Four years. That’s how long I was in a long-distance relationship with my now-husband, Spencer. Four whole years.
Throughout these years, I studied history in Boston while he studied engineering in Colorado. I spent my weekends at museums and at the beach, while he glided down mountains on his snowboard. We were interested in very different things, had completely different friends, and went months without seeing each other. How did we survive?
No matter how many people said that our relationship was destined to fail, it only became stronger with every passing year. Though my friends and family encouraged me to date other people and fully immerse myself in my life in Boston, I couldn’t imagine sharing my life with anyone else. A long distance relationship, despite the growing pains and nights of crying to my roommates, was the best thing that could have ever happened to us.
If you’re in this position right now, don’t lose hope. Here’s a few thoughts on how and why we made it work:
Our Independence Refined Us
As two very independent people, we were able to grow and develop our individual characters organically. Since we didn’t spend every waking hour together, as many college couples do, we had the advantages of singlehood to make new friends, travel to new places, and take time-intensive jobs. We knew it wouldn’t always be that way, so we took full advantage of it.
The Struggle Made Us Stronger
The challenges grew us in ways we never would have known had we lived in the same town. We had to fight for our relationship every single day, and because of that, we became intensely loyal to one another. Infidelity was out of the question. This was probably one of my greatest fears about going long-distance because we were constantly surrounded by really great people who, in all honesty, would have made great boyfriends/girlfriends. Whenever we considered this, though, no one ever measured up to what we already had. Our relationship had been built upon values we wouldn’t abandon: trust, loyalty, honesty, and respect. These values were so important to each of us that they led us to make a conscious choice, every single day, to invest in our relationship.
Communication—Our Greatest Weapon
When you’re in a long distance relationship, it is easy to let all of your most refined and developed communication skills fall to the wayside. Out of sight, out mind, right? Probably one of the major reasons why we succeeded was that we didn’t fall victim to this. We recognized the value in being able to communicate our feelings, our dreams and fears, and our day-to-day happenings in the best possible way, and committed ourselves to mastering this wholeheartedly.
We learned the in’s and out’s of our communication styles by trial and error. He isn’t as much of a talker, and I seem to have an endless amount of words. It took a long time to figure out what worked best for us, but I wouldn’t trade those growing pains for anything. Our marriage rests on a foundation of communication, and we are stronger today because of those years we spent experimenting and learning more about one another.
If you’re presented with a relationship that may become long distance, I’d challenge you to reflect on your character before calling it quits. Are you independent? Are you willing to commit? Will you face the challenges head on? One should never cower away from love because of fear. You might just lose the greatest treasure you’ll ever know.
Image via Oh Pioneer!