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Published on January 22, 2021

8 Ways To Make Your Long-Distance Marriage Work

8 Ways To Make Your Long-Distance Marriage Work

It is no surprise to couples that creating a happy marriage is hard work and full of challenges that they have to overcome. Couples that have to face the challenge of maintaining a connection despite a long-distance marriage, however, take the prize for one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in their relationship.

It is estimated in a 2017 study by the Statistic Brain Research Institute that 3.75 million marriages are considered to be a long-distance marriage. And according to the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, the number of long-distance marriages is on the rise due to increased travel for work and internet dating.[1]

The good news is that although it is estimated in a more recent study that long-distance marriages have a 58% success rate, this statistic is not any worse than the current success rate of traditional marriages.[2]

So, what actually is the hard part of a long-distance marriage?

Feeling connected is one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome in a long-distance marriage. According to a study, the most difficult issue that long-distance marriages face is the lack of feeling connected to their partner’s daily life.[3] This disconnection leads to decreased intimacy and can erode the relationship over time.

Since relationships are either growing or dying, this feeling of disconnect must be addressed daily, which can be quite challenging for couples separated by distance. Over the years of working with couples through the Couples Synergy method, I have found that those who are successful at navigating a long-distance marriage practice 8 things that ensure their success.

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Here are 8 ways to make your long-distance marriage work:

1. Get Creative With Quality Time

Quality time is necessary for couples to nurture their connection. In the book The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work by John Gottman, it is recommended that couples spend 5 hours of quality time together without distractions. This can be extremely difficult for long-distance couples, especially if they are new to the separation.

Long-distance couples need to be creative when spending quality time together, and technology can play a significant role.

For example, one couple we work with has a standing virtual “meeting’ every Friday evening even though they cannot be together physically. They use this time to connect and share their common vision, which is important when spending quality time together. Whatever a couple chooses to do, this time needs to be distraction-free.

2. Stimulate as Many Senses as Possible

When we are in love, all of our senses seem to be stimulated. Just given the traditional five senses, our sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch senses become alive with every moment we spend with our partner.

When we are apart from our spouse as in the case in a long-distance marriage, these senses can lack the stimulation necessary for bonding with our partner. Couples in a long-distance marriage must get creative when apart and find ways to stimulate these senses in each other. Whether you send a picture, audio file, a delivered food or scent, or something your partner can touch themselves with, these creative ideas activating all of these senses can facilitate connection.

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3. Virtual Intimacy

Technology has increased our ability to connect with people all over the world in an instant. It has also created new ways to express sexual desires and intimacy between lovers when they cannot be together in the same space.

Companies like kiiroo.com have developed apps and sexual toys designed to connect a couple who is especially separated by long distances using technology to enhance intimacy. Getting creative with phone/virtual sex, intimate pictures, sexting, and virtual masturbation can help with the disconnect long-distance marriages often feel in their intimate lives.

4. Letter Writing

Romantic movies have been made about couples separated by distance and how their love was kept alive by the letters they wrote to each other. There is just something about receiving a letter in the mail that holds much more meaning than a text or email, and this is something that couples in a long-distance marriage can replicate in their relationship.

Writing letters to your spouse can spark loving feelings that cannot be duplicated by any other form of communication, and they can be revisited at any time to keep the feeling of connection fresh even when their partner isn’t available.

5. Fall Asleep Together

The act of falling asleep together in the same bed may be something a traditional couple takes for granted, however, lacking this connection can be wearing over time for a long-distance marriage.

A client I had several years ago was engaged and was separated from his fiance for six months due to work obligations. He and his fiance got into the habit of falling asleep together over facetime. He reported that it gave him a sense of calmness and normalcy when he would wake up to see his fiance still sleeping on the screen.

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Technology advances have created opportunities for long-distance couples to share in this intimate moment, even if snoring might be involved! Beginning and ending the day together even virtually leaves both people feeling a sense of belonging, significance, and connection.

6. Transparency

As mentioned above, one of the most difficult challenges long-distance marriages face is a feeling of disconnection from their partner daily. When partners are not aware of what their spouse is experiencing just because they are not spending as much time together as traditional couples, this can breed worry and assumptions.

According to the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, long-distance couples do worry more about infidelity than traditional marriages.[4] Thus, when transparency isn’t a standard in their relationship, this can add to more worry and more disconnection.

Transparency can be in the form of letting your partner know where you are going, who you are spending time with, what you are spending money on, or what you are communicating on social media. It is important to note that this is not about seeking permission or being controlled by your partner but having consideration for your partner’s feelings and not allowing insecurities to develop.

7. Healthy Boundaries With Friends

The fact is that long-distance couples will not spend nearly as much time together as traditional couples will just because of their physical separation. This doesn’t mean that while apart you should isolate yourself socially. In fact, according to a study, people in long-distance marriages tend to isolate themselves from others and focus on work to alleviate any loneliness they may feel.[5]

It is important for people to have a healthy social life and support system even if they cannot be with their partner. With that said, it is important to have healthy boundaries with the people you spend time with when away from your partner.

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For example, your spouse should know the people you are spending time with as well as what you are doing with them. Also, the people you spend time with should have equal respect for your marriage and not push any boundaries that might disrespect your spouse.

8. Surprises

Surprising your partner is essential in any relationship, and it is just as important in any long-distance marriage. This can be tricky for couples separated by distance and can take creativity and planning to implement.

Surprises—because they are unsolicited and unexpected—communicates a message to your spouse that you are thinking of them and that you took the time and effort to show them. These surprises do not have to be expensive or extravagant. In fact, it is the smaller gestures that seem to mean the most.

For example, a client of mine wanted to surprise his wife who travels for work and arranged for her favorite candy to be delivered to her hotel room. Another client arranged for their spouse to be taken to an indoor skydiving facility to celebrate his birthday. The gestures can be endless and yet pay out in great rewards in the end.

Final Thoughts

Every kind of marriage faces specific challenges unique to their situation, and long-distance marriages are no exception. Couples must realize that marriage takes work and long-distance marriages face obstacles that traditional marriages do not have to face.

It is important for couples separated by distance to acknowledge their limitations and adapt to new ways of connecting with each other to continue developing their relationship. In these ways, long-distance marriages can ensure a closer connection with their spouse and reach out to each other across the divide.

More Tips on How to Make Long-Distance Relationships Work

Featured photo credit: Justin Follis via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Statistic Brain Research Institute: Long Distance Relationship Statistics
[2] Kiiro: Long-Distance Relationship Troubles
[3] The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships: Long Distance Relationship Frequently Asked Questions 2018
[4] The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships: Long Distance Relationship Frequently Asked Questions 2018
[5] The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships: Long Distance Relationship Frequently Asked Questions 2018

More by this author

Dr. Ray Kadkhodaian

CoFounder of Couples Synergy and the Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center

8 Ways To Make Your Long-Distance Marriage Work 25 Pieces of Marriage Advice All Loving Couples Follow

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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