of our dating phase and a few months of our marriage were actually long distance. Yes, my current life is a product of a long distance relationship!
I personally didn’t believe that something of the sort could work out given that I had tried it twice before. What made this time different was obviously the phase in life that we were in, but also our intentions. While many people might actually have good intentions, that isn’t always going to be enough.
I’ve learned that the recipe for success varies based on the ingredients and how they work well together. The same way you can’t mix the yeast into dough without sugar and expect it to rise is the same way you can’t expect a long distance relationship to work without careful consideration. You also can’t just mix the cold ingredients and expect it to turn into bread without the heat. So how can you mix a hot person with someone with extremely cold feet and expect sourdough?
Okay, I might be hungry as I type this, but that doesn’t make any of it any less relevant. You want to know the secret of how my long distance relationship worked out?
Here are some other important factors of my long distance relationship that turned it into a marriage.
This one is a bit of a no-brainer to some, but communication played a vital role in sustaining my relationship.
My husband and I learnt very early on in the game that we needed to up our communication game to have a sustainable relationship. This wasn’t just a ‘long distance relationship’ consideration. It is actually, the firm foundation we both wanted to maintain once our relationship progressed into marriage.
I needed him to know that trust was a big issue on my part. It wasn’t a reflection on his character, but a result of my previous relationships. He also needed to know about my personal struggles including daddy issues, depression, and so on. I, on the other hand, needed to know that he didn’t want to feel suffocated or controlled. Also nothing triggered by me, but a product of his upbringing and life experiences.
And knowing this wasn’t enough on both parts. We needed to know just how to respond to each other’s triggers.
So when I lashed out at him, he would calmly ask me how my day was. Can you imagine someone responding to anger by asking random questions?
The very first few times, I was confused and a bit upset that he was changing the subject. But the more he did this, the easier it was for us to identify just what it was that triggered my reaction. Spoiler alert; it was almost never him.
Related: Learning to love again
Understanding our love languages
My husband is not one to enjoy long phone calls, and yet I needed them to feel loved and appreciated. He’s an ‘uh-huh’, ‘okay’ kind of person when speaking on the phone. Yes, one of those! However, despite his dislike for long-winded and repetitive conversations, he made the effort to call me every day. And in return, I texted him when I missed him. It wasn’t always perfect but it was a happy medium.
Of course, there were moments when I would just pick up the phone and dial him. But after a few mishaps with emergency bypass, we learned to work around it.
All I needed was just to have someone on the end of the line, you know, hear him breathing. So I listened to him typing, playing PlayStation, or listening to music. Luckily, he didn’t care too much about my clingy, stalker-like tendencies. My level of weird worked for him and his love language too.
It seems a little strange right now, but back then, it meant the world to me since that was the closest to being in the same room.
I know that most people do not have the luxury of traveling every month, so skip over this if you are looking for a solution. Luckily for my now-husband and me, we were lucky enough to do so. So what do two lovebirds with no limitations do? We traveled.
Not a month would go by without either of us traveling to visit the other. Luckily a huge chunk of our expenses was billed to our companies as we’d travel mainly for business. They didn’t need to know that we would extend our trips by a few days to spend time together! Shhhh! Semantics.
The other important part of our traveling endeavors was to schedule a vacation together. So this way we could explore a different part of the world together. You know what they say about all work and no play!
The man I’m married to has never really changed, but the way I feel about him and how much I trust him has. If someone were to tell me that they saw my husband chatting up a lady or drinking in a club, I would laugh at both.
I remember quite a few uncomfortable conversations that my husband and I had before tying the knot. A lot of them were related to exes, closure and just regular habits.
Back in the day, I wasn’t too keen to have such conversations. But knowing now how our relationship turned out, I would recommend it to everyone who asks.
We covered parts of the other person’s character that we weren’t too comfortable with. Interactions with the opposite sex and how they made us feel. We even swapped passwords for every single social platform and device. And for extra stalker points, we activated “find my friends”. Of course, each of these was done with different motives. For example, ‘find my friends’ was to help with my anxiety of him traveling so much. The passwords were shared because we switched to family versions of certain subscriptions, etc. And if you are a woman who has unlimited access to everything your man does, you know how much trust that can build.
It may seem a bit extreme – I promise we aren’t insane. When you live so far from the person you are courting, having access to their daily lives becomes so much more important!
Conclusion: What made my long distance relationship work?
Before meeting the right person, long distance never worked for me. It took finding someone who was open to being stalked if it made me feel less anxious to get through the phase. Of course, I am not suggesting you search for stalkers. No, you need to find someone equally as weird as you are for it to work.
These are obviously things that worked for my husband and me, and may not be applicable to everyone. What is important is to establish just what a functional long distance relationship looks like to you and your partner. Once you’ve done that, implement it as soon as possible!