As Freddy wrote in
Long-Distance Love: A Gift from the Heavens:
“There are many types of love indeed, but to be blessed to have a true love from afar also has to be one of the hardest. There is an old saying that goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” You finally fall in love with someone that you can’t wrap your arms around each and every night as you would want to. Then, you have to start from the beginning and ask yourself: Are you really in love at all?”
Freddy and I are blessed to know the meaning and experience of real and lasting, unconditional love. However, it’s true that nothing in life comes easy, and anything worth having is worth waiting for. It’s a personal choice and sometimes a very conscious choice that takes time and effort. But when you find yourself in a relationship worth keeping, it’s important to make that choice as early and as firmly as possible. In other words, either you’re in, or you’re not. You’ve got it, or you don’t. You put the time in, or move on. Moving on is not the same as failing. No one should judge anyone else’s relationship. And long-distance relationships in particular don’t work for everyone. But if you’re in it for the long haul, here are 3 things you must have to make your relationship work.
It sounds simple, and it is. But life has a way of putting up roadblocks, circumstances, negativity, worries, other people’s opinions, and so on. Any number of things can cloud your judgment and make you lose focus on how much you care for your partner. However, that focus on how much you do care is essential, and without it, no relationship can last, whether you’re separated by a moment, a job, or months at a time.
You can have all the care in the world. But without the commitment to express it, it’s just lip service. The phrase “put up or shut up” comes to mind. We’re not talking about renting a plane to write romantic messages in the sky. But without some level of commitment in the relationship, you are separated by much more than distance.
In our case, we both knew we wanted a long term relationship. We didn’t start out looking for that with each other. But deep down we knew we didn’t want a fling, someone to party with, friends with benefits, or anything less than an exclusive, monogamous relationship. If you and your partner are not on the same page with your relationship goals, it may be time to move on. On the other hand, if you can agree on the type of commitment you want, and are willing to give, your relationship will be that much stronger.
I can’t emphasize this enough. Sadly I know couples who live in the same house and sleep in the same room, spending all their days and nights together, who never truly communicate. And it shows in their relationship. They may argue. Or give each other the all-too-noisy silent treatment. Either way the culprit is a lack of communication.
In our age of technology, we have absolutely no excuse not to communicate. It’s no big deal to post pics to your friends on social media; text your doctor, your lawyer, and your mom all in less than a minute; and schedule a meeting by video chat, all while balancing a cup of coffee between your legs (by the way, don’t do that!) We can do all these things virtually without thought, while listening to a podcast or watching a video. And the key is, we think nothing of it. So why can’t we remember to check in with the person we claim to love?
You’ve all got it easy. You can text, chat, post, swipe, tap, and click your way to all kinds of connections. In other words, you have no excuse for the silent treatment. Freddy and I have always had two things: email and phone calls.
That’s right. I said email and phone calls. No text, no chat, no video chat because we can’t see, no social media content, no posting, no likes and shares, no snapping, crackling and popping (Ok, I’m getting carried away here.) But you get my point. For us every conversation has had our full attention.
And in a very real sense, it’s the attention, not just the act of communicating, that has kept us together. It’s easy to communicate. But it can be difficult to communicate clearly and well. Especially during stressful times, it’s important to choose your words carefully, be mindful of your partner’s feelings, and keep your finger far away from the hang-up button. We all make mistakes, sometimes repeatedly. But in a loving relationship, you can share your feelings, your needs, and ask for and receive forgiveness for those mistakes. Without good communication, this is virtually impossible.
Care, commitment, and communication. It couldn’t be simpler. And it couldn’t be harder. Relationships show us what we’re made of, and long-distance relationships do this exceptionally well. It’s character-building if you can bear it. And if you truly love someone, it’s worth every moment, every misstep, and every mile between you. Because sooner or later, Lord willing, your care, commitment and communication will bring you together physically as well.