Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Long Distance Dance

This week Jake and I watched a movie called, “Going the Distance.” It stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long as a new couple tackling the long-distance-relationship-thing. As the movie progressed we found ourselves enjoying how frank and real it seemed to be about this specific type of relationship. Neither of us have been involved in any kind of long-distance affair, so we really don’t know how the whole thing works. “Going the Distance” brought up the whole should you or shouldn't you question, as well as making many good points about toughing it out while living in different places and the many obstacles this entails. (Spoiler alert) At the end it seems to point towards, “Love will win and beat the odds.” Then the two main characters decide it’s just too hard to make work....then they kinda change their minds 6 months later...but not really, they like half change their minds. It’s a weird ending. So Jake and I were left scratching our heads and wondering, “WELL??? What’s the deal? Does long-distance spell doom or can it succeed?

Enter our brother and his girlfriend :) Brother is now deployed in Afghanistan and he and his girlfriend have been dating long-distance for 2 years. She had some super helpful (and we thought very wise) things to say about long-distance relationships and has allowed me to share them! Please read below for her thoughts.
  • “Both people need to be equally committed to making the relationship work. Understand that it won’t be easy, that the other person is flawed and so are you and that the best way to go about things (at least from my experience) is to think about your relationship as long term and the distance as temporary. Also, understand that long distance takes a lot of effort so both parties need to be prepared and aware.
  • Communication is key. You have to make the effort to talk about the little things that go on as well as the big things. The other person does not live your daily routine, so in order to feel like you are deeply engrained in each other’s lives you have to take the time and make the effort to learn about the little details i.e. their feelings, their friends, their job, their classes, their friend’s jobs and classes, etc. Tell them the things you don’t want them to know and say the things that are difficult to say – this is imperative in order to keep their trust. 
  • Skype or talk on the phone. Try to keep texting, emails, instant messaging and even letters to a minimum as far as communication goes, unless you’re dating Mark Twain or Kurt Vonnegut more than likely your tone of voice as well as your facial expressions and your body language will be lost in written communication. I’m not saying don’t write to each other, sometimes you don’t have a choice; just don’t make it your primary method of communication if possible. 
  • God. Don’t expect the other person to be something they are not or have more power than they do. Distance is a part of your relationship and neither of you are in a position to change that right now. I lean on God to get me through the times when I miss the other person and I’ve learned not to go overboard telling them how much I miss them or wish they were here because there’s nothing they can do about it and it can tend to make them feel helpless and inadequate. 
  • Timelines. Try and know when you are going to see the other person again, it helps when you miss the other person to understand that the situation is only temporary and to have a time period you can identify as when you will see them.
  • When you do see the person, try to act like you would if you were always together. Like I said before, your relationship is long term and the distance is temporary, therefore, you do not want to allow your relationship to function as something that exists only in short bursts of time where you spend every second together. Life is about balance, you both have friends and families, jobs, school etc. so make sure that you don’t get caught up in the fact that the other person is there and then forget about all of the other important things in your life. Make special time for each other but don’t forget to incorporate this person into your life as if they were around all the time because hopefully they will be at some point and you want to be ready for it.
  • Do what is right for you and your relationship. Everyone will have an opinion – they will tell you long distance never works or that you should handle things this way or that way, they might belittle your relationship by saying that it’s not real because you don’t spend everyday together. Don’t listen to them. Every relationship is different, it is what you allow it to be so if everyone tells you to go one way and you and your significant other really want to go another, go the way you want because you guys are the ones that will have to deal with the decisions you make.
  • Trust one another. It’s just that simple, have faith that the other person loves you, that things will work out and that you two can remain faithful to each other.
  • When to end it: this is a really tricky question. If you know that you can’t handle the distance, there’s no shame in that; this is a certain type of relationship that requires a certain type of person. Basically from my experience: If you can’t trust the other person implicitly, end it. If you are not prepared to put in as much effort as is necessary, end it. All the other stuff you can work through and I’ve learned most of it by making mistakes.”  - Chelsea

Thanks Chelsea! Anyone feel free to add your thoughts/feelings on this subject!

-Jake and Melissa
Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.