Distance doesn't have to be a dealbreaker.
Nowhere in your marriage vows, between “better and worse” and “sickness and health”, is there a clause that says “‘til death—or an inconvenient distance—do us part.” Marital life requires the endurance of all kinds of hardships, and surviving long-distance partnership, while difficult, is not necessarily a dealbreaker. In fact, there are plenty of gloriously happy marriages maintained between partners with separate home bases. And while not ideal for all couples, it’s certainly a plenty solid option for many.
Since 2000, the frequency with which married couples live apart has risen 44% according to Census data. While that doesn’t necessarily refer specifically to couples in long-distance marriages (other reasons for marital distance include incarcerations or nursing home residency), these folks do make up a large constituency. Simply put, this is not abnormal. And for lots of people, it works.
In fact, if we’ve learned anything from prolonged periods of quarantine in our respective states, intimacy with friends, family, and partners is possible from a distance, courtesy of modern technology. The miracle that is Facetime can’t replace real-life conversation, but the ability to communicate, face to face, with frequency can do a great deal to promote trust and routine with a partner you rarely earn the opportunity to actually share a space with.
And beyond the holy video chat, experts have a number of tips for keeping remote marriage situations as strong and healthy as their cohabitating counterparts.
Keep Plans On The Calendar
Planning travel back and forth can be difficult, but to keep both of you content, it’s somewhat essential that you make a point of having tangible dates for when you’ll next find yourselves face to face. Give yourselves something to look forward to, eternally. Whether that’s weeks spent in the same home or vacations together, know that you’re scheduling a major part of your time around one another.
At a distance, it can be tempting to spend your on-the-phone time going over larger matters of import, whether that’s mortgage payments, children’s schooling, or questions of health insurance. That said—good news or otherwise—one of the ways you can feel consistently close to your partner is by way of sharing details. Text or call about what you’re eating for dinner, what meme made you laugh today, what you wore this morning. Share minor anecdotes. Bring your partner into the small details of your own life—and ask the same of them.
Whether you maintain respective residences or your separation occurs on shorter terms, displaying photos of the two of you together is a smart, tangible way to remind yourself that your partner is at the center of your life — even if not always in the flesh.
Watch Films & Television Shows
This may seem small and menial but one part of strengthening a marriage that occurs in separate spaces is ensuring that you still maintain routines together. Keep up to date on the same shows, watch movies in tandem, discuss them frequently. Even from far away, it’s a simple means of intertwining your worlds.
Use Your Time Wisely
Maybe you see each other once a month. Maybe once a year. Maybe more, maybe less. All the same, it can feel important to devote a large chunk of this time to practical matters. It’s likely that there are papers to sign, bank matters to discuss, family events to plan around. But before you get yourselves knee-deep in the necessary, prosaic duties, be sure to spend some time taking pleasure in one another. This is your partner. Do something romantic, spend some quality time, partake, to the best of your abilities, in activities you both love. Remind yourselves why your relationship remains as special as ever, even if it operates in two separate geographic locations.