Does it feel like you see more of your spouse on social media than face-to-face? Life’s demands can make it impossible to spend time together. Opposite work shifts, caring for aging parents, or job travel can set us up for extended time apart.
We went through a long, hard season when our kids were small. Rob’s position required months away from home every year. The physical distance between us began to chip away at the health and intimacy of our relationship. We didn’t recognize the warning signs of the danger of distance in marriage:
You divide and conquer:
Tasks are split between yours and mine. Rather than tackling decisions and to-do’s together, you delegate and go off to work on your own. Financial matters, parenting and child discipline, and future plans fall on one partner’s shoulders. You’re both stepping up and getting things done, but without the support and benefit of teamwork.
You text, not talk:
You’ve lost the art of conversation. A text or email takes the place of true connection. You touch base about what’s urgent or necessary, but miss out on the fun of laughter and romance. You can’t remember the last time you shared your hopes, struggles, or fears with your loved one.
You pull away:
You hold secret resentment as you wonder if you’re really first place in each other’s life. You go to someone else to meet your needs—kids, parents, or friends become the ones you lean on. You stop pursuing intimacy and closeness between you. There’s a ring on your finger, but you operate as if you’re single.
After ignoring these warning signs for months, we reached a point where we felt lonely, hurt, and exhausted. Changes both big and small were needed to find our way back to each other…
1. We started talking.
We turned off our phones, went out for coffee, and dug in deep. We shared our pain and disappointment. We apologized and asked for forgiveness. We dreamed out loud and set goals for our relationship and family life.
2. We committed to connecting every day.
Whether together or apart, we made sure to hear each other’s voices before we went to sleep.
3. We planned regular dates and time to be alone.
Even now we schedule a weekly date and a romantic night away every quarter.
4. Rob was willing to lay it all on the line.
He knew his constant travel was impacting his ability to love and serve his family well. He accepted a position at another company that allowed more time at home. This required a major move across the country for our family, but we found “us” again in the process.
Couples can have a successful marriage even with the challenge of distance between them. Keep talking. Support each other through daily struggles. Share in decision-making, planning, and problem solving as much as possible. Express your love in creative ways to keep romance alive. Do whatever it takes to make each other feel valued and cherished every day.