JOY42

How We Make Long Distance Work For Us

MarriageHannah Drake

Photo: Brianne Haagenson Photography

I've been in a long distance relationship for five months now. (Plus two and a half months of talking and getting to know each other.) Of course we talk as much as possible. We text (on WhatsApp) throughout the day, call when we can, and set aside time to Skype almost every day. Skyping especially helps the relationship because we're able to see each other and talk face-to-face. (Any of the "big" stuff or "hard" stuff we discuss on Skype, not on text.) We try to see each other as much as possible, but so far we've only spent 24 days together throughout our entire relationship, with one more trip scheduled for next month.

People ask me all the time how we make it work and the first thing that I tell them is that talking makes all the difference in the world. But that's obvious, isn't it? However, we both agree that the amount of time we spend talking has helped us move our relationship along faster than in past relationships. For example, if we lived nearby and we went to a movie together, we'd spend 3 hours together, but we wouldn't talk much. For us, 3 hours together means 3 hours of quality conversation. The only tricky part is that he's 7 hours ahead of me, but we've fallen into a routine nonetheless.

There are a few things that we do together that I think make all the difference in our relationship and allow us to have the same type of intimacy that couples who aren't long distance can experience while going out on dates or talking over dinner.

1) We have date nights. We schedule evenings (for him, afternoons for me) to watch a movie together. We'll pick a movie beforehand to make sure we can both watch it, count down from 3 and hit play simultaneously so we can sync up the movie and listen to one audio. We've been going through both of our top 5 favorite movies list, but since he went back to England last week, we've continued watching The Office (US), which we started while he was visiting.

2) We check in. It's something that I learned at my church a year and a half ago. You focus on what you're feeling and identify your feelings into 6 primary emotions: sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, tender. We identify the feeling and explain why we're feeling it. This really helps us to communicate not only about our emotions, but also about what we experienced throughout the day. Our goal for this year is to include ways we can pray for each other in that same conversation as well.

3) We bought a candle together. While he was here, we went to Target and picked out a candle that we both liked. We bought two of them so he could take one back with him. We light them both at the exact same time and blow them out at the exact same time. Maybe it sounds kind of silly, but at least for me, it makes me feel more connected to him if we can smell the same scent in the room while we Skype. He gets bonus points for suggesting it because I think it's just the sweetest thing in the world.

I think other than those things, we do regularly long distance relationship type things. We count down until we can see each other again. We plan our future trips together. And we hope for a day when we aren't long distance anymore. (Although we're not exactly sure yet when that day might be.) All I know is that this is the best relationship I've ever been in and he is worth every single time my heart aches to be near him or every tear that he can't wipe away.