When our second child was three weeks old, my husband, Mike, headed back to our home in Laos, while I stayed on in Australia with the kids for another six weeks. On more than one evening during those six weeks we had conversations that went something like this:
Mike: “Hi honey, how are you?”
Me: “Tired. Boy, am I tired.”
Mike: “What’s been going on on your end?”
Me: “Well… um… hmm… I got up to Alex for the first time last night at 12:30 and he didn’t go back to sleep until 2:30. Then I had to feed him again at 3:30 and 6:30.”
Mike: “How was today?”
Me: “Well, I was going to do some work, but Alex needed to be held a lot, and I played with Dominic for a while. Dominic didn’t eat anything but a single piece of sausage and 123 grapes for dinner and took over an hour to go to sleep. He kept crying and pitching everything out of his cot and we had to go into him eight times. Eight times. That’s about it, really.”
When we in a long distance relationship before we had kids, Mike and I regularly used to talk for two to three hours on Skype about all sorts of new and interesting things. Now, I sometimes feel as if I have nothing to contribute to our conversation apart from an update on who is sleeping (or not), who is eating decently (or not), who spends what percentage of the day crying and whining and needing to be held, and how wrecked I feel.
During these foggy days of early parenthood I often feel as if huge portions of my brain, my personality, and my professional life are on hold. When I have too many conversations like the one above, I feel that way about my relationship with Mike, too.
Do you ever get on the line with your long distance partner and feel like you have nothing to say? You might not be exhausted from weeks of broken sleep, but maybe you feel like there’s nothing new and interesting going on for you.
Maybe you’ve been apart from your long distance partner for what seems like forever and you’re struggling to find fresh things to talk about.
Maybe you feel like what’s going on in your life is boring compared to what your partner is dealing with (or, if you’re involved in high-intensity work, you might find it difficult to explain what you’re experiencing).
Everyone in a long distance relationship is going to have days (maybe weeks) when talking to their partner doesn’t come naturally, when it takes effort. That’s normal. However, in a long distance relationship, conversations are pretty much all you’ve got. So if you find yourself feeling like this too often, it’s worth making that extra, intentional, effort to push past that feeling of, “I’ve got nothing to say.”
Not sure how to do that? Here are five ideas.
5 Things To Try When You’ve Run Out Of Things To Talk About
1. Write down things you want to tell your partner (or ask them) on a piece of paper throughout the day.
If you write down things you want to say, you won’t have to struggle to remember them later after you’re exhausted and frazzled from having paraded in and out of your toddlers bedroom eight times during the put-down routine. This practice also disciplines you to notice little things to discuss with your partner. It can help you live your day more mindfully.
2. Tell him or her something that you’re grateful for at the moment.
Gratitude breeds happiness. Practicing identifying things that you’re grateful for helps make you more happy and content. It’s always an interesting exercise to share these things with your partner.
3. Tell them something from your day, even if it seems small or unimportant to you.
It might not be Mike’s dream Skype date to listen to me list exactly what times I got up to feed our child, but he’d probably like to hear me describe how Alex beamed, flapped his arms, and squeaked with delight when my face appeared above him at 2am. Try telling some stories about the small moments in your life at present. They will help your partner feel more connected to your present reality, and it will help you feel like your partner understand a little more about what’s really going on for you.
4. Ask questions
When you’re fresh out of things to say (and preferably long before that) ask your partner questions. During those weeks following Alex’s birth, I felt like all I was doing was doing was looking after kids (and let’s be honest, that’s pretty much all I was doing). However, during that time Mike was busy working as part of an emergency response crew following bad flooding in Southern Laos, so there was plenty for him to talk about and for me to ask questions about.
If you’re stuck for questions to ask, pick up a book of questions and look through it for inspiration.
5. Take a little break
Sometimes when you feel like you have nothing to say you’re just a little burned out on talking. When you’re in a long distance relationship you can feel that you need to call/email every spare minute or for long periods each day. Over time, that can backfire. If that’s the situation you’re in (or even if it’s not and you’re just feeling tired and overwhelmed) give yourself a little bit of time off to refresh. Try not talking for a couple of days.
What you do when you feel like you’re running out of things to talk about?