In my last post, I told you the tale of how I met my husband, started up a long distance relationship with him, and then married him after we had spent less than four months in the same country. Then, after we were married we did another fourteen months of long distance.
One of the key factors in the success of our against-the-odds relationship were the ground rules that we adopted during our LDR. We didn’t sit down and hammer these ground rules out – they emerged organically out of our values and our personalities, but they were well-discussed and understood by both of us, and played a major role in safeguarding and growing our relationship.
When Nick first asked if we could stay in touch when I returned to Australia (before he asked the all-important “would you consider a LDR” question), I rather bluntly told him that I didn’t really have time for more long-distance friends.
He understood what I meant. He was trying to finish grad school and establish a new career after immigrating to Canada. I was going to be up to my ears in PhD research and clinical internships in Australia. A casual long-distance relationship just for the sake of it didn’t hold any appeal for either of us.
When we realised that we both wanted more than a friendship, we agreed that the relationship needed to have clear definition and intentionality. The clearly understood purpose of our LDR was to discover if we should get married and spend our lives together. Although much of the time that we spent chatting on Skype in the early days was fun and enjoyable, it was ultimately geared toward allowing us to answer that question. It was great to have a shared sense of purpose for the time and energy we invested into the relationship.
2. Honesty and vulnerability
This is an important principle for any relationship, but we felt that it was absolutely crucial for a Skype-based relationship. It is easy enough to hide your weaknesses and put your best foot forward when you are on in-person dates. It is even easier to do this when it is just the two of you in a highly controlled environment, without many of the outside influences that can bring out someone’s true character (like frustrating traffic jams, poor customer service, family members, etc).
Nick and I were determined that we would truly get to know each other, warts and all. We tried to value honesty and integrity more than making a good impression. It wasn’t easy to bring up the things that we were less-than-proud about, or to answer each other’s questions with what we really believed, not what we thought the other wanted to hear. But it was worth it to build an authentic portrait of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
3. Being in the present, but planning for the future
As has been mentioned numerous times by others on this blog, it is so important to value an LDR for what it is now, not just what it will be. At the same time, it really helps to anticipate and prepare for that time when life will be shared in person. Nick and I look back with great fondness at those three years of Skype dates and short visits. We definitely made the most of them, but we are so glad that we laid a foundation during that time for a happy life together now.
Check back later this week to read how these ground rules played out practically for us!