It’s never easy to be far from the person you are learning to love. In fact, I believe most of us would agree that to a heart that loves, time and distance can seem like eternity and space–both equally as disagreeable. And yet, distance isn’t the curse it sometime seems to be. Hidden in all those miles and in those secret tears of wishing that he was somehow beside us when we feel we need a strong shoulder to lean on, is a beauty that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Scott and I spent the entirety of our courtship and engagement separated by 1200 miles–he in Northern Idaho, and me in the Colorado Rockies. Of course we treasured each and every moment of those precious visit that we had together, but it was all those moments, days, weeks and months apart that taught us to make those together times really count.
I didn’t always like the distance. There were times when I wished, more than anything else, that he could just be there with me and be a part of my every day life, or that I could surprise him at work, or spend time with him digging in the gardens in the afternoon. Instead, counting down the days until our next visit seemed tedious, because the numbers were so big!
Now that we’ve been married for a grand total of 15 months in June, I savor every single moment I have with my beloved, because I know what it is like to not have him with me. I hope I never take any of those moments for granted. I am convinced that I appreciate his companionship much more than I ever could have, had I not spent time away from him.
Distance in love doesn’t have to be some impossible barrier that keeps two hearts from growing together, but it can be a pretty good test of the depth and the Truth of Love. It can be an opportunity to develop a foundation of effective and deep communication, and to cultivate friendship, which makes the flower of love all the sweeter when it does blossom. It can help pull the focus from being physically and emotionally driven, and give opportunity to evaluate what kind of love you’re developing in your relationship. It can help us build our foundation strong enough to last a life time, because we’ve already built them to last miles and miles apart.
Long distance relationships aren’t easy by any means. There are definite challenges that others who may not have to deal with miles on a regular basis won’t have in their relationships. But with those challenges come some unique blessings that aren’t easily obtained otherwise.
I think, of all the many bits of advice that I could give you from our experience, the two most important would be, keep your heart and your wishes, your growing dreams and affections, ever before Him who is the Author of True Love, and keep your relationship real.
If you feel that you have God’s blessing to pursue your relationship, you can be sure that He’ll give you grace and strength and wisdom to learn what you need to know before marriage–in spite of the miles. But this doesn’t mean you should be blind and not continue to place your relationship in His hands and be willing to let go if that is where He leads you.
Because of the miles, it is even more vital that you keep not only your eyes, but your ears as well, open for any red flags that may appear, and for anything that might be a sign of incompatibility in the one whom you are thinking to join your life to.
You may spend most of your relationship apart, where you can’t see body language or only get a glimpse of what a real day is like. This is why it is so important to be real to life in your relationship.
Don’t put your best foot forward, don’t try to be someone you aren’t. The man who will love you for the rest of your life will love you on your good days as well as your bad days, and love you for the person you really are. Be yourself, be honest: about your weaknesses, about your strengths, about who you are inside. Be open about the things that inspire you–your dreams as well as your fears.
When you’re together, make it a point to spend as much time living a real sort of life. Spend time working together. Spend time in groups, so you can watch how he interacts with others. Do whatever it takes so that you can know that you’ve done your best to get to know each other outside of romance, like you really are.
Learn to understand him: What are his friends like? What do they talk about? What captivates him? How does he treat other ladies when you aren’t right by his side? How does he treat his mother and siblings? This is your glimpse into how you will be treated, should you marry, so watch carefully!
Spend time with his family, alone. Can you picture yourself a part of the family long term? After all, it’s true–we often marry families, not just men.
Observing my man with his mom and brothers was definitely one of the things that won away any last reserve I might have had about the matter. I knew by the way that he selflessly tried to meet their needs–not just literally, but the quiet way that he won the respect and love of his brothers and parents–that I would not just be treated well, but the best in the world. It’s been true every day of our marriage.
I’m biased, but I think that every relationship should start with the basis of friendship. After all, if you can’t be friends, how can you expect love to last a life time? Know what matters, and hold on to those things with all your heart. The things that aren’t really important in the long run? Look for them while you’re courting, but if they don’t matter while you are, don’t remember them after you are married.
Scott and I became friends before we ever became lovers. Distance taught us important communication skills that have been so valuable to us in our marriage. (If you can’t communicate properly before marriage, don’t expect it to magically change once you’ve said your vows!) It taught us that there is so much more to a lasting relationship than the thrill that we got being together. Our relationship tended to be less emotionally driven, less focused on the physical aspects of love, than on the heart aspects of love.
And that thrill of being next to Scott? Distance, only holding hands a couple times and fewer “dates” than many couples had didn’t seem to do it any damage. I wholeheartedly believe that being able to honestly say that I am married to my best friend has something to do with the fact that I haven’t gotten over the thrills–and I hope I never do.
There is absolutely nothing better than spending my life with my very best friend. And someday, should we be blessed with our own children, we hope to pass on to them the beautiful lessons that distance taught their daddy and me.