It may sound a bit sad to hear my marriage defined as a “long-distance” relationship, but over the course of the past few years, it’s been that way more often than not. As a military family, we’ve been through our share of deployments, and my husband’s job for many years’ running has seen him spend nearly as much time on the road as he does at home.
Whether you’re a military spouse or you have a husband who travels frequently for business, you know that the constant separations can take a toll on a marriage. While we might wish for different circumstances, there does come a point of accepting what is, and learning to deal with where God has placed us. I am not discounting the difficulties, trust me, but as a military wife of 27 years, I have a few coping skills to offer you if you are also in a “long distance relationship”—your marriage!
- Stay connected however you can. Whether it’s phone calls, texts, video chats, or even e-mails or handwritten letters, continue to make your husband a part of each day however you can. When my husband was in Afghanistan for a year, we could not text or call on a regular basis. Weekly calls were short and more for hearing each other’s voices vs. truly catching up. What I did, however, was send an email at the end of most days (length varied on how exhausting my day had been!), with the little details of what the kids and I were doing. He often told me it was the little things he missed the most. When he wasn’t able to read email daily, he could catch up when he was able and feel like he knew what was going on with the rest of us.
- Make decisions together. Especially if you’re used to being alone, it’s easy to become so independent you don’t feel the “need” to check in or make decisions together. I’m not talking about the little day-to-day decisions you’ll simply need to handle, but including your husband in bigger decisions or things affecting the whole family. I’ve also learned to tell people pushing for an answer while he’s gone, “I’ll get back to you after I talk it over with my husband.” Reminding myself that I’m still in a partnership this way—out loud, to others—is a good reinforcement to myself that my marriage is a priority.
- Speak well of your husband. Your husband’s heart should be able to trust completely in you (Proverbs 31). He should know that, when he’s absent, you’re not complaining about him and you should have the same trust in return! One rule of thumb is to never discuss something about him you wouldn’t do if he was standing right there. And speaking well of your husband when he’s not around builds him up in others’ eyes.
- Pray for your husband. Though this may not seem like an “action,” it really is! Praying regularly for your spouse has the benefit of keeping your heart softened towards him. And by seeing him through God’s eyes, you’ll be reminded to lean towards mercy and grace without conditions. Pray for your marriage overall and your husband individually, even if you’re in the middle of a long-distance squabble—yes, these happen!
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help the other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?” (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, New Living Translation)