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The response to “can a long-distance relationship work?” is often a resounding “NO!” But studies suggest these types of relationships are becoming more and more common, and the sisters believe that if you get a little creative, plan ahead, and adjust your expectations, separation doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Amy’s hubby has been in England for the past year and a half, which has had many of you asking "how does that work?" So today we’re sharing our top four tips for navigating a long-distance relationship:
1) Schedule a standing “date.” Unlike a non-distance relationship where impromptu visits, phone calls or simply living together will make it easy to connect, long-distance relationships can make intimacy more challenging. At the moment you need advice or simply want to debrief about your day, your partner may be fast asleep on another continent. That's why it’s best to set up regular check-ins. Amy and Jacob have a longstanding tradition of Friday night dates and this hasn't changed since living apart. Amy talks while she eats her dinner, while five hours ahead Jacob is nearing bedtime. They also have an informal standing date to speak to each other as a family by Skype for 5-10 minutes when Mattea gets home from school.
2) Schedule a standing “housekeeping date.” The regularity and length of these dates will vary depending on the nature of your relationship, but the idea is to set aside time specifically for handling logistical issues. These could include travel and scheduling plans, paying bills, going through mail together, discussing parenting concerns, etc. This date should be kept separate from your “fun date” as it may lead to conflict and disagreements (the same issues are triggering whether you are a meter away or an ocean apart!) and you don’t want that to interfere with the time you set aside to enjoy each other’s company and build intimacy.
3) Proactively identify ways to “fill the gaps.” There will be needs you simply cannot fill for each other while apart. It can be helpful to anticipate which roles you will miss the most, and continue to revisit the issue throughout your separation, discussing possible ways to have those needs met. This may include how you will handle sexual desire while apart, as well as other needs like physical comfort when feeling down, or wanting to feel attractive or sensual. How you negotiate the management of these needs will be unique to each couple but it is important that these needs be discussed openly.
4) Be prepared for a rocky re-enty. While reuniting is often a time filled with anticipation, longing and excitement, the reality often falls short of the fantasy. It’s important to recognize this for what it is and not jump to conclusions about what this “means” about your compatibility. Times apart can lead to a certain degree of amnesia where we forget our partner’s most challenging qualities. Combine that with the fact that travel is tiring and often brings out the worst in us and what do you get? A less than Hollywood reunion. If you have kids the period of adjustment will likely be much longer as family members renegotiate roles and children test boundaries to check who’s really boss. ;)
While we’ve shared some of the ways you can manage the common challenges of long-distance relationships, it is important to also take time to appreciate and celebrate the benefits. Times apart remind us that we are whole and complete beings in our own right. We are reminded of our strengths, our resilience, and our aspirations. It is easy to let ourselves become 50% of our potential when we are partnered. By reminding ourselves of our wholeness, we can perhaps better appreciate the benefits of union with another – expanding our opportunities, resources and capacity for love to well beyond the sum of our parts.
Kim & Amy Sedgwick love to discuss sex, periods, and all the other things we’re not supposed to talk about. The co-founders of Red Tent Sisters and ecosex.ca, they’ve been featured in every major Canadian news outlet and have become a trusted resource for women seeking natural (effective!) birth control, a more joyful sex life, and an empowered journey to motherhood.