Long Distance Relationships: A Survival Guide

As individuals, we find ourselves, in a great degree, defined by the relationships we maintain; birds of a feather so to speak. The internet may have forever changed the landscape of communication but it has in no way changed those internal mechanisms that cause us to relate one to another. The gears of a soul will always lock in place with those to whom they fit. One wheel will always turn another to some degree.

This principal of course is what makes a relationship. After all, if you remove the ‘relate’ from relationship then your pretty much just left with a ‘ship’: a wandering soul in an ocean of emptiness. While it is possible to develop and maintain levels of friendships over long distances, our closest relationships are often more demanding in terms of physical presence, especially those of a husband & wife. The separation of partners is often overbearing both physically and mentally.True Love

Nobody [in their right mind] wants a long distance relationship. It is often something that is born as a necessary evil. It is most commonly the plight of those who marry overseas and often the plight of those who need to work outside their own country for survival. Jennifer and I must deal with the stresses of the circumstance as we begin the toilsome immigration process. Physically speaking, there are over 8000 miles between us.

The first few days were, I’m certain, fairly easy for the both of us. We found ourselves preoccupied with our travels; Jennifer heading back alone to Panay Island from Luzon (her second time in an airplane and her first trip alone) and myself flying on to Taipei, California and then to Texas. By the time the plane lands and you make your way to your destination, you’re too exhausted to feel much of anything except your own weariness. With the hustle and bustle of taking journeys, you have less time to stop and think about how you feel.

As the days progress onward though, you start to feel more and more of the separation anxiety. It is an inescapable stress found in the daily routine of everything. Such anxieties hammer my mind as I cook my meals or do my laundry; those are burdens Jennifer so graciously took from me while we were together and the conversations you share during those moments can not be duplicated over the phone or in emails. It is no surprise that many long distance relationships do not last; the anvil of time beats down rather hard [especially on weak souls].

There is only one way to survive a long distance relationship: we must take the daily ties that bound us and learn to tie them differently. Your communications, your affections, and your emotions must all be handled differently when distance comes in to the play. Those who do not relearn to tie such things in a new way will find the binding knots of their relationship completely unraveled! Despite the hurdles, it can be done. After all, if you love each other, the ties that bound you in the first place are still there.

Jenn & I seem to have developed a natural routine and for that I’m thankful. Her bed time is almost the same as my wake-up time so we text each other in those moments, sharing any of the latest happenings and bidding each other a good morning/good night. The regular texting coupled with the weekly phone calls keeps us emotionally focused. The real life-saver (at least for me) is the web-cam chat sessions. Thank God Sara has internet cafes!

I try to be careful with phrases such as ‘I miss you’ and ‘I need you here with me before I go crazy’. Such statements are very true but one must exercise caution: don’t pound loneliness into the relationship. Expressions of that manner can be overstated to the detriment of the relationship. You’re already separated [emotionally speaking], there’s no need to remind each other of that fact every ten seconds or you will go crazy! Emotional conversations are important and healthy but they also have to be tempered with your day to day life and the goals you are trying to accomplish.

Topping everything off, the ultimate survival strategy in a LDR is commitment. It must be present in you. It must be kept alive. It must be communicated. Without commitment, long distance relationships will last no longer than the depth of emotions that brought you together. Pools of water will evaporate if they are not refilled. The more you work to maintain and protect that commitment, the easier it will be to bear the burdens of distance.

I hate to bash an old cliche but absence does not make the heart grow fonder. You make the heart grow fonder and, in doing so, you overcome the temptation of petty jealousies, misunderstandings and the weariness of time. Though it is necessary to be separated for a season, take comfort in knowing that when you are together again, the fires of love & passion are still burning strong.

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