Has it been a month already! If you missed the earlier Table Talk Tuesday posts, you can find them here. One question I get asked a lot is how my husband and I had such a successful long distance relationship. I have 4 tips I’ll be sharing that really helped us keep our relationship strong along the way.
Relationships, whether they are with family members, friends, or a significant other, may seem like hard work, but I think they just take time, love, and effort. You have to put in the time and effort to grow and keep your relationships strong, and long-distance relationships take a little more effort because you don’t see each other that often.
Just so you know, we met when I was fourteen, dated throughout high school and college, and have been married for four years. Our long distance relationship lasted six years, and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t always easy. We had our ups and downs, and we had disagreements along the way. However, what’s important is how you resolve your disagreements and how you spend your time together when you’re not arguing.
My husband and I base our relationship on 4 primary principals: faith, trust, respect, and communication. I’ll touch on some of these points later, but for now, let’s talk about communication. The key to communicating effectively is to not be misunderstood. We all want to be understood and know that our partner gets what we are trying to say, so being clear and direct can be very helpful.
One thing we like to do when we communicate, especially when we are having a serious conversation, is to paraphrase what the other person was saying. This helps us know that we’re both on the same page. Many times my husband and I will think we communicated effectively, but then he does one thing and I do another. When we realize we didn’t communicate very well, we take that as a learning opportunity and ask each other “what could I have done differently?” Understanding where the communication barrier occurred will help prevent miscommunications in the future.
Trust Is Key
Trust is the foundation of any relationship and if you don’t trust the person you’re with, you will find that your relationship won’t be very strong. One of the biggest concerns most people have when they’re in a long distance relationship, is “what if my boyfriend cheats on me” or “I’m worried my boyfriend will find someone else he likes more”. Both of these are possibilities and legitimate concerns. Here are a few questions to keep in mind:
- Has your partner cheated on you before? If not, why do you think he/she will start now?
- Has your partner ever lied to you? If they have and it still bothers you, let them know and talk about what you both can do to move forward.
- Have you lied or cheated, and is that what’s keeping you from trusting your partner?
While being faithful is very important, trust goes beyond that. It’s about being open and transparent. Trust is about doing what you said you were going to do, when you said you would do it. It’s about being dependable and following through. These are all components and building blocks to having a successful relationship.
Make a Visit Schedule
It can be really hard when you’re hours away from your partner, so making a visit schedule shows commitment and gives you both something to look forward to. It also helps you plan, prioritize, and balance everything else you have going on. When my husband and I started college, we visited each other once a month. We talked about how the visit schedule was working, and eventually decided to do every three weeks, and towards the end of college, every other week. Take turns visiting each other because this shows that you are both equally committed. Here are some other things you can do when you’re not visiting each other:
- Set time aside every day to catch up and share what you did—share your highs and lows
- Call each other when you have little breaks throughout the day just to say hi
- Sending sweet texts is nice when you can’t pick up the phone
- Spend 15-30 min. before bed catching up or just to say goodnight. Facetime or video chat is great for this.
Remember, find a schedule that works for you and your partner, so you have time to be together but also be apart and spend time with friends. You want to grow individually while also growing together, so make the most of your time apart and cherish your time together.
Share Your Feelings
We all want to be understood and know that our feelings are being heard. In order for that to happen, you need to 1.) be self-aware and understand your own feelings and 2.) communicate your feelings with your partner. We all have different ways of expressing ourselves and our feelings, but some may be more effective than others.
If you’re having a bad day, it’s easy to project those feelings onto your partner or be moody or passive aggressive. Let your partner know that you’re not in a good mood and need some time alone. Once you’re feeling a little better, I think it’s always best to share what put you in a bad mood, especially if it was something they did. The worst thing you can do is say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” This will put a little distance between you two and it isn’t very good communication, which as I mentioned is key!
While this post is geared towards long-distance relationships, I think these tips can be used with any type of relationship. Let me know what you think, and if you have any suggestions for future Table Talk Tuesday posts. Would you like to see more of these types of posts on a more regular basis? I’d love to hear from you!