Yes it is time for a personal post. Yesterday marked exactly two months since I’ve been in the Middle East. Although there are MANY things that grind my gears here in Kuwait, the main one is the fact that my husband isn’t able to be here with me. Yet, I am still very happy with my marriage despite the obvious hardship of us not being in close proximity to each other. Honestly the hardest thing about the situation is actually other people and the things they feel they need to say.
The most frequent things I hear are:
“Are you guys still married?”
Wait you mean the diamonds currently on my ring finger aren’t any indication of my current relationship status?
“Wow I don’t know how you do it.”
That is why I am doing it, and you aren’t.
“You’re so lucky your husband lets you live apart from him.”
Yes thank goodness he gives me permission to do as I wish. It always helps when I clean my room and get good grades in my report.
My husband would die without me.
So what happens if you die first?
I really wish people would stop with their judgements and silly comments.
Many couples live apart for various reasons- careers, military service and studies are the most common reasons in an age where the world is literally our oyster and we have access to opportunities all over the globe. Considering my nomadic lifestyle, it isn’t the first time that Fox & I have lived in different cities, different countries or done long distance, but this is the first time we have done it since we got married.
Here are some realities of being in a long distance marriage:
- You actually talk. No I mean REALLY talk.
As a married person, I realized a harsh truth- although you can exchange words with someone everyday; it isn’t the same as having quality conversation. When you live apart, there is no point in the “What show will we watch tonight?” and “Could you please empty the bin?” conversations. Yay to no more small talk!
Suddenly you have to talk about all the highlights you’ve been saving up (especially if you don’t talk everyday) and of course, you start talking about your feelings A WHOLE LOT MORE. When you can’t give the person a hug, you realize how important it is to still let them know that you care.
The truth is that you talk far longer than normal couples do, because hanging up the phone and going to sleep means you have to leave them. It’s not fun to be separated. In fact, it’s pretty much absolutely agonizing. But it takes you to places you never thought you’d go with your significant other. As my husband said to me the other day, “We must have something special if, after 11 years, we can speak for over an hour and I still don’t like ending the call.”
Cue fuzzy feelings and fireworks in my head.
- You start feeling like a serious priority.
Of course when you live together, you know that you’re a priority in your significant other’s life. However, when you have to schedule a Skype date that navigates through different time zones, ensures that both of you are free for a reasonable amount of time and after sixteen dropped calls, you finally connect and make it work… yes you do realize how much you mean to your partner.
You also start evaluating your priorities. Would I rather go to a raucous barbecue or have a Skype with my husband? It really isn’t worth me going shopping to buy another pair of boots when I would come home too exhausted to chat to my husband. It’s all about feeling wanted and prioritising what is really important.
- Technology becomes your best friend.
I don’t think I ever really appreciated the Internet and technology as much as I do now. What did long distance couples do before FaceTime and Facebook? Seriously. I used to be so bad at texting; I think the extent of my texting with Fox consisted of messages such as, “Please buy milk”. But now- emojis are my friends, snapchat is my entertainment and those tags in loving quotes on Instagram can make my day.
When I was being tossed around departments at my school, I stood outside the HR supervisor’s office, ready to ask for my passport back so I could book a ticket back to South Africa. I was fed up of the administration treating my qualifications like used tissues and just being moved around like an unwanted chair. It was the instantaneous message from my husband saying, “Giving up and admitting defeat is not who you are” that made me walk away and ultimately, stay in Kuwait.
- You get the best of both worlds.
Suddenly you have heaps of free time on your hands. You can eat ice cream for supper and spend 3 hours at the gym (guilty as charged) simply because there is no reason to rush home. There is absolutely no need to feign interest when your partner wants to drag you to yet another superhero movie (what exactly was Deadpool about?) and you can buy 4 doughnuts and eat them all by yourself. Oh and best of all? No more awkward moments between you and your in-laws!
Being alone is exquisite, and it doesn’t matter if you’re in a relationship or single or married or divorced. You’re an individual. It’s nice to not have to stand alone, but you have to be able to, either way. And it’s much easier if you learn to love it. I have learnt to stop dwelling on how much I miss Fox and just take advantage of my alone time. I don’t have to be single to be independent, and it’s okay to enjoy my life without my husband.
Ultimately, living apart means that I am in no danger of morphing into one of those people who only use the pronoun ‘we’ and never do anything without their partner. I have my own job, social life and new interests but at the same time, I still have the emotional support and love from my husband. In any relationship, but especially in long-distance relationships, it’s important to understand that your partner has a life outside of the relationship. And once you both understand and accept this, it can be a win-win situation!
- You realise how committed you are.
One of my main realisations since Fox & I separated was that it means that if we can survive the distance, we can survive anything. With all the planning that goes into just talking, never mind the cost of trips to see each other as well as the lonely nights and dull ache of constantly missing them, it is easy to see why a long distance relationship requires 100% commitment from both parties. It also helps immensely if you aren’t a jealous, possessive person who isn’t constantly analysing and wondering what the other person may be doing. Ultimately if you are committed, you can weather any storm both together and apart. Living far away from each other forces you both to evaluate your lives and see what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you’re not willing to sacrifice for each other.
Long distance relationships are not for the faint of heart or feeble minded. It is all about mindset…they can be full of meaningless arguments, jealousy, sleeping alone, and second-guessing whether it is “really worth it.” Yes, being in a long distance relationship is difficult, but when it is with the right person, it isn’t half bad. In my experience it is teaching us a lot about ourselves, things we might not have figured out otherwise.