5 Tips to Surviving a Long-Distance Marriage
I’ve been asked several times “how does your marriage work with you managing multiple businesses on different coasts”?. The short answer is HARD WORK!
But let’s start at the beginning.
I define a long-distance marriage as one where one spouse is away from the home 4-5 days out of a typical week, at least 3 weeks a month. Now this can happen for a short period of time, for example for contract work for a project with a specific end date in mind; or it could be due to a long-term investment (i.e. opening a new business or residency in a medical program as examples)
Whatever the reason for the distance, this is something that will undoubtedly cause ripples that will turn into big waves if you aren’t equipped and prepared with realistic expectations.
Maybe it would help to hear a little bit of my story. J & I went into marriage with our first business, a BBQ restaurant, up and running and we thought the expansion of that would keep us working for ourselves, locally. Fast forward through a major accident that sidelined J from being able to do the grueling work that comes with being a grill master, to my exit from corporate America and transitioning to a work-from-home mom; and you end up on our quick road to a long-distance marriage.
As you’ve heard me mention before, when I started ReLeaf Health, I only had my two oldest daughters with no intention on having any more children. So, when the opportunity came for us to become a licensed cannabis company in Oregon; I thought nothing of it. The older girls could stay with our parents if we both needed to travel and we could alternate 2 weeks out of the month because we had a trusted person on the West Coast that could handle our day to day operations. Everything was great…. Or so we thought. Not even 6 months into launching the company, I found out I was pregnant. Not only was I pregnant at 37 but I was diagnosed with hyperemesis AGAIN; which meant limited to no travel.
Fast forward another year and we are in the middle of a full-blown pandemic with virtual learning and every daycare/afterschool program closed down. Someone had to stay at home and with all girls, I felt it only right that it would be me not to mention the fact that our West Coast partner got stuck out of the country being denied reentry. Talk about God’s trifecta of causing us to lean on Him.
A long-distance marriage was NOT in the plans for me but here I am, living it, for now!
Is it all bad?
The truth of the matter is that having a long-distance marriage isn’t ALL bad. There is definitely a rhyme and rhythm to the way the household can run with me mostly at the helm. It gives J and I an opportunity to miss each other and has drastically improved our communication skills. There is always a bright light in any situation but I won’t pretend like this is something I want to do forever… I DO NOT. #sorrynotsorry. Bottom line, I miss having my husband in the house with me full time to share some of this load, physically and emotionally.
All is not loss though!
We’ve been at it for a 1 ½ years now so I have 5 tips that will help you on your journey!
1. Determine the time frame – Whether the distance was by choice or by force, you need to determine a realistic time frame on when the household can be fully reunited. This may evolve you evaluating, if the timeframe is not to your liking, making a move yourself or a possible career/business change for your spouse.
2. Be flexible – the caveat to #1 is that you must be flexible if the timeline changes. You also have to be flexible to the needs that may require your spouse’s attention to the “job” more than to the household. (this is a tough one but your spouse is now dedicated to two places now and if they are sacrificing time at home, they have to make sure they are giving their all to the reason as well aka return on investment)
3. Communicate non-stop – When you are not face to face with someone or even over FaceTime/Zoom, things can get lost in translation. Communicate often and intentionally. Communicate even the things that you feel are mundane or menial because it’s usually those things that are the spark to confusion or arguments.
4. Make use of time together – I get it. You’re tired. They’re tired. Everyone is tired. That doesn’t negate the fact that you only have a short amount of time to reconnect physically. Schedule a date night, plan for time away from the kids, anticipate and ready yourself for sex. You know your girl got you so click here if you need some ideas.
5. Remember the why often – There is a reason for this distance. Whether it's for financial gain, to pursue a passion or to create a new way of living. This is happening for a reason and I’m sure that discussion has been had. Jot down the why in a journal, on your mirror, as a reminder that pops up on your phone; whatever you need to do. Remembering the why you are doing something is MORE important than focusing on the lack that something brings.
I’m sure a long-distance marriage isn’t what you dreamt of but it’s something that can survive if you are willing to pivot. The distance creates another challenge to the already challenging partnership of marriage but you can do it!
Love & Light,