6 Ways Our Marriage Got WAY Better By Being Away From Each Other

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marriage got better with distance
Family

We suspected the distance would stress us more, but it had a pleasant side-effect.

There are very few game-changers in a relationship that is as powerful and irreversible as having kids. As cliché as it may sound, life is never the same again after the little fellows arrive and decide to tow you everywhere. It is only by sheer nature's miracle that most parents actually look forward to and enjoy the crazy unpredictability of being parents.

After a decade of parenting together, I was suddenly left to do it alone as a single parent. His new job took him to another city, and my daughters and I would see him only once or twice every month. Technically, I became a single parent.

I expected my life to become even crazier than before — and it did. But what I did not expect was that this forced separation from my husband would be a great leveler for us and our long-distance relationship.

Here's how our marriage got better with distance.

1. We welcomed the differences.

As parents, we are emotionally invested in this long-term project of raising our kids. Parenting is fun, satisfying, and very enriching, but it's not easy.

My partner and I often express very strong opinions about various things. Raising our kids was no different. There were days when we fought over our differences; on better days we just agreed to disagree.

With my husband gone for most of the time, I felt burdened with all the decision-making I had to do. I felt a sudden loss of anchor because I missed all his solid arguments and debates. Even though we differed, we never doubted the fact that we both wanted the best for the kids.

Earlier, when the boat rocked, I had always taken his presence for granted at the other end. Now, it was only me veering the boat and calling the shots. I felt a renewed sense of respect for our differences and welcomed them with an open mind.

2. We acknowledged the struggle.

My husband was always an involved dad, but I made a choice to quit my job and put more time into my growing family (while pursuing my writing). Even though it was my own decision, I wanted validation, if only from my partner. I wanted open appreciation from him. I wanted him to say, “You being around makes so much of a difference to us!”

He was a man of few words, so it never happened. However, once he was forced to visit us only occasionally, I saw more of that glint of appreciation in his eyes. I don’t know if he did that because he now understood what it means to give up one thing for the other. He was experiencing a similar situation to mine, just that he had flipped work for his family.

3. We let petty things be petty.

When we had the luxury of time, we would go on endless debates about annoying things, which assumed gargantuan importance only because of our own bloated sense of ego. Our arguments were about the same things as thousands of other couples: disapproval of certain habits, splitting responsibilities, money.

With our schedules forcing only a few hours of time together, it became easier to sift the grain from the chaff and avoid fights by being open and understanding about the other’s perspective.

4. We focused more on the little things.

Earlier, we nursed this tendency to take a little love for granted. I suddenly noticed how he played my favorite song just before we sat down for lunch. I noticed how gently he woke me if I nodded off while watching something. I noticed when he charged my phone and changed the bed covers.

I suddenly noticed the little things because the little things ceased to happen when he wasn’t around. And our marriage got better with distance because of the focus on the small things.

5. It took us back to our honeymoon phase.

One of the best parts of single parenting was how every weekend was filled with anticipation for him coming home. I loved the undercurrent of excitement mixed with a feeling of comfort that accompanied the thought that he would be home, much like the days before we tied the knot.

At this point, what I most loved was watching the kids voice their excitement over their father coming home. There would be "I love you daddy" cards, little letters for him with significant happenings over the week tucked away as "surprises."

In the event of his canceling a return home, it was a strangely comforting feeling to watch the kids air their eagerly for the presence of their dad. Crestfallen faces, hunched shoulders, aloof moments became the norm, usually followed by a fake cheerful "next time" by me.

6. We became best friends all over again.

That phase of separation in our marriage took us back to being friends, more than just a “spouse” or “the other parent.” We stopped being busy and started connecting by talking — really talking — by putting away our phones, turning off the television, and cherishing the time to be silly all over again.

It is true that every relationship needs work, even if the people involved are very compatible. Sometimes, that work simply translates to “less is more.”

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Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha, a happy place to jumpstart conversations around family and millennial parenting, living in India. You can find her voice on the Huffington Post, LifeHack, Parent.co, Addicted2Success, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Tiny Buddha, Sivana East and others on a range of topics. You can get yourself equipped for happy parenting with one hack a week for an entire year (each one backed by science).