Long distance has plagued our marriage many times. Every time it has been a real struggle. Most likely because the first time was only 2 weeks after we fell in love. And most recently was a miscarriage and emergency surgery while Ben was away on business travel. It is from these experiences though, we have learned how to make the best of the distance when it comes.
Long distance does not have to be the end of your relationship. The distance present unique challenges and we can be intentional and choose to make the best of it in these ways.
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Long Distance Relationship at the Beginning
Not long after ringing in the New Year, I watched the love of my life drive away. The tears streamed down our eyes and we must have said goodbye a hundred times by that point. As quickly as the whirlwind of our love began, he had to leave. And I was left behind. When we would talk next, we did not know. We had no idea what our future held. All we knew was we were in love and no matter what, we would make it through our first major obstacle as a new couple.
Moments after he left, I had a deep longing that nestled itself alongside the newly formed deep love in my heart. It left no sign that it would be departing any time soon.
Not long before Ben and I met, he had joined the Army. He came for visit around Christmas and it was then we knew we were meant to be together. Ben asked me to wait for him with the promise we would get married. Of course, the answer was yes.
Long Distance Blues
Every day that he was gone was a struggle. I was depressed and sluggishly went through the daily motions of life. He was all I could think about. I shut myself in. It felt as if time was stalled and although the sun rose and set, the days felt long and I felt so alone.
The distance was excruciating for us.
I was only able to talk to him over the phone on occasion. We spent time writing letters back and forth. Even today, nearly 15 years later, I can see the letters and hold them but I cannot bring myself to read them. They are too painful and I fall apart even thinking about that time.
Long Awaited Long Distance Reunion
What I do enjoy remembering was getting the call that he was home. I jumped in my car and drove to where he was living, just a state away. Seeing him made my heart soar and it was as if no time had passed at all. We were together and that was all that mattered.
There have been many other times we have been apart for extended periods of time. Jobs have pulled us away for weeks on end and various travels have also caused times of long distance. Every time we have pulled through and become even stronger.
That first time, I did not use the time and space between as graciously as I should have. Since then though, we have both grown and learned what we believe to be the critical elements to overcoming long distance within a relationship.
On my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not.
-Song of Solomon 3:1
This passage in the exciting and passionate book of Song of Solomon (read it HERE! It is steamy!) reveals the longing of the Shepherdess for her beloved to return for her. He is a shepherd and is tending his flock somewhere far enough away that she is unable to visit him. Imagine: no cell phones or WiFi to keep them connected! She longs so deeply to be with him that this longing carries over into a dream which is what follows in the next verses.
Long Distance Woman Seeking Beloved
In this passage, the word “sought” means seeking, desiring, and striving after. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be the reason for someone to seek, desire, and strive after? Sounds so lovely! When I hear that she was striving after him, I get the picture that she was working or tending to her daily responsibilities (she had a flock as well) in a way that would pass the time quickly. That she would continue to look over the horizon to see sign of him. At night, perhaps she waited for the knock that would announce his return.
When the verse says “the one her soul loves” it is referring to a love so deep it involves her whole being, her body, mind and heart. He is the one for her!
I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not.
Song of Solomon 3:2
We can also see in this passage much anxiety. Without being able to text each other, she had to trust he would return as promised. It takes it toll on her. She begins looking around again. Her reality is he is not there and she longs for him. She does not know when he will return for her. The desperation in this passage reveals that being apart over a long period of time (or even a short period for some) is difficult. It can often consume our thoughts, ruin our mood, and even cause contempt toward our spouse.
The watchmen found me as they went about in the city. “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her who conceived me.’
Song of Solomon 3:3-4
After she asks around to see if anyone has seen him, minutes later he arrives. When the couple meet again, the Shepherdess embraces the Shepherd and does not let him go until she has him safely back home.
The push and pull of anxiety and excitement in this passage really captures what it is like to be away from our spouse for long periods. Here is a snapshot of what the Shepherdess went through:
There is the struggle of the day to day tasks still needing completed.
The anxiety about what each other are doing while being apart.
The loneliness of missing them which feels heightened at night.
The longing to be with the other person.
The anticipation of seeing and embracing them again.
The excitement of the reunion.
Making Long Distance Easier
Decide on and schedule a time to talk in private to each other every day. Take this time to catch each other up on the day and have real discussions. Refrain from having the conversation about how difficult it is to be apart outside of this time as much as possible.
What were the challenges? What were the triumphs? Also, tell each other what you miss about each other. Ben and I have found that in the evening before bed worked best for us.
2. Send an “I’m thinking of you and missing you” gift
Take the time to do something special for each other while you are apart. When I was traveling for work and had to be gone for about a month, Ben had flowers delivered to my hotel room. It was so special!
3. Secret item in their suitcase or left behind
Pack something in their suitcase they can hold and think of you. If you are the one leaving home, leave something special behind for them. If it smells like your perfume/cologne that is a bonus. Ben and I used small stuffed animals.
4. Reassure each other
Be intentional in your texts or conversations to your spouse about being with people of the opposite sex. Let your spouse know that you will be at a social event and who you will be with. The mind can play tricks when emotions are high. Guard yourself and your relationship by not spending time alone with a member of the opposite sex. If every one except the one that has their eye on you bails, you bail, too and FAST! Ben was invited to go on a date with a woman while he was on a work trip, I felt honored and loved when he told her no way.
5. Anticipate the reunion
Schedule time to visit each other at least once a month if the long distance is long term. Consider ways to take your spouse along if possible. Make a big commotion when you are together again. Let this be a joyous occasion; a time for reconnecting and healing. Share some of the things that you enjoyed while being apart and make them feel like they were with you all along. Let them also know how much you thought of them and missed them. Ben and I like to spend time together catching up and re-acquainting at home, then we go do something fun outside of the house for a date.
Doing these can ensure that the relationship does not suffer while there is distance and keep both parties connected intimately on every other level than physically. With fulfillment in the other areas, the physical connection can be really special.
Begin today and this guide will help you discover how to lighten the burden distance puts on your relationship Couple’s Guide: HERE
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Share your comments!
What do you do when you are traveling to help your spouse feel missed, important and loved?
When your spouse leaves, what do you do from home to ensure they feel missed, important, and loved?
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