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.
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.