I am definitely by no means an expert in long distance marriage (I’m more of a novice actually), but many of you have been asking me about surviving a long distance relationship. Here are some little things I’ve learned in the last few months. I’d love to hear your thoughts too, because many of you out there have been doing LDR for much much longer.
As some of you may know, Matt moved to San Francisco in October to start a new job, and I’ve been in NYC finishing up my last year of residency. We’ll be doing the long distance thing for about 10 months until I move back to California this August. I’ve never done long distance before, much less long distance marriage, so I’ve definitely had to learn to adapt. Here are a couple things I’ve learned from this process, from my friends and coworkers who are also in long distance relationships, and from Matt:
- Your phone plays a vital role. My iPhone = pretty much my whole communication with my husband when we’re apart. One rule I’ve tried to follow is to always pick up his phone calls, even if it’s just to pick up and say that I’m in the middle of something and will call back. I think being able to connect even for a few seconds is better than being sent to voicemail and risk either of us feeling ignored. Obviously I don’t pick up if I’m at work but I always try to call back whenever I’m next free.
- Set up a routine. We are both busy and Matt’s work schedule is actually crazier than mine. It ends up helping that he’s 3 hours behind, because by the time I’m going to bed he’s just leaving work! We try to facetime every night for 30 minutes. If the timing doesn’t work out, then we try to talk on the phone for at least 15 minutes.
- Be intentional about meeting up. Matt and I have been lucky to have seen each other every 2-3 weeks since he left…and none of these were extra trips! I was already traveling back to California multiple times for job interviews, vacation, and weddings. He also joined me for the dermatology conference in Maui and will be joining me in San Diego for AAD. It’s a LOT of traveling and is pretty exhausting but the sacrifice is worth it.
- Incorporate each other into your daily routine. My coworker Loren gave me this tip. I haven’t been diligent about it because it’s a mad dash out the door once I wake up, but in theory, this is a great idea. She takes a selfie everyday showing her outfit of the day, and texts it to her boyfriend. This way he can feel like he is a part of her day.
- Write it down. When Matt first left NY he wrote a handful of cards to me and hid them around the apartment. I found them over the next few weeks, in my bathroom cabinet, a kitchen drawer, our bulletin board, etc. Reading them made me tear up but also feel closer to him. The next time he visited, I also wrote a handful of cards spaced out for the number of days we’ll be apart, and I wrote the dates he should read them on the envelopes. It’s funny because now in the digital age we rarely hand write things, but I find it more meaningful to have feelings written down in a way that I can look back on time and again when I’m feeling lonely.
- Look for the silver lining. The silver lining in our case is that we are both pursuing our dream careers, and the fact that we’re apart means we have even more time to focus on on work! I get to study more and work on more research. I also get to spend more time with my friends and explore the city with them. In Matt’s case, he is working at a start up that is VERY demanding of his time. He is working around 12 hours a day, and if I were there, that schedule would not be sustainable! The fact that we’re on opposite coasts makes it possible for him to grind in his position and achieve all that he can. I fully support that!
- Focus on personal growth. I’m an extrovert by nature, so I tend to draw my energy from being around others; getting used to being alone has been challenging but also refreshing. This past Saturday I didn’t even speak to another person in real life until 7 pm! That is really out of the ordinary for me, but I actually kind of liked having a chill Saturday. I ran along the Hudson River, made a big breakfast, studied, and watched TV. I fully relaxed and recharged and I’m starting to learn how to appreciate alone time.
As I said at the outset, I’m new to this whole long distance marriage thing. Many of you have kindly offered your tips, and I’d love to hear from you here: what advice do you have for making a long distance relationship work?