If there’s one thing I know a little something about, it’s long-distance relationships.
My husband and I were on separate continents throughout most of the time we were dating/ engaged. Since we’ve gotten married and happily left those long-distance days behind us, my husband’s work has taken him away frequently and at times unexpectedly.
Being separated from the one you love is tough, there’s just no way around it. Contrary to what you might think, the experiences we’ve had while apart have also been filled with hidden blessings— and even the hardest of separations has taught us a lot. We certainly haven’t perfected the art of loving each other well while we’re apart, but we have learned a lot through our days/weeks/months of separation that have helped it to seem like less of a burden!
1.) Your attitude is EVERYTHING.
Having a great can-do-it attitude when your spouse is gone is way easier said than done. It’s ok to complain, it’s ok to miss them, it’s ok to get frustrated at the distance— all of those negative emotions are there because you love and miss each other! At the end of the day though, it’s also important to strive to see a greater purpose in your circumstances. Any challenge in your relationship can make you stronger or tear you apart depending upon how you approach it.
2.) But do have grace for one another when you’re feeling negative
While it IS important to remain hopeful when you’re dealing with frequent absences, it’s also important to be genuine. Being honest with your spouse about how their absence is hard for you is a good thing! Even if it sometimes takes the form of complaining/venting sometimes.
3.) Actually, have grace all around
Being apart from one another is hard— and oftentimes, it’s harder on one spouse than the other. For us, I’m usually the one left behind while my husband is going away for work. While he doesn’t enjoy being apart from us, he’s also busy with a job he loves and engaged with his coworkers. Meanwhile I’m at home with the days stretched out before me and a toddler who misses her daddy. Subsequently, I work to be happy for the (usually really awesome) adventures he gets to have, and he works to remember all that I’m doing at home. We try to have grace for when the other one is struggling with their role.
4.) Think of each other while you’re apart
That probably sounds a bit ridiculous, because sometimes the difficult part is distracting yourself when they are gone. Other times, it’s easy to get into your routine and forget to pause and wonder, how was their day? What are they up to right now? It helps to keep the romance alive!
5.) Use your time apart well
You can sit around figuring out how to make dinner for one when your spouse is gone (if you’re like me, it’ll be grilled cheese) and watching Netflix… Or you can make good use of that time. Go out to dinner with friends, skype your sister, take a few trips to that evening workout class you never seem to make it to, read the book that’s been on your list for forever! Time apart can free up your schedule to focus on some things that you’re normally too busy for— find ways to make the time meaningful instead of trying to pass the time quickly.
If you have children and feel like your spouse’s absence requires a superhuman amount of work, this is still important. Remember to ask for help where it’s needed— even if it’s a few kid-free hours to run a few errands!
6.) Figure out some thoughtful gestures that can be done from afar
Send a care package, arrange to have flowers delivered, tuck sweet notes or favorite snacks into their bags, send texts and emails and pictures of the kids— a simple act can mean a lot.
7.) Find other couples who are going through the same thing
It is wonderful to have a community of friends who can sympathize with your plight! Lots of people deal with periods of separation, and while your exact circumstances may differ, you can still offer one another support. Just be careful to avoid the bizarre competition of “who has it tougher”/ “who’s spouse is gone more”— that doesn’t lead anywhere helpful. Besides, these people also make great hangout buddies (when your spouse is gone and otherwise!) 🙂
The best possible outcome of spending time apart is that the time you have together becomes more meaningful. Of course, there will still be work to be done, bills to pay, dishes to wash, and errands to run when your spouse comes home. But as often as possible when you’re together, make time to just enjoy one another— even if it means letting a few things slide.
How have you weathered being apart from your spouse? Have you learned ways to help ease the burden a bit? I’d love to hear!