In the earlier days of our relationship, Chad and I had to go through the whole distance thing. I don’t miss this time of our lives.
Mostly we’d tell each other that it made us stronger, made seeing each other that much better, that distance makes makes the heart grow fonder. Really, it just sucked.
It was during my senior year of high school. Chad left for college 200 miles away, in his rickety Jeep that I barely trusted to get him there, let alone back. I’ll never forget dropping him off at Mines with a pitted stomach, wondering if that hug goodbye would be my last, and silently crying while his dad drove us back to Gunnison (yes, it was as awkward as it sounds).
Thankfully, it wasn’t the last time I’d see Chad. However lucky we were in our dedication to make things work, it still wasn’t an easy situation. I couldn’t make the four hour drive to see Chad (thanks to sports, school, and parents that knew better), and his visits felt very spaced out—about once every two months, for a quick weekend.
We missed big things. Chad didn’t come to my senior prom, we hardly had the privacy to Skype, and our schedules were totally opposite. I wanted to see his life and experience it first-hand, but had to depend heavily on day-old recounts of his surroundings. “I miss you” was probably the number one phrase in our exchanged lexicon.
When Chad came home that summer, it felt like a miracle. I could see him regularly? We didn’t have to rely on flip phones and shitty wifi to communicate? It was like a dream come true, and we vowed that distance would stay in the past moving forward.
In mid-October, I lived the distance disaster again, on a much smaller scale: seven days of distance. I dog sat for my brother and his family in Denver, leaving Chad behind at home.
A few hours into our separation, I realized that a week was the longest we’d been apart since we got married. Sure, there were nights here and there, trips where I left Chad behind. But so far, five days had been the longest.
What I’ve Learned
Distance, though I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone who enjoys their spouse, has taught me a few things.
1. You should be attached to your spouse.
Being attached to your spouse—actually liking them and enjoying their company—is a big deal. While it’s normal to need breaks and alone time in a relationship, and to not go crazy over a night or two away, there are definitely limits. If you don’t miss your spouse after a week, there’s likely a problem.
My time missing my husband made me realized that I not only love the crap out of him, I also really like him. He’s funny and great to be around, and makes me happy. That’s a winning realization for any marriage, I think.
2. Do Things Alone
When you’re missing your person, it might seem counter-intuitive to do anything but wallow and watch Sex and the City (trust me, I did plenty of that). However, it’s a great idea to spend quality time with yourself, and enjoy doing it.
Have fun doing things for yourself.
Whether you are watching a racy show that only you enjoy, or you go out to eat, or to a movie, it’s important to spend time by yourself. It’s freeing and nice every once in a while. Sure, you like to spend time with your partner, but it’s also to enjoy your own company every once in a while too.
3. Support Your Spouse
When doing the distance thing, it’s important to boost your spouse and lift them up, especially when they might be feeling lonely.
On his end, Chad always helped me by encouraging me to do things. For example, when I wanted to lay around and feel bad about myself, he encouraged me to reach out to my friends and go and see them, reminding me that I don’t get to be with them very often.
Likewise, I tried to support Chad by communicating clearly—letting him know what I was up to, my plans, and how I missed him. I called every night, sent Snapchats, made plans for when I came back, and perfected that old goodnight message I haven’t had to use in ages.
My biggest takeaway? Next time, I’m bringing my husband along with. He’s just too damn fun to leave behind.