In the past, it was largely uncommon for couples to live distance apart. The belief then was that out of sight was truly out of mind. Then, people would gladly give up juicy employment opportunities and any other thing necessary just to live with their spouses. They believed that it was a matter of necessity for couples to live together for the marriage to work, and that anything short of that could crash the union.
But now, so much has changed. Couples now live far apart, and in some cases, they live in different countries, usually out of job demands or education pursuit. It is even more so as women now form a significant percentage of the workforce unlike how it used to be.
Interestingly, there have been divided opinions as to which is better, between living with one’s partner under the same roof or living distance apart.
A study conducted by researchers from Queen’s University and University of Utah in the United States found that long distance relationships tend to have positive outcomes, against people’s belief. They found that, all things being equal, couples in such relationships tend to communicate more, share more intimate thoughts with each other and nurture the relationship than those who live together and tend to take things for granted. This is even more so as no couple can be in distant relationship forever.
One of the researchers, Dr. Karen Blair, a psychologist, said, “From our findings and interactions with participants, comprising couples who live together and those who live apart, we found that the further apart the couple was, the better they were doing with respect to satisfaction, intimacy and communication. Long-distance forces the couples to work on some of the areas of relationship maintenance that geographically close couples may take for granted, and often overlook.”
On the other hand, some people believe the best way to have marital happiness is for couples to live together, no matter the circumstance, especially given the benefit of meeting each other’s sexual needs anytime the need arises.
Regardless, given that it is sometimes inevitable for some couples to live apart, there are tips that can help such persons to make the most of their times apart:
Stay in touch moderately: It is a given for couples who live apart to think the best way to make their relationship work is for them to talk or chat many times a day, but this might not be true. No doubt, communication is vital in this kind of relationship, and the absence of it can bring the marriage to an end quickly, but some experts have observed that such couples should avoid excessive and unsustainable communication. They explained that once the two persons are already used to talking or chatting many times a day, anything short of that frequency from one person could send a wrong signal to the other person. As a way out, a post on wikihow advised such couples to understand their partner’s preferred mode of communication and work around their schedules to create time for their partner. It added, “If you know you’re going to be too busy to communicate, let your partner know in advance and try to stay in contact as best as you can. If you’re not as busy as your partner, remain flexible and focus on something of interest to you.” Also, such persons are advised to make sure they say hello to each other in the morning and at bedtime. And from time to time, couples are also advised to share pictures, exchange video calls, share audio messages to strengthen the intimacy.
Always open up to your partner: While this is closely related to the previous point, it serves another purpose entirely. Findings have shown that people tend to develop intimate relationship for people they confide in, which is often a product of empathy. Thus, couples in distant relationships are advised to share every, yes every, of their thoughts with their partners, no matter how trivial or mundane it is. This is because once a man or woman has another person of the opposite sex they can confide in, that could lead to gradual alienation of affection, leading to diversion of thoughts and perhaps infidelity. So, as a way out, the post advised that such couples should talk about everything as if they live together, including going for shopping, when cooking or eating, when going to have a bath, etc., so as to promote the feeling of interdependence and boost their relationship.
Reach a compromise: According to a developmental psychologist, Prof. Esther Akinsola, even though it is unavoidable for couples to live apart sometimes, it could be a very difficult experience. Thus, such couples should agree on how frequently they should visit each other and ultimately work towards staying together “even if one of them needs to change job.” She said it is even more important if they already have children. She added, “If they already have children, they have to do something that would bring the family together. As a developmental psychologist, I can tell you that a child needs the input of a father and a mother to have a balanced growth. You cannot be a father and you are several kilometres away from your children and they don’t see you. All they know is that they have a father. That is not going to help that child. So, people who live apart must plan ahead on how to come together eventually.”
Visit each other frequently: To avoid being a victim of that popular saying that out of sight is out of mind, couples are advised to visit each other at every given opportunity. And according to Akinsola, the need for frequent visitation in this case could not be overemphasised. She said it would even be helpful if they agree on a definite schedule that both of them could look forward to.
Never forget important events: Findings have shown that one of the many ways to assure a partner that the love they have for each other is intact is for couples to keep track of notable dates, because people could become very touchy when important dates, like birth dates and wedding anniversary are forgotten. Experts said forgetting a partner’s birthday could make the partner feel forgotten or unimportant. And in such cases, they noted that such oversight could be unforgivable. So, as a way out, make good use of your reminder to keep track of notable dates to reassure your partner of your love. This goes along with rendering support for each other, even from the distance. The post on wikihow added that couples need to make themselves available when needed so their partner would know they care. “If your partner ends up dealing with important issues alone, your partner will eventually not need you,” it added.
Discuss your expectations: One issue that facilitates distrust and causes ripples in many homes is when expectations are not met. And this can be worse when couples are far apart. For example, the woman might expect a phone call from the husband thrice a day, while the man might think once is good enough. This variation could breed conflict in the marriage. Hence, as a way out, Akinsola advised that both of them need to agree on what their expectations are, which would make it easier to measure their respective commitments to each other.
Discuss your sexual needs: It will be unrealistic and somehow deceptive for couples living apart to shy away from discussing their sexual needs, because it is an important issue in marriage that must be discussed. Thus, a post on lifehack.org advised that couples should keep their fantasies alive and plan ahead of their next meeting. It added that they could send each other “teasing texts filled with sexual innuendos and provocative descriptions.”
Do away with jealousy: To some, jealousy is seen as a symbol of true love, and living apart could reinforce such doubt, even based on mere suspicion, but for the sake of the relationship, people in distant relationships are often advised to trust their partners. Believing that a partner would remain faithful is one good way to operate in an atmosphere devoid of rancour and it helps to trust, which is often described as a basic ingredient for a successful relationship.
Other tips suggested by the post included knowing how to apologise, making sacrifices to make the partner happy, avoiding threats of giving divorce, respecting each other’s differences and opinions, give each other pet names and keeping each other updated on each other’s friends and family.
The post also advised such couples to stay positive, give their partner a personal object to hold on to, to enhance remembrance and fondness, stay honest with each other, do things together, like watching the same programme at the same time and be familiar with each other’s schedule and goals. (Punchng.com)