Traditionally, married couples lived under the same roof, slept, dined together and raised their children together. Today, many more couples live apart in long distant relationships, not only within the country but beyond the boundaries. The digital age has great benefits; the ability to communicate with people from all over the world, not only on e-mail and telephone but also on Skype.
This provides greater options for individuals to consider long distance relationships as they pursue career development, and study opportunities abroad. This situation, however, also poses various challenges for many relationships.
Long distance relationships works well for some couples and for others it just doesn’t. It is a choice to live apart and the arrangement requires commitment and excellent communication skills from both partners. Unfortunately, more often than not, partners are never consulted or given the opportunity in the decision-making process and are simply informed, which is tragic for any relationship.
It is generally not easy to measure commitment entirely while living apart, which poses a great challenge. When living together, the couple is able to enjoy every level of intimacy, physical, intellectual, emotional, recreational and spiritual. When apart certain aspects of the relationship are left out particularly the physical and recreational intimacy. Couples who live apart often experience increased jealousy or difficulty with commitment and contentment. This can be a source of conflict as it breeds insecurities.
Before committing to long distance relationships, it is important that both parties are clear on their objectives and needs and such decisions should be made together. It is helpful to be open and clear as to the reasons of living apart. Is living apart an excuse of getting away from one another?
Have a discussion on the pros and cons of living apart and agree on a plan. The structure should clearly articulate the period of separation, responsibilities, financial obligations and how they will be met. If children are involved, agree on how to keep them in the loop, who will mentor them, discuss their up keep and financial needs. Agree on how often you will see one another, travel and communication. Address all fears and expectations by keeping communication lines open. Long distance relationships do have a life cycle and it is important that both partners understand the timelines.
However, not everyone minds the separation, for some, it is a perfect arrangement and it enhances their intimacy levels by being apart. In most case, the diagnosis is “fear of Intimacy”, so distance provides personal space that helps a partner feel safe and the anticipation of the reunion, keeps their love hormones kicking. Whatever works for a couple, is good for them, it is not about one size fits all. It is however helpful to consider the following when you consider a long distant relationship.
For long distance relationships to work;
• Your marriage should be built on a solid rock, high levels of intimacy, integrity and good financial management.- You are a good communicator
• You have high discipline levels
• You have a good self esteem
• You have a good support group, family and friends
• You have a good strategic plan for the period and at least three years of your life apart
• You have scheduled some unions, at least twice every year
• You are clear on the duration of the separation
• The reason of living apart is clear and necessary
• Evaluation midstream should be scheduled
Long distance relationships are difficult, but not impossible, simple adjustments of lifestyle and attitude can make it worth it. Sometimes sacrifices need to be made and distance may be that sacrifice that one must make. As long as the two partners are in agreement it will work. Long distance relationships can also be fruitful and enjoyable and can improve your relationship depending on personalities and the rules of engagement. It is important that both parties are in agreement and make decisions together despite their distance.
The writer is a Relationship Coach and Author, “Marriage Built to Last”. You can reach her on; www.jenniekarina.co.ke