4 tips for a happy long-distance engagement

Guest post by SarahC
Telephone

My fiance, Ian, proposed my senior year of college. Once I graduated, he still had a year of school left so we rented a room off-campus together. He went to school and I went to work. We floundered as we tried to figure out what we wanted to do and to find a way to make our passions profitable in the midst of the Great Recession.

We managed to struggle along (with LOADS of help from both sets of parents) but earlier this year, we finally realized we couldn't keep it up. We decided that the best decision we could make was to move back in with our respective parents until we moved on to grad school. This responsible behavior came with a heavy price: our parents' houses are over 200 miles away from each other. It takes him over seven hours of drive time up to my parent's house and back and it's an even longer trip by train.

It's been difficult, and any person who's ever been in a long-distance relationship can tell you how much it sucks. But I've also learned some things which might be helpful to any couple forced apart for a while.

1. Talk to each other

Seriously, pick up a phone and listen to the sound of your fiance's voice. While it is always exciting to open up your inbox and see a new email waiting for you (my hubby-to-be and I send each other puns and internet memes) nothing beats a phone conversation after a long day. If you have a webcam, so much the better.

2. Make a schedule

And stick to it! Discuss your schedules and plan appropriate times for a call or a visit. we've found that the time apart is made more bearable when we know when we'll see each other again. We try to make sure that by the time we have to leave, we've already arranged for our next visit.

3. Be spontaneous!

Send a card, leave a ridiculous message on their answering machine, sext them in the middle of the day, whatever floats your boat. Just like surprise flowers on a Tuesday afternoon, a simple gesture of love from hundreds of miles away can have an enormous impact.

And finally

4. Little things are important

Occasionally Ian and I will have really deep and emotionally intense conversations about our future and the things we believe, but usually we just give each other a rundown of the day. What makes a relationship work is all the little things that happen between and to the both of you. It's good to keep up with what the other person is doing, what new shows they've been watching, what friends they've run into, and all the other small things that happen to us every day that can get lost in the distance.

Hold on to your sanity and hold on to the relationship. When you make it through this rough patch, the two of you will be the stronger for it.

Comments on 4 tips for a happy long-distance engagement

  1. Totally agree! We spent 1.5 years 600 miles apart, and it was the regular daily phone conversations that made us still feel like we had a relationship despite the distance. Sometimes the call would max out at 5 minutes, sometimes it would be 2 hours, but I really think it’s the calls that matter most.

    Also, if schedule, financial situation, and distance allow, seeing each other at regular intervals (3 weeks, 3 months, whatever) also helps. If regular intervals aren’t possible, at least set your next in-person date before you part. There was one time I left from a visit not knowing when we’d see each other next…and that uncertainly totally sucked! I think the time apart doesn’t seem so bad when you spend it looking forward to the next time together 🙂

  2. My fiance and I did the long distance thing for about a little over a year. I went to Missouri to visit some friends and we hooked up there. The problem was that I live in Texas. The first thing we did was buy webcams. We talked every night and that made the BIGGEST difference. Getting to actually see his face every day got me through it. We tried to visit each other once a month, but there were times where I didn’t get to see him for 2. He proposed to me on Skype and his company finally let him transfer here. Don’t let anyone tell you that long distance relationships never work. Be patient and enjoy each other. I promise you it will work out.

  3. Great advice 🙂 The gentleman and I are almost 3500 miles apart (me in Philadelphia, him in the South East of England) and this is pretty much how we do it too!

  4. EXACTLY!!! While I was deployed the time passed so much easier being able to talk to my love everyday. We had 16 days together between our engagement and when I left, and the beginning was really really rough on me. But once we got into a groove and found a good schedule so that we could talk, it was a lot easier to be away from him. We sent each other letters, emails, and notes even if they just said “I love you”, something else that always put a smile on my face.

  5. Megan – thank you for that. I left in December, he proposed a few days before, and with the VERY VERY limited communication and bandwidth, we’re…struggling. Lots of email, but the face to face contact isn’t there and the phone calls are mad expensive. Skype is not supported where I am. It’s tough, but it’s good to see other couples succeeding.

  6. My husband and I first met long-distance… we did phone calls and then Skype for 5 months before we met in person, and Skype is how we grew and sustained our relationship for the next 11 months until we were married! I’d done long distance before, but this time had a partner willing to work to overcome obstacles. We both admitted to each other that there were nights that laundry needed to be done, we were tired, etc., but we still made it a priority to talk almost daily.

  7. Yes!! What a great and much-needed post. Currently doing the long distance thing with my fiance (again!), and while we’re now 2,500 kms apart, we’ll soon be continents apart as I go do more field work (again) right before the wedding. My fiance and I planned a skype ‘date night’, and while we were both sick with the flu and tempted to stick to pj’s, I still dressed up nicely, we both lit candles, drank tea together (it was supposed to be a meal but my tummy was turbulent), and then both watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead while on the phone with each other. I was surprised by how much of a comfort just sitting on the phone making an occasional comment every 5 minutes could be. Next date, we’re ordering Thai and Indian and catching up on our next episode! Love, and zombies, keep us together 😉

  8. I’m so happy to see this post! My prometido and I were separated for a year and a half while I was in school, and fortunately I got an internship in his town for six months. But unfortunately, I’ll have to leave again come august. I’ll be sure to keep this advice in mind.
    I’d also like to add that in order to work around the distance, you have to trust each other immensely. I have seen quite a few LDRs fail because jealousy and lack of communication. Although, none of them were engaged, and I hope that by that point in the relationship both partners already trust each other.

  9. My fiance and I are on different continents right now. It can’t get more long distance than that.

    It’s hard and tough and sometimes just a litle depressing. The one thing that keeps me going is the planning for our future together, the idea of a future.
    Just like the article said, communication is key. We talk more than ever, we discuss things with more thought and overall it makes me feel like I know him more than I thought was possible.
    It’s little things like that, it makes the awfulness of having a big ocean between you bearable. It gets me excited for the future and Im counting down the days when it’s finally time to cross that ocean for good 🙂

  10. I am currently going to University in Brisbane and my fiancé is working in construction throughout rural Australia (job locations change yearly). It is hard and he’s not always gone for the same length of time, although I do always know when he is coming home next. We met whilst I was finishing my last degree and he was completing an apprenticeship. We got to know each other, fall in love and move in together.
    It’s now been 4 years of him working shift work away and I still can’t tell you how I do it. Or even how WE do it.
    It is hard, there is no denying but I follow each one of those 4 tips to the letter and we are still mad for each other and able to be a cute couple in love at EVERY chance we get, by going on as many real and virtual dates as possible 😀

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