3 Things I’ve Learned From My Long Distance Marriage

My husband and I have what some might call a non-traditional relationship…

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We were high school sweethearts who ended up going to different colleges and managed to keep the relationship together. You might be thinking what’s non-traditional about that? Well, let me tell you. After graduating from college my husband, then my bf, got a job in our home state of NJ and I went to get my masters degree in D.C. at George Washington University.   About a year and a half into my two-year program, we got married with the intent that I would move back home after graduation. I then got accepted into a Ph.D. program in Georgia. I moved to Georgia with the idea that he would get a job in Georgia and be down within a year. I knew job searching might take some time and we weren’t strangers to long distance, so what were a few more months, right?

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Well after not being able to find adequate employment in Georgia, what seems like a million arguments, many visits and 4 years, we still hadn’t moved in together. We were coming up on our 5th year of marriage and I was coming toward the end of my Ph.D. journey. We just moved in together full time for the first time after our 5-year anniversary in October after I wrapped up the research portion of my Ph.D. I tell this story to say that I could probably be considered an “expert” in long distance relationships and marriages since I did both for a cumulative total of 12 years. So when #CiteASista asked me to write a post on what I have learned through all of this, I couldn’t really say no, could I?

But first, a caveat: Neither me nor my marriage are anywhere near perfect. There’s still a lot of room left to grow as flawed human beings… 

Nevertheless, here are the top 3 things I’ve learned from my long distance marriage/relationship:

First: Communication is king, queen, prince, and princess:

Createherstock Black Love Neosha Gardner 62When you are in a long distance relationship communication is the most abundant resource at your disposal. Between Facetime, texting and phone calls you can ALMOST forget your significant other is thousands of miles away. But this goes deeper than you think. I was a person that relied heavily on facial cues and body language to gauge the tone of a conversation, but that isn’t always an option when long distance. Over time, I have been able to hear the subtlest changes in tone and have a general idea what my husband is feeling and so can he.

Second: Everything isn’t meant to be said: My husband and I would call each other at least 3x a day while long distance, in addition to texting and occasional video chats. Our arguments would get pretty vicious and when the only thing you have at your disposal is words…. let’s just say mine have surgical precision if I’m trying to hurt your feelings. But words also cut deep and when you can’t rely on physical closeness to help bridge the gap after an argument you realize that everything you say has a LONG LASTING effect. Over the years I have learned that even though I’m probably right and I could really win the argument by saying a bunch of true but not nice things, in the long run, its not worth it. Some of my friends can tell you this was a HARD learned lesson.

DSC M29Third: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: Let’s be honest here, marriage is hard AF. Married people who live together get into their fair share of arguments but at least they have make-up sex to fall back on. Long distance marriage is HARD. SUPER HARD. It’s not for the faint of heart. But I really feel like through all the rough patches of our long distance marriage we really have come through better people and stronger in terms of our relationship for it. Between learning how to fight fair (most of the time), understanding that communication is gold in any relationship and enduring not seeing each other every day, I feel like I cherish being with my husband, even more, now than I would have if we would have done things more traditionally.

BONUS! Its O.K. to do your own thing: I was only asked for 3 things so I’ll be quick. Being long distance through the majority of my relationship has allowed me to continue to grow myself as a person, foster invaluable friendships and do my own thing A LOT. Now, I can do things with my spouse and enjoy it, but I cherish the time with friends because they had my back when he wasn’t around and really became a great support system. I know it is easy to get wrapped up in your romantic relationships but friendships are SO important. It is 100% ok to reserve time for your crew and have your own interests and hobbies that don’t include your spouse.

Ok, that’s my $.02 about long-distance marriages. Are you in a long distance marriage/ relationship? Thinking about starting one? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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