Do long distance marriages work in the long run?
Every marriage comes with its own set of strengths, challenges and expectations. Nowhere is this truer than perhaps in a long distance marriage, where spouses are compelled to stay away from each other for reasons of profession, the availability of educational or healthcare facilities or any other reason. The lack of physical togetherness is the biggest impediment to the survival of a long distance marriage. It is not just about losing out on physical intimacy – which plays an important part in any marriage – but also missing the support of a spouse, both in good times and bad. However, at the same time, such marriages are better prepared to weather any major crisis, since it is based on deep understanding and trust between two people. Here are a few factors which can determine whether a long distance marriage can eventually survive its unique challenges.
TIP: Read 2000 Questions to Ask your Partner - Spice up your Long Distance Relationship.
Perception of distance
If both spouses have been brought up in families where the absence of a parent was the norm, the distance is not likely to matter much. For instance, children of military personnel are used to having one of the parents away and find nothing wrong in such family configurations. If the marriage is made up of partners, both of whom come from a similar background, they are more likely to weather the periods of separation with a smile. On the other hand, if one of the partners has always seen his or her parents together, then the absence becomes a matter completely beyond their experience. For them being a couple equals being together and such partners are unlikely to be secure in long distance marriages.
Differing experiences of the two spouses
The success of a long distance marriage also depends on which of the partners is leaving and which is staying back. The spouse who is leaving for a new place has the advantage of being engaged in new sights, experiences and environment. But at the same time, he or she may miss the support and comforts of a familiar place. The spouse who is staying behind with the kids may be able to fall back on the support network of family and friends, but in turn may feel abandoned and trapped in a long distance marriage. The clue to making such a relationship work is to distribute roles and responsibilities according to each spouse’s personality and psychological abilities.
The key to making a long distance marriage work is to be in touch – always. Spouses must not only share the important things happening in their lives or to their kids, but must be intimately cued into each other’s routine life as well. They must ask each other mundane questions like, “What are you having for dinner tonight?” or “How was your day” just as they would if they stayed together. Advances in communication technology have made it so much easier for couples to remain connected – by phone, email, text messages and the internet.
Being visually connected makes a huge difference to the happiness of long distance marriage partners. The internet has proved to be a boon for all these people by offering free phone services like Skype, which enables people to communicate visually in real time through the means of a webcam. Other than that, couples should also regularly send photos of each other, which will enable the other partner to keep a visual record of all that is going on.
The importance of this factor in the success of a long distance marriage cannot be overemphasized. When partners are living out of each other’s sight, it is essential that they trust each other completely. As soon as one spouse begins to suspect the other of infidelity or even loss of interest, the marriage is headed for rocky times. The presence of mutual trust becomes paramount in a long distance marriage because here, unlike as in regular marriages, partners cannot meet every day to iron out small, niggling doubts and queries. They have to put their trust in each other and have faith that the other person will not do anything to jeopardize their relationship.
Honesty in the relationship
A long distance marriage needs to be built on honest and open communication if it is to survive in the long run. Partners should to be able to express their feelings about the separation – both negative and positive – truthfully. Only then will they be able to understand each other completely and get the support that either needs to tide over the separation. Spouses should express their resentment at their situation rather than at each other and look forward to the time when they will be together again.
A long distance marriage has little chance of working if the partners are perpetually distressed over the situation. Things can get even worse if one of the partners feels that the other is having an easier time of it and it is alright for him or her to stay away. In order to make a long distance marriage a success, it is necessary that both spouses handle the separation with a positive attitude. They would do better to focus on the reason why they have decided to live separately, like higher pay or better educational options for one of the spouses. If one keeps in mind the higher quality of life being enjoyed as a result of the arrangement, the family may not feel so bad about living separately.
So a long distance marriage need not be doomed from the start. While physical closeness is necessary in maintaining the bond between a husband and wife, of far greater importance is mutual love and trust, in making a success of any marriage – whether long distance or not. Admittedly, a long distance marriage demands that spouses put in harder work into the relationship, but then the chances of its succeeding are also higher than in regular marriages, where partners begin to take each other and their togetherness for granted.