4 tips for a happy long-distance engagement

Guest post by SarahC

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. My fiancé and I are currently in a LDR – 3000 miles between us. Having access to Facebook, Skype & the phone has been a huge help with dealing with the distance. Skype is especially great to be able to talk face to face – so to speak. The only thing missing is the intimate contact. It has also helped with our kids too. Our youngest is having a hard time, so being able to see & talk to his Dad is a big thing. They even spend one day each weekend on skype together playing games. Our kids even do the same thing when they’re able to. … What has made this time apart easier is not only using Skype but also making it a point of connecting every night even if it’s to say good nite. We also have our own little rituals. Communication is a huge must including total trust. …. We reconnected (we dated in high school & moved to another province together after grad & lived together for a while) via Facebook after 9 years, became engaged this past Xmas holidays. We’ve been back together again for over a year now & have 4 more months to go before our youngest and I move to where they are & start our life together… not to mention start planning our wedding.

  2. I’m so glad that this article resonated with so many people! Like Annie said, it makes me feel less alone to know that there are others going through the same thing. Good luck to everyone! An update from me: Ian is in the process of getting into a substitute teacher’s pool and I have a job interview on Monday, so with any luck we’ll be able to see each other more often!

  3. My fiance and I started our dating relationship while I was living in West Africa and he was in the US. Skype is a BEAUTIFUL thing! We’ve had Skype date nights where we play games and watch movies together— it’s a fun challenge to try and find new activities that can be done via the internet 🙂

    Now, the man is living in Germany and I’m finishing up things here in the US before the wedding, so it’ll be another long stretch apart. We’d gotten used to being in different states on the same continent, so it is challenging to adjust back to the massive time zone difference/ lack of reliable and affordable phone service.

    Nevertheless, I’d like to give a shout out to other long-distance couples: you CAN do it and there are tons of benefits! I love that my fiance and I appreciate the heck out of each other when we are together. We’ve also had the opportunity to do have a lot of great conversations.

  4. My FH is currently in Basic Training for the military, and our only form of communication is… da da da DUH…. snail mail. I’m an artist, so to keep it interesting and special, I draw him pctures. <3 He loves it, and it keeps us connected.

  5. I am going through this now. My fiance is finishing his Army Reserves training, and I am struggling with planning our wedding pretty much all alone. It’s hard to know what to do, and it’s good to see that others are getting through the same sort of thing and managing. Thanks for this!

  6. My dearest and I are separated by 2,500km. We met over 4 years ago and have always been long distance. We talk at least once a day by phone or Skype but we only see each other every 3-5months in person. We’re now engaged and planning our wedding for later this year. Unfortunately, since we’re living in different countries we’ll have to remain long distance for about year after our wedding until our emigration clears.

    As much as we can’t wait until we permanently live together, we’ve come to realize that being long distance can be a blessing in disguise:
    – We are conscious that we work to keep our relationship strong and fresh and this seems to make us more committed and definitely more appreciative of each other.
    – We’ve had to learn how to communicate with words instead of expecting the other person to mind-read from non-verbal cues, which helps to avoid miscommunications and verbal fights.
    – We frequently reminisce and share our favourite memories of our times together, which brings us closer.

    I would say our ingredients for success are:

    1) Implicit trust in each other.
    2) Truly listening to what the other person needs or is trying to say.
    3) Where possible, we ‘table’ the more important/difficult discussions for when we’re together in person so that we can connect physically with hugs etc if needed. We avoid using email as a one-way communication to express emotions/thoughts (i.e. rant) about difficult topics for the same reason. The fact we recognize that certain topics are best discussed in person also means that by the time we do talk about these things the initial emotion has usually dissipated and we can have a more objective discussion.

    At one point in our relationship we experienced so much pressure from various friends/family expressing their opinions that we decided to tell people we had broken up. We kept our relationship secret for the next year while we worked things out for ourselves. During this year he asked me to marry him, and I accepted. About 6months after he asked me, we decided to bring our relationship back into the open and surprised everyone with our official engagement.

    Like Annie said: One thing we always say to each other is this: if we can survive this, we can accomplish anything. So true!

  7. I got engaged while my hubs-to-be was 18 hours away at trade school. He was living in our camper so my son and I would visit him whenever we could. My son is home schooled, and I’m self-employed so we were able to spend several days at a time with my guy.

    Daily calls helped a LOT too. We usually didn’t have much news, so it was a short but sweet call. Just a quick reminder that your best friend is still there for you, just a few miles away.

    Honestly, the time apart wasn’t so bad, and planning the wedding has been kind of fun – gave us something new to chat about on the phone!

    The hardest part has been adjusting since he’s been home! But that’s a post for another day…

  8. YUP, THIS – Hubby and I met at a Science Fiction Convention on the North West of the UK (Blackpool for people who know)and then discovered that we were from almost opposite ends of the country (200 miles apart(I know – nothing for those of you who are on different sides of the pond, but still a distance)). We then spent the next 3 years doing the long distance thing. Sometimes it was nice, mostly it was quite hard.

    We started out with letters and about twice weekly phone calls I think. Then there were emails too and visits.

    Once I finished uni I moved to live with him and 10 years later we got married – eep how long ; )

    If you’re serious you make it work and it makes it so much nicer when you’re with each other.

  9. Oh yes! My fiance is in the Marines, so he’s stationed in California and I’m in Connecticut. We have been long-distance for about three years now, and have another two to go (we are getting married July 2015 and his enlistment is up in September 2015). Skype is a godsend, and so are regular visits. Earlier this year we had to go five months between visits, and it was a big strain on us. We agreed that we’d never let more than three months go by without seeing each other, even if only for a long weekend (unless, God forbid, he gets sent on a deployment). I will actually be going to see in him in TWO days (let’s speed up time!), and we already have our next visit planned.

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