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Published on January 22, 2021

8 Ways To Make Your Long-Distance Marriage Work

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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.

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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

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Dr. Ray Kadkhodaian

CoFounder of Couples Synergy and the Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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