Long Distance Relationships can be tough. But with a little bit of work and creativity, we’re showing you How To Stay Emotionally Connected In A Long Distance Relationship.
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Guest Post by: Emma Hall
Nearly six years we’ve been married, and my Marine husband and I have been long distance nearly half of them. I was only with him in person two weeks during our engagement—the rest was long distance. In high school, we were often long distance.
At this point, it’s second nature.
We’re nearly three months into a deployment this holiday season, and we’ll be celebrating Christmas together but from afar. It’s hard enough to stay connected when you’re apart on a day-to-day basis, and even more challenging during special times where we’re supposed to be with loved ones.
How can you stay connected to someone you love when you can’t reach out and touch them? When they’re a phone call away instead of across the table? When you’re battling lethargy because you miss them? When you’re dealing with time zones and schedules and suddenly “the little things” are no longer simple?
There’s no formula to make a long distance relationship work and I won’t lie to you—it’s not easy. But neither it is impossible or miserable or hopeless. In fact, many times our marriage has been strongest during our times apart because we could focus on nothing except communication.
Long distance relationships can be beautiful and fulfilling and meaningful—But it won’t happen accidentally. It takes commitment, effort, and a few extra skills.
Related Post: Long Distance Relationship Games To Try
1. Figure Out Their Love Language.
If you’ve never learned about your partner’s love language, now is the time. There are five love languages: acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, and physical touch. My love languages are acts of service and quality time, which long distance might translate into my husband giving me his full attention on a Skype call and then hiring me a babysitter (hint hint, husband!)
Some languages are more challenging and will require creativity, such as acts of service, since he can’t do your laundry very easily and she can’t cook you an epic meal. If your partners’ love language is physical touch, I would suggest figuring out their secondary love language and focusing on that.
Remember, you and your partner probably don’t have the same love language. Something that makes you feel loved and cherished might not affect them as greatly, so figure out what their love language is, and focus on loving them that way.
Don’t know your love language? Take the quiz here.
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2. Discuss Expectations, Preferably Beforehand.
Are you going to Skype every day? Are you going to text constantly? Are you going to email when you can and set aside intentional time to talk once a week? Will you write letters? It might sound silly or seem awkward, but if one of you expects to be communicating 100% of the time and the other expects only a sweet phone call before bed, someone will end up overwhelmed and the other will be left disappointed and feeling forgotten.
3. Remember They Have A Life Too.
Look, it’s cute if you want to spend every waking moment on the phone together or texting, and if that works for you, then great! But if you have a career or kids or friends or any aspect of your life that requires you not be glued to your phone, you understand that sometimes you have to disconnect.
My husband is working while he’s deployed, and while I’m so thankful we can communicate freely, I can’t be butt hurt if he doesn’t reply to every single one of my text immediately or answer the phone every time I call. Sometimes he’s at the gym, working on his degree, or at lunch with a friend. It’s okay, it doesn’t mean any of those things are more important than me. It’s simply not healthy or sustainable to expect your partner to focus on absolutely nothing except you while you are apart.
There is an important balance between staying connected and living your life where you are in that moment. My husband and I text each other throughout the day and call when we can and it works great, but I do not expect him to drop anything he might be doing just because I’m bored and want to talk to him, although it’s nice that he often does! Making each other a priority is important but don’t let it consume your life. If one of you is stressed because the other one must be talking to you every moment of every day, it will strain your relationship.
4. Give Them Your Full Attention When You Schedule Talking On The Phone.
Or Skype, or Facetime, or whatever. When you do set aside intentional time to talk, make it meaningful. My husband and I quickly learned that if I wanted to call and chat and then spent most of the time talking to my kids, he ended up frustrated and then I was frustrated and we both left unhappy.
Of course, he understands being a parent and we enjoy talking and doing everyday life at the same time, but I needed to communicate that to him. Even just a simple, “Hey, I’d love to call, and by the time I’m in the middle of the breakfast rush. Are you free?” was good enough warning and he was knew what to expect. But the times we planned to talk at 5pm on whatever day and then I spent the entire time running around like a crazy person left him feeling unimportant to me.
5. Don’t Underestimate The Power Of A Few Words.
There’s been more than one time I’ve woken up to a long text from my husband about how much I mean to him or how he misses me or, ahem, some ideas he was thinking about for when he returns. Even just a single sentence: “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you a lot today and I’m so glad you’re in my life and I love you” can totally change how I’m feeling. It’s so nice waking up to words from him letting me know I was on his mind. It takes a couple of moments of your day to type out an email or shoot a text, and then it arrives instantly. Low effort, high impact.
6. Don’t Try To Make Them Guess What You’re Feeling.
Guessing what your partner is feeling on a normal day is hard enough—guessing what your partner is feeling when you can’t read their body language or see their facial expressions is a shot in the dark at best. If you tell them “I’m fine” when you’re not, they may pick up on it, and they may not. If you’re upset with them because they didn’t get it, you might try focusing on making your own communication clearer.
7. Send Snail Mail.
Seriously, what is better than a handwritten letter or a package showing up, especially the type you didn’t order yourself from Amazon? Flat rate domestic shipping is pretty affordable these days, and if your SO happens to be at an APO address, you can send them a large box packed with goodies for $20. Even international shipping isn’t insane, and letters can always be sent for cheap.
If your partner’s love language is gifts, like mine is, packages are especially important. If words of affirmation is their thing, write a letter. Snail mail takes effort and isn’t free, which is why it’s all the more meaningful.
Related Post: Open When Letters For Long Distance Relationships
8. Continue Your Traditions.
My husband’s side of the family is big on stocking stuffers, so this Christmas I mailed him a stocking an about 20 individually gift wrapped snacks so he could open a mini present whenever he was feeling down this holiday season. Snacks cost me $50, shipping was $20, and his joy was priceless.
There’s a TV show we used to watch, and we’d play it at the same time while talking on the phone together—it almost felt like being next to him. It takes creativity to continue traditions when you’re long distance, but it’s a small taste of togetherness.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s practical and learned through experience. We’ve been together ten years total, but never for more than a year at the time without some type of goodbye. For long distance couples, goodbyes are a regular part of life. Goodbye itself never gets easier, but the separation often does.
A strong relationship never happens accidentally, particularly when you add the challenges of being apart.
With a little extra love, you can stay connected emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Your communication will grow, your appreciation of your partner will grow, and distance makes the heart grow fonder, right?
And you can grow until you’ve never ever been stronger, with a rock hard foundation for when you’re reunited.
Oh, how glorious that will be.
Look forward to that day, together.
Until the day you are together once again.
Guest Post By Emma Hall:
Hi, I’m Emma Hall! Mom of three, married to my high school sweetheart, and crazy about Jesus, honeybees, natural health, and building my A-frame. You can find me over at This Redeemed Mama, learning how to balance chaos and simplicity. So nice to meet you, friend.