Oh boy, get ready 'cause it's a long one and we're getting a little personal up in hera!
I'm so excited for a big change to happen this January! After two and a half years, my husband and I will finally be back in the same place together again! That's right folks, we've been living a long distance marriage for a while and I am READY for that chapter to end!
It's not that we're a stranger to the long distance scene. Our whole relationship launched into the long distance column almost right away. I was working for a short term contract gig in Dallas, he just moved to Fort Worth, but oh hey now, I actually was based in OKC because I was working on my masters. Small problem when you find someone new who makes your heart go pitter-pat.
Once my job was done I saddled back up to the OKC area and happily found that we both wanted to see where this new relationship was going. We dated for a year and half across two states, another year and a half engaged and planning a wedding on opposite sides of the Dallas metroplex and finally packed our bags and headed up to the Oklahoma together.
Weekends are always perfect so that first year of marriage was a whole new experience of 24 hours, 7 days a week of sharing the same space. Life was great and as we moved steadily into year two, it became clear my husband wanted a new career path and I fully supported that. We started doing research and working towards some goals. A successful summer contract turned into an opportunity that had us making a choice: turn it down or take it and see what happens.
Well, he really wanted to chase this dream but it cost us being in the same place. But I didn’t want to leave my job. So at the top of wedded life, year three, I stayed in OKC and he moved back to Fort Worth. Long distance, round two.
Long distance is hard but I've seen it work time and again. It takes constant communication, clarity, honesty, and planned visits. Anyone will tell you that without those things, it's just not going to fly. We got to be great at all those things while we dated and during our engagement.
Married long distance? It's different. There's a combined home that's been divided up by nothing more than miles. It shouldn't be that hard, especially having gone through it before and yet, it was very hard. Living day to day life with someone actively involved with your life and then stepping back into a more digitally, cell phone based life, a person can really feel huge human interactive part missing.
It's meals alone, chores alone, outings alone, time alone, raising a puppy alone (If puppies are an eighth of the work that babies are then I am infinitely amazed at single mothers. Wow. You go ladies!). I am all for some alone time. I loved living by myself, truly, and I love having moments to myself to just do what I need. Living alone but married is not ideal.
In relearning that lifestyle, it was also a time to figure out how long this was actually going to last. Who was going to move? Do we both move to an entirely new place? How do we even begin to figure this out...lots of questions, lots of opinions...sometimes the opinions of others.
Here's a tip for folks looking at a long distance marriage of a friend or family member, your opinion is not needed. There, I said it plainly, clearly, and with a lot of love: don't offer your opinion up. Unless asked, don't give it because I guarantee the only opinions that are needed are the ones of the two people in that relationship. You may think the idea is great or terrible, but ultimately that's not your relationship, not your choice, not your business. Chances are you're actually putting more strain on that relationship and the individual people. Parent, grandparent, best friend, co-worker, it's not your place.
What that couple needs is support. A shoulder to cry on when it's hard, a good laugh when it's needed, an ear to listen, a hug, a "how are you" and a "let's get together." Better yet, ask what they need. It's hard keeping that opinion in--I get that, really--but try your best. Your long-distant-married friend will appreciate it.
In any case, we made it through year one, albeit that was the toughest year. Year two we started of trying to figure things out, what our future would be and finally made some decisions that have literally taken a year to make. Year three started with a full on plan of a final five months of long distance before the gap is closed! This whole plan has taken months to work through and get right and I'm pumped to see it happen and so is Pyro Man!
My man is moving back and going back to school for a second degree. I couldn't be more proud of him. We went from talking about what he would have majored in, what he actually wanted to do to actually making it happen. While this new adventure starts for him, we get to go back to being a married couple under the same roof. Holy. Hannah. I don't think life could get any sweeter really!
There's only one last thought I have on this whole thing and that is do I regret any of this long distance mess? Not a bit. It was incredibly hard--props to every military spouse out there that handles deployment! Seriously, my heroes. This was the biggest challenge we faced as a couple so far. It wasn't always pretty because it was not always easy. Going through it though really pushed us in a new level of commitment and that's what I'm grateful for. I'm grateful for the challenge that pulled us together when we were literally moving apart. An ironic twist of fate that's strengthened this marriage for sure.
Yes, relearning to live together is going to be tough, too. Trust me, the transition started when in September Pyro Man said, "I want to rearrange the whole house." Oh my Lord...the whole house, you say?! Good gravy...
If rearranging things means he feels more comfortable on this new adventure and it eases our transition, then rearrange I will. I'm grateful he's coming up and I'm happy to have my family together again in the same zip code. We're aware we've got some other challenges ahead--I'm pretty sure we can handle it all just fine though. Just find indeed.
Got any tips for us? Done the long distance marriage and something helped with the transition? Share it here--we'd love to know!