The first year of marriage is hard. From learning the little quirks of your spouse by living together to navigating through your first big fight, there are ups and downs every new couple faces. For my husband and me, we added a few hundred miles of distance into this mix. I am in what you would call a "long distance marriage." My husband plays minor league baseball, which means we live separate for more than half of the year. Before we got married, we both decided that I would continue chasing my dreams, and he would continue chasing his, from different states.
They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and it is seriously true. We first started to see how challenging this was going to be when we tried to schedule pre-martial counseling with our pastor in the months leading up to our wedding. We were both a bit stumped on how we could make this work from different states. Our pastor suggested we complete pre-martial counseling via Skype; something I did not even think was possible, or would be accepted by the church. Sure enough, a few weeks later, we logged into Skype, along with our pastor, to discuss ways to build a happy, healthy marriage from a distance. This was the first time I realized that non-traditional relationships were not as taboo as they used to be. Remember the days of your friend telling you it will never work out, well, it seems today that the long distance relationship is losing its negative stigma.
According to a study done back in 2013, three million Americans live apart from their spouses (for reasons other than divorce or separation). So how does it all work? Is it possible to have a healthy, thriving marriage from a distance? The answer is yes.
We support each other's dreams. Both my husband I have big dreams, neither of us wanted to give them up in order to live in the same state once we got married. Since my husband lives out of his suitcase for most of the year, it makes it hard to "settle" in any given area. While our situation is not ideal for newlyweds, we are learning that the distance and mutual respect for each other's work ethic and drive has actually brought us closer.
You have "me" time. In any relationship, it is important to take time for yourself. In a long distance relationship, oftentimes, you are alone for long periods of time, so it allows you to gain independence. Gaining independence can build your relationship stronger as a couple. Regardless of your living situation, finding time for yourself is extremely important for your mental health.
We realize we cannot plan for everything. Since I am a control freak, I would love to plan every detail of every day, but in my reality, the whole planning thing goes out the window in the world of baseball. Living without a 5-year plan is something I have grown accustomed to. With that being said, my husband and I still set goals and make sure to "check in" with each other on our progress.
The Power of FaceTime. With the ability to video chat, Skype, and FaceTime, I do not go a day without "seeing" my husband. It provides us with the "face time" (no pun intended) that we need to feel connected to each other. This new technology allows us to stay present in each other's lives. While our FaceTime schedule depends on bullpens and baseball games, we always make time for each other regardless if it is at 5:00 a.m. or midnight.
Every time we reunite it's like a vacation. On average, I usually see my husband about once a month, which means we make the most out of our time together, every time. Instead of spending time arguing or disagreeing, we spend it enjoying each other's company and talking about what is new in our worlds.
We keep things in perspective. I will not lie and say that a long distance marriage is easy, it is not. However, we are able to stay grounded and keep things in perspective by thinking about the military families who are separated from their loved ones for months, or even years at a time. If you are wondering who the strongest participants of long distance love are...look to these military families, we could all learn something from them.
In the words of Winnie the Pooh, "How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard" Long distance relationships are challenging, but when with the right person, are so very rewarding.