LDR. Possibly one of the most dreaded acronyms we’ll ever use. My husband and I were together for four years before we kissed our LDR (long distance relationship) goodbye and actually got to see each other every day (…well as much as you can with hectic training schedules). Still to this day we have had more dates via FaceTime, more serious conversations via the phone, and more nights apart than we have had dates, conversations, and nights together. Of course, the distance was a bummer, but I am so glad it happened. Here is why:
The distance sharpened our communications skills. Communicating during distance was hard. At the beginning I found myself saving difficult conversations for when we would see each other, but when we saw each other I never brought it up out of fear it would ruin the little time we had together. Eventually the conversation would build up and become a bother to me. We learned to have difficult conversations via phone call as soon as possible. Talking things out as they came up allowed us to not only enjoy as much time as possible together when we saw each other, but to also move on and focus on our individual days and daily tasks without the looming thought of a difficult conversation as a distraction.
I personally took the LDR time to be thankful for where I was at the moment. The distance was no fun, but it taught me to find the good in a rather unpleasant situation. During the last year of distance, when I was really missing my husband, I occasionally found myself wishing that last year would fly by.
However, I knew that soon enough I would be moving away from all the familiar faces I loved at home due to my husband’s orders. Being thankful for where you are in life is a valuable lesson that spans the time following long distance. The military will test your ability to be thankful during the ever-constant change of plans and during seasons of deployments, PCS’s, and trainings. It is totally ok to cry and have “off days,” but hunting for the good in some of the most difficult situations is something that has helped me.
Long distance also taught us how to get creative. Every day, when communication with phones was allowed, we would start the day off with some sort of “Good morning, I love you!.and kick butt today!” text. We would normally end the day with a phone call or FaceTime where we would talk about our day and say goodnight. Sometimes, we both were so busy that this ended up being a texted conversation. However, we would occasionally leave voicemails and send voice messages just to tell the other how much we loved them. In addition, we would also write each other letters even when communication with phones was allowed. The surprise of a handwritten letter was one of my favorite things. It felt extra romantic. Once, I got so creative as to send my husband a burrito from a Mexican restaurant down the street.
Learning to trust is one of the biggest and most important things long distance taught us as a couple. I didn’t know my husband growing up, I didn’t know him from school, or even through a friend. We were complete strangers when we met. Trusting someone you don’t even know, and you can’t talk to in person every day is hard. Not overthinking text messages and telling yourself to trust is hard when you are first getting to know someone. Building this trust not only took time, but it took consistent transparency, communication, and effort on both of our parts. Today, we have such a strong foundation of trust and one of the reasons I believe that it is so strong is because it was built during years of distance.
Lastly, the distance helped me to focus on myself. I took jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities. I started running and going to the gym. I never felt guilty about going out with friends instead of my husband because I never had the option to choose. Having that “me” time is so important. It helped me to savor the last moments with my friends and to build my experience so that I had something to bring to my next employer where I currently live.
It can be tough to be thankful for distance, but please know that you will be so glad it happened down the road. It can make you and your relationship stronger.