Miles Apart, But Close At Heart: 5 Rules of Long-Distance Relations

“I don’t cry because we’ve been separated by distance, and for a matter of years. Why? Because for as long as we share the same sky and breathe the same air, we’re still together”
– Donna Lynn Hope

To my dear husband who is moving miles away for his new job,

I know you didn’t want to do this. I remember each and every time you had refused a boys’ night out because you wanted to spend every minute of your life with your tiny family. I cherish the happiness in our son’s eyes when you throw him on the bed. With terror on my face I would hear his giggles, and knew that you would never let him get hurt.
And now, here you are moving away from home, just so you can provide a comfortable life to us.

I remember the day, when I sat next to you with tears in my eyes and told you that I hate my job. Right away, you told me to quit, but I stuck around for 5 more years. You patiently listened to all my complains, and every time, you assured me that it was ok to quit and follow my dreams. I was worried about the finances, and you promised you will take care of us.

Finally, the day I broke down, you held me in your arms and once again assured me that you will always be there for me, no matter what I do. Finally, with all your support, I quit my job and started my online business. I felt guilty investing into my business, but you never made me feel dependent. On the other hand, you stopped eating out and you stopped buying new clothes, so I can invest all that money into my business. You even replaced your dream car with a cheaper car to save some money.

Yesterday, when you left for the airport, our little boy sat on the sofa with a sad face. You know the same boy, whom I call a Robot, because he never shows his emotions. Well, this time it was different. When I asked him what happened, with tears in his eyes, he said, “I will miss Daddy”. My heart just broke into a million pieces, and I made myself a promise that I will do everything in my power to bring you home.

You have always travelled for work, but this time it is going to be long-term. And I know that all that we have learned during these years will help us grow even stronger.

I remember when we first started our long-distance relationship twelve years ago, and my first month’s phone bill was $1,000. That was really long-distance (7,573 km to be exact, from England to Canada long), but we just fell in love with each other. I think those 7 months of phone calls really connected us on a deeper level.

And that’s the spirit we need to rekindle to ride out this next phase of our life too. I love all the little things we do to keep our relationship alive and the love strong; even when you are not physically here.

So, as we begin our new “long distance” journey, I thought I would share a few rules we established to ensure our sanity during your travels.

Rule Number 1
​Always say “Good Morning” and “Good Night” and lots of “I Love You”

Everyone knows communication is the key to any relationship, but it is easier said than done.

Remember, a few years ago, I made the rule of texting “Good Morning” and “Good Night”. Depending on where you were travelling and the time difference, you would not call me in the morning because you did not want to wake me up. I know your intentions were good, but once you reached office, you got so busy that we didn’t talk until lunch time. So, I made the rule of texting “Good Morning” and “I Love you” every morning as soon as we wake up. Whoever wakes up first sends the text message.

Also, once our son was born, sometimes I fell asleep while putting him to bed, which meant we missed our night time calls. Or sometimes, you would be on a business dinner that would run late. So, we had the same rule of sending a “Good Night” message regardless of the time. If the other person was still awake at that time, we would turn our texting into a phone call.

I love when you always find time to talk to our son when you are away. I know he hates talking on phone (I don’t know which side of the genetic pool that comes from – definitely not mine), but you still try your best. I really feel your pain when he doesn’t reply while you are trying to have a conversation with him. Wish I could teach him some of these rules… lol.

Tip: Being away does not mean you cannot stay connected. We miss our partners most when we first wake up or when we go to bed, so make sure you are connected at those times.

Rule Number 2
Appreciate Each Other

In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie points out the fundamental principles of handling people.

  • First principle: do not condemn or criticize people
  • Second principle: always give honest and sincere appreciation.

I love this second rule that you always follow (and I sometimes forget). Honestly and sincerely appreciate each other.

We never miss an opportunity to appreciate everything that the other person does in the relationship and in running the household. The little thank you notes from you make my day, even when I am having a bad day. I want to take this opportunity to tell you that I really appreciate your sacrifice in being away from your family so that we can lead a comfortable life. And thank you for appreciating all that I do in raising our son. Luckily, you are very good at getting flowers delivered (a trick that always works…).

Tip: Be grateful for all that your partner does for you and the family. Finding different ways to appreciate is also very important: post on social media, send a quick text message, send flowers, or just say it on the phone. Key is to do it as often as you can.

Rule Number 3
Never compare our lives

It is very hard to not compare our days when you are away, but we have learned not to do that.

After our son was born, I really struggled with this rule. And after having a few arguments, we learnt our lesson. From my perspective, you had it easy. I complained that you just go to a restaurant and someone brings hot food to your table. I complained that you get a full-night sleep in your beautiful hotel room.

From your perspective, you were missing out on holding your son, you missed his smiles, his giggles, and all his milestones. You were lonely in the hotel room and you were ready to give anything to be with us.

So, after a few arguments (mostly from my side), we realized that we both had the short end of the stick. So, we learnt never to compare each other’s days. I think this is an unspoken rule – we never really talked about it. We just learnt not to do that.

Tip: We always judge others based on our own perspective, but our perspective is not always the right perspective. So put yourself in your partner’s shoes, before you judge them.

Rule Number 4
Division of Labour

We all know that running a household is a lot of work. But you always made sure that you did your fair share even if you were physically absent. Even if I am the one physically doing the household chores, you make sure I have everything I need. You always get the groceries, do the laundry, take out garbage, wash the car, and make sure gas is full (my friends call me a princess because I have never ever filled up my gastank).

You also take full responsibility of all the paperwork: expired registrations, expired passports, filling up any applications, paying bills, registering our son in classes, keeping track of finances and taxes, remembering all appointments and deadlines, etc. I would probably miss all my appointments, and end up stranded on a highway without gas, if you didn’t do all that you do.

Tip: Never accuse each other that they are not doing their fair share of work. Instead, spend time to come up with a plan and divide the work equally amongst yourselves. There’s a lot of things the partner who is away can still do to help the one who is at home, specially when there are kids involved.

Rule Number 5
Spend quality time together

And last but not the least, thank you for calling me every opportunity you get, even when it is during your 2-minute bathroom break at a conference.

And I love the phone calls when we just do mundane tasks together. Whether it’s while I am cleaning the kitchen and you’re registering our son for his next swimming class, with the phone on speaker. I love just listening to the sound of your keyboard and I am sure you enjoy the sound of running water in the sink.

And my most favourite part is our online Scrabble games with the phone on speaker. Those calls are a bit long (about 2-3 hours), but it is a very long game when you put two very competitive people together.

Tip: It is important to spend as much quality time together as you can. Talk on phone for at least 30 minutes to an hour every day. It could be one long call or multiple short calls. Watch the same movie together while on Facetime or Skype or play an online game.

So, let’s see if our rules stand the test of time, and how this new chapter in our life unfolds.

Your wife and partner-in-crime

I would love to hear from you all. Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? What challenges did you face? How did you overcome those challenges? Did you come up with some rules like us or did you just wing it?

Here are our rules once again:
Rule 1: Always say “Good Morning” and “Good Night”
Rule 2: Appreciate each other
Rule 3: Never compare your lives
Rule 4: Division of Labour
Rule 5: Spend quality time together

Hats off to all the moms and dads who sacrifice so much for their families and their kids. Remember, you are doing everything in your power, so be nice to yourself.

Miles Apart, But Close At Heart: 5 Rules of Long-Distance Relations