When people ask me about my relationship with my husband before we got married, it’s sometimes hard to describe because we weren’t together physically for the overwhelming majority of it. But there is a phrase that always comes up: long-distance. While he was in Chicago the whole time, I was in Seoul, South Korea for almost one year, then Washington, DC for another year before we got married.
We were friends before we started dating, so it wasn’t like I was talking to a complete stranger. But long-distance relationships are definitely not easy, and I wouldn’t willfully wish it upon anyone. Still, if you were to ask me now, “Would you do it again?”. I’d reply, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
1. You make communication a top priority.
The time difference was not kind when trying to make communication a top priority. I was literally on the other side of world when I was in Seoul. Life in Seoul is fast-paced (think New York City), and the city comes alive at night. My work schedule was also different. I worked from 2pm-10pm, so I often stayed out late, which was also totally normal living in Seoul. But it made communicating with my then-husband very difficult. Sometimes I was out when he would call me. It didn’t help that I didn’t have a smartphone at the time, so him making a call meant that he was using money to dial an international number, even if it was just a few cents. Since each day was a toss-up of what our schedules might look like, we eventually had to work it out so that at the end of each conversation, we make a planned time to talk… and we made sure we kept it.
In addition to talking on the phone, we also messaged and videochatted with each other. I wouldn’t have minded sending letters, but international mail is super confusing.
Anyway, the main point is that communication should always be a top priority, but especially when you’re long-distance, you need to be intentional about it.
2. You learn how to yearn.
When we decided to “date”, and start getting to know each other seriously, it was over google chat. We had to wait another five months before we could see each other in person. After that, it was another six months. Then another five. Then another four. Then two. Then we were married.
During the periods of time when we were apart, it was like agony! But in that time apart, we were able to learn how to yearn for each other. I always got butterflies in my stomach whenever we saw each other at the airport. I got nervous when I had to learn how to hug him again. I anxiously waited for his phone calls. I would listen to his voice messages just so I could hear his voice whenever I wanted.
When was the last time you yearned for your husband/wife? Perhaps on your drive home from work? When s/he goes away for a weekend with friends?
Now that we’re married, I feel that I’ve forgotten how to yearn for my husband. There are some days when I miss him terribly. But then I remember that I’ll see him in a few hours, and maybe I just want some “me” time. It’s difficult especially if your spouse is also your co-worker. But even in those moments that you are apart, learn to yearn for him.
3.You have time for yourself and others.
When I got into dating relationships, I was one of those people who would disappear from the face of the planet. Because I was spending every single, possible minute with my boyfriend. Remember? In high school, you walk each other to classes, eat lunch together, “study” together. In college, you walk to classes together, purposely sign up for the same courses, “study” together. Even as adults, you want to spend every waking moment you’re not working or commuting with your significant other. And why wouldn’t you? I don’t blame you. But when you’re in a relationship, you’re still your own person. And you still have family and other friends who value their relationships with you.
What I regret from my high school and college dating days is that I spent so much isolated time with that boyfriend, and not enough with my friends. To make matters worse, my friends would even call me out on it, but I ignored them! So when we eventually broke up, I lost a lot of good friends along the way.
In a long-distance relationship, you end up spending more physical time with others than with your significant other. So you still have time to work on becoming the best “you” you can be. Hanging out with friends and investing in those friendships. You don’t become a hermit. You don’t disappear.
Even as I’m married now, a little bit of time apart is good every now and then. For example, when my husband went on an 8-day camping trip to Wyoming with his buddies, I spent some of that time on my own. But I also made the intentional effort to organize a spa party with a handful of ladies. I am so glad I did that, because as much as I love my alone time, I know that investing in the party and in the ladies’ lives was far better than sitting on the couch and watching Neflix.
I’m sure there are still many more lessons I could have learned or did learn and haven’t verbalized. But I’d love to hear from you and your experiences.
Have you been in (or are currently in) a long-distance relationship? What are some valuable lessons you learned or are learning now?