6 tips to strengthen your marriage when you’re apart
Long-distance relationships get a pretty bad rap. You don't get to see your partner for months on end. You have to trust them implicitly. Half the time, you live like you're single. For many military families, long-distance marriage is a necessary evil. It takes a strong partnership to handle it, but with dedication and communication, it's 100% possible.
Here's what you need to work on to defeat the distance and make your marriage one for the books.
1. Up your verbal communication skills
According to current studies, a measly 7% of communication is verbal. In every conversation, we're picking up the nuances of our partner's mannerisms, from their tone of voice to their facial expressions and posture. Because of this, when distance keeps us from seeing our partner, many of our messages don't get through. Work with your partner to be more descriptive and straightforward about emotional needs so that they understand how to fill them, even when they can't see you. For example, if you're venting about your irritating boss, let your partner know that you just want them to be on your side - not to offer solutions. Vice versa, if you're looking for your partner's guidance, ask for it! Skip the subtleties, because not even the fastest 5G can wire them through.
2. Include your partner as much as possible
Whether you're managing a house, pets or kids, involve your partner even while they're away. Plan phone calls on speaker to discuss important family matters, and keep your partner up to date on even small life changes. Let them know how the kids' grades are, how the dog's arthritis is, and what the mechanic said when you took the car in for a tune-up. That way, they'll feel like they're still an important part of life at home, and won't be so surprised by changes when they return.
3. Be open about your social life
No matter how devoted you are to your partner, they can't cater to all your social needs when they aren't physically around. That's not a bad thing, but it's important that your significant other knows about the other people who come into your life. If you've started going to book club, met a new friend in your spin class, or took up competitive roller derby, let your partner know. This is especially true if you spend time with friends of the opposite sex. No matter how innocent your interactions with friends may be, your partner will feel more secure, knowing there are no secrets between you.
4. Learn to accept space and ask for connection
For one reason or another, military partners can be emotionally distant at times. In the grand scheme of things, it's important to know if your husband or wife has experienced trauma, loss or is coping with PTS. But sometimes, they just need some space and time to process and adjust. Most of the time, it's not about you at all! Give space, but plan time to reunite with a phone or video call in the near future. That way, they don't feel pressured, and you don't feel abandoned or insecure.
5. Find activities to share when you’re apart
Living apart doesn't have to mean growing apart. Find experiences you can share even from miles away. Pick a book to read or a series to watch, so you have something in common to talk about. Video chat while each taking a walk. Share your fitness goals and pics of your progress. Brainstorm what home improvements you'd like to work on together. It's not the same as being cuddled up on the couch, but it is a way to continue working and playing like a team.
6. Make time for each other when you can
When your partner is home, put each other first. You may still have work obligations, but do your best to maximize your time as a couple. No phones, no screens, just the two of you catching up and doing things you love to do together. Long-distance marriages are hard, but they don't have to tear you apart. By showing your partner that they're still your first priority, you can keep your relationship strong through just about anything.
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