Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? Were you able to maintain your strong bond, or did the distance end up breaking the relationship? There are many couples who must end up in a long distance relationship for many reasons. Some of them have to go abroad to work so that they can support their families and give them a better future. There are also many who go for their studies abroad so that they have a more global education. Others simply migrate to find greener pastures.
In my case, my husband migrated to Canada five years ago to work so that he could give our family a much better future than he could if he were to work here in the Philippines. As a result, we have had to make our long distance relationship work, and until today, we are happily married with two children. In fact, in a few months, he will be returning to the Philippines, and we will go with him to live a new life in Vancouver, Canada.
According to Helen Keller, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” She is absolutely right. The things we value in life are not material things, but the love that we have for our loved ones. Even long distance cannot separate two people who are truly in love. Now, I would like to show you how my husband and I maintained a strong relationship despite our long distance.
1. The first way to keep your love alive is to have patience with each other. When you are thousands of miles away from each other, it can be very frustrating because when you want to talk, it will be very difficult not only because you are in different countries, but also due to time zone differences. Sometimes, you are available because it is daytime, but he is unavailable because he is already sleeping to get a good rest for a long hard day at work the next morning. As a result, you tend to get irritated because you can’t talk to each other right away to inform him or her about your needs and wants. If you do not have patience for each other, you can easily be annoyed, and when this happens, the tendency is for you to give up because of all that negative feeling you have inside of you. The more you become negative, the more you ignore your loved one, and eventually, you just resent each other.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” At first, when I couldn’t reach my husband, I didn’t mind because I knew that he had a different schedule. I was available to talk to him in the afternoon, but he was already sleeping. I wanted to talk to him about our kids and our finances, but I just couldn’t reach him. But I understood, and I had the patience to wait until midnight when he wakes up. Sure, there were times when I got angry and frustrated, but I managed to be more patient than impatient. At the same time, he was also very patient with me because he knew that I was taking care of our two kids, and he wasn’t here to help. So it takes two people to be patient with each other in order to make the relationship work. Now, ask yourself, do you have that kind of patience?
2. Another “must do” in order to maintain a strong relationship despite long distance is to have good communication. It is very easy to skip talking to each other because of distance and time zone differences. You can set a time to speak to each other, and make sure that you follow through. In addition, communication means being able to express yourself so that the other person would know what you think and how you feel. If you hide your feelings and thoughts, the other person might not know what to do or expect. When this happens, you have a breakdown in communication. Communication breaks down especially when you have an argument or a misunderstanding because you tend not to talk to each other anymore. However, it is important that you continue to talk to each other so that the resentment doesn’t get any bigger.
For example, my husband and I make sure that we would talk every Sunday since that is the time we are both available. I know that he gets busy on the weekdays, but we have decided that Sunday is our day together no matter what. When I was sad, I told him that I missed a lot, and I cried. It was important for me to express this to let him know how much we missed him. He also tells me about his problems and his feelings, and I feel that he still needs me. Despite our distance, we open our lines of communication by expressing ourselves, and it feels as if we are next to each other.
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”
― Henry Winkler
3. Most importantly, you must have an understanding heart. Understanding means you know why you are not together, why you can’t talk to each other all the time, why he made a decision you couldn’t accept at first, why he can’t come home right away, why he can’t send more money, why he is out with others at night, or why he is so tired. At first, you wouldn’t understand, but if you put yourself in his shoes, you eventually learn that life on the other side is also difficult, especially when you don’t have your love one beside you. Understanding doesn’t mean that you accept everything; it just means that you open your heart so that you would be more knowledgeable, more caring, and more forgiving. And when this happens, you become more loving.
For example, after so many years, I can finally understand why I had to be separated from my husband. Yes, he did come and visit only once, and waiting for him was so difficult. I didn’t understand why he only came once. Now I realize, that things do happen for a reason. Sometimes, God makes you see things only in the end, not during the trials. I had to learn to understand without questioning so much in order for my heart not to have a heavy burden. I had to understand that my husband was only doing his best for us, and I put my trust in him. Now, in a few months, we will all be reunited here in the Philippines, and of course, in Canada when we go together.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
― Marie Curie
There may come a point in time when we are separated from the ones we love. In order to ensure that we do not get separated from their minds and hearts, we must have the courage to face the struggles of long distance relationships. With patience, communication, and understanding, we are more prepared and ready to deal with any obstacles. Make sure that when difficulties arise, you would also pray for guidance, and you will be stronger to face the difficulties together.