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. Great advice – the phone calls are so important, even if it’s just five minutes. My partner and I have lived 150 miles apart for our whole relationship, but we talk every day and see each other most weekends (which spill over by a few days when I’m visiting him because I can do some work from home), plus summers (we both teach), holidays, etc… It’s great when we get to spend time together, but those phone calls make us feel like we’re still part of each other’s lives when we’re not in the same city.

    One thing I’d add – create little rituals! These arose spontaneously for us, but they could be ‘engineered’ as well. For example, we have very different work/sleep schedules and got into the habit of sending texts that the other would read first thing when they woke up (me sending one late at night, him sending one early in the morning). It means we both get to start the day with a smile and a warm fuzzy feeling 🙂

  2. Me and the fiance have been 1000 miles apart for the last 3 years (military), and he’s now on a Deployment so it’s probably more like a million miles D: And we can only email each other, blech.

    Also, playing MMOs and watching Netflix together over webcam is AWESOME. And two people can share one netflix account and watch the same thing at the same time <3

  3. I’m not sure if yall have this in mind yet or what, but I think it would be a good idea when yall do get married and are figuring out a place to live, maybe make it a location right in the middle between both parents. I mean so it would just be half the time to get to each one, so it makes it easier to go visit and when yall have kids, etc so your parents can visit too, instead of 7 hours make it just 3 and a half 🙂 Hope this helps and congrats on your engagement! 🙂

  4. This is totally my life right now. My partner and I have been living together for a while completing grad school. We just got married this Christmas holidays back home in a low key wedding. And then 10 days later he (being finished school) he stayed at home to take advantage of the good job prospects and I went back to the other side of the country to finish school. Answering the question “So how is married life?” is always kind of awkward. Hmmmm we went from living together to long distance – its different.

    My husband and I have done periods of long distance before, so it was not a complete surprise. Also my supervisor was so nice about it as well. He insisted during the summer I should just go home to write rather than stay here.

  5. Great article. And thank you. Right now the fiancé and I are also both living with parents, but it’s a mere 20 miles ish apart. Even so, it’s enough of a commute with traffic (he’s got a job near his place and I’m still in school in town) that we can only see each other 2-3 times in a typical week. But, that’s nothing compared to the (very likely) possibility that he will be leaving for grad school next fall on the mainland where he’ll be like 4000 miles and 4-5 hours time difference away. I am sure it will be tough, but I think this advice will come really in handy when that happens.

    I would especially agree about scheduling, too. We’re still getting used to it, but I always feel LOADS better when I know when we will see each other next or when I can expect a phone call or skype. We’re both musicians so in addition to just regular work and school schedules, we do often have some late and unusual hours devoted to practicing, composing, and the like. It does make it hard, but it also makes us stronger and really appreciate our time together a lot more.

  6. Suddenly my ‘long distance’ feels very short. When we started talking and got together, we were about 40 miles away but saw each other about once a month thanks to both being in college and him having work too.

    Hearing his voice always helped.

    I’m going to keep these tips in mind for our future though (excluding the sexting!) as we plan to leave the country and it’ll be our families we have the long distance relationship with!

  7. Thanks for this article! I’ve been in a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend for 3.5 years. I live in the midwestern US, he lives in Sweden. All of your advice is great. It’s nice to know that other people are in similar situations as I am, it makes me feel less alone. I’m moving there this year in order to be with him, but international moves are quite complicated. One thing we always say to each other is this: if we can survive this, we can accomplish anything. If you’re in an LDR and you start to lose hope, just repeat that to yourself. You will get through it. It will get easier. The distance will not last forever. You can do it.

  8. This is all so true. By the time I move in with my love, we will have been long distance for almost 11 months (almost a third of our relationship).

    The phone calls really do make things a little easier (us being together would be easiest, but we make do and count down the days.)

  9. My guy and I dated for 1.5 years before I finally moved to NY to be with him. We saw each other exactly four times (albeit for 7-10 days at a time) during that time. We didn’t even meet in person (we met on Facebook, which is so weird for us) for the first six months. We got by with TONS of talking on the phone. So my word of advice? Have the same cell phone carrier! We both had Verizon, so we had unlimited Verizon-to-Verizon minutes, which was good. I was on my parent’s plan, and my mom said that one month we talked for about 3,000 minutes. In one month. Yep. Thank god it was all free.

    P.S. I lived in ND and he lived in NY. It’s about a 25 hour drive or 8 hours and three plane changes. Thank goodness it’s long over and done with.

  10. I agree with all of these! My husband and I were long distance for 2 years including our entire engagement and the first 6 months of marriage. Talking every day even if its for 5 minutes helps a lot. It keeps you in tune with one another, and keeps you feeling close because you do know the every day boring stuff that happened. Great post!

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