Want your LDR to go the distance? Here's how to stay connected when you're apart.
Dating across the miles is one thing, but formally (and legally) saying "I do" to this type of lifestyle takes a long-distance relationship to a whole new dimension.
The good news is, research shows commuter marriages work well if couples consciously take steps that set their relationship up for success.
A recent study by Northwestern University revealed that partners who live at a distance actually experience health benefits. Spouses residing 50-plus miles apart, compared with those who see each other regularly, appear to enjoy better overall health — eat better, exercise more, and experience lower levels of anxiety, depression and fatigue.
This impressive list of benefits is likely the result of combining the freedom of being single with the loving, support of a life partner.
Surprising Perks of Long-Distance Marriage
WebMD identified additional surprising perks to living apart —the distance apart apparently helps keep the relationship fresh and less taken for granted. Reunions are romantic and hot, as couples make up for lost time. Living solo while apart also builds confidence and gives partners space to nurture their individual interests.
So what helps long distance marriage work? In a HuffPoLive segment, psychotherapist Dr. Tina Tessina says trust is a prerequisite if partners hope to stay together. Good communication is also essential, along with talking things over openly. And an big-picture goal or end plan is also important. The distance is more tolerable, it seems, if you know how long the two of you will live separately Keeping an "end" in sight helps couples get through challenging days.
If you're thinking about trying a long-distance or commuter marriage, here are 8 tips to help keep your relationship happy:
1. Set Rules. Discuss everything that might come up and have a plan to deal with it. For example, should your partner turn down all invitations from the opposite sex or are work lunches with colleagues of the opposite sex OK? Would boundaries and communication do you need in place so everything is above board? When you're both home together, can you spend time with friends without each other? Bring up these situations and discuss them, at length, and agree on how you'll handle them in advance. The good news is this exercise strengthens trust and helps both partners feel more secure.
2. Communicate Often. Technology makes it easy to keep in touch. Seeing each other face-to-face (even on a screen) is very important, so take advantage of video chats through Skype, Google hangouts or your smart phone. Talking on the phone is obvious and texting is good for a quick check-in. However, don't fall into a pattern of texting as your main method of communication because it lacks intimacy. Also, don't overlook the pleasure, romance, and intimacy of a hand-written card, letter or even a little note tucked into a travel bag. Communication they can touch brings a big smile to your spouse's face.
3. Talk About the Little Things. It's easy to share the big news, but the little things help you stay intimately connected. Tell your partner about what happened with the neighbors or events with friends and family. Share funny tidbits about your work day or an interesting thing that happened while commuting. Call each other before you go to sleep, so you can talk just like you would if you were in bed at the end of the evening.
4. Watch TV Together. Even though you're not on the same couch, you can still watch your favorite show or sports game together. Text or email while it's on or talk during the commercials to share the experience the same way you would if you were together. There is a great and very sweet scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally where the main characters talk on the phone, while watching their favorite movie. So cuddle up while apart and share some screen time together.
5. Be Understanding. This is really important to keep your relationship solid. If you have time scheduled to talk and your spouse can't make it, be understanding. You can talk later or longer the next day. Expectations exist but be reasonable. The truth is having too many expectations in any relationship leads to disappointment and discontent. The more flexible you are and willing to roll with things, the better your relationship will hold up.
6. Share Feelings. Let your spouse know you love and appreciate them. Expressing your feelings regularly helps keep your bond vibrant. When you think this is unnecessary, you're withholding your love. To keep the flame burning, let your partner know their always desired and missed and let your honey know when you need the same reassurance.
7. Keep the Romance Alive. When you do see each other, make it romantic. Reunions are usually wonderful and keep your relationship energized and hot. Protect private time together for reconnecting and keeping that physical spark alive.
8. Try Virtual Sex. Living apart means you will miss out on regular intimacy. Some experts suggest paving the way for faithfulness and satisfying your needs with sexting, phone sex or video chat. You may have concerns about hackers and don't want your trysts to end up on the web. If you're very worried, stick to the phone so no visuals exist. On the other hand, many couples genuinely enjoy the, thrill and visual aspect and get creative to find pleasure in each other while away.