Here’s the fourth installment in our series by @morealtitude about long distance relationships. He’s blogging from Ethiopia on a long-term work assignment while wife and child are at home in Australia. If you missed them, check out the first three posts in this series:
- Celebrating Two Years Of Marriage A World Apart
- Planning For Time Apart In A Long Distance Relationship
- Dreaded Departures: Four things to do before you leave to ease partings
Now, here are today’s thoughts on communicating well while you’re apart.
Let me stress that for a moment: Connect = Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Communicate as often as possible, through as many different means as possible, as much as you possibly can. Any relationship lives and dies on the quality of the communication between partners, and distance not only reduces the available windows for communication, it also compromises our ability to communicate well because several communication channels (proximity, physical touch, body language, even expression and tone) are compromised. Therefore you have to overcompensate.
On a good day, my wife and I will communicate via written chat, email, SMS, and still try and have at least one video or voice call on Skype somewhere in there as well. It doesn’t happen like that every day – especially if I’m in the field for work – but the more we manage regular, several-times-a-day communication, the more we feel better connected and able to share in each other’s daily lives. Even just simple little messages about what’s going on for you right now are important and mean something to the other person.
2. Be spontaneous in your communication sometimes
If possible, try not to get locked into too much of a routine with communication. Sure, sometimes it’s inevitable, especially where you have to make two busy lives overlap with massive time-zone differences. But just like a face to face relationship, when communication and interaction becomes too routine the relationship will suffer. Try to change the times, places, and circumstances of chats and calls as much as you can. Where you can be spontaneous, do so. Don’t let your significant other feel like they’ve become just an entry in your daily task list.
3. Talk deep, but try not to dwell on big contentious issues
Make sure you keep talking about some of the intimate, serious stuff while you’re apart – don’t stick to trivialities or the relationship will become shallow. On the other hand. try not to spent too much time on big contentious issues while you’re away, as distance facilitates miscommunication, hurt, and damage. There are some conversations it’s wiser to have in person if at all possible.
4. Find as many things as you can to celebrate in and about your relationship
Talk about your relationship even when you’re apart. Talk about your strengths together, congratulate each other as you pass milestones apart, and identify those areas that are going strong despite the distance.
5. Compliment each other as often as you can
Say and write affirming, loving things about each other. Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean communicating those things to one another should stop. If anything, expressing affirmation and encouragement can make your partner feel supported across distance more than many other things you might do or say.
Make sure the other person knows you love them, and be specific about why. It’s so easy to forget that you’re loved when your special someone is a long way away. A loving word from a distance from the person you care most about can make a huge difference to your day and keep that relationship sparking. This is especially important because the normal little ways we might find when we’re sharing life together to tell each other “I love you”- in words or in actions- are missing, so you need to be very deliberate – and genuine – about doing this.