Our latest guest blogger Molly discusses her long distance relationship and the steps she and her husband have taken to cope better.
Expat Experience of a Long Distance Relationship
My expat experience so far has been defined by a long distance relationship. To explain my situation further I must first start by saying that I am not really an expat, more an expat-in-the-making. I am from (and still in) the UK, my husband is US-born and that is where I will be moving to in the not-so-distant future. So, the entire build-up to becoming an expat has been about maintaining my marriage over 3000 miles and too many years apart.
Having fairly recently joined the expat blogging community, I have found that many expats have gone through a long distance relationship (LDR) and there is a wealth of support to be found. I have been sharing my experiences too, in the hope that it will help and encourage others through what I can only describe as a uniquely stressful time apart from loved ones.
In this guest post I aim to explain a little more about how my husband and I have remained close and what we have found has worked for us. Our experiences will not reflect everyone's LDR experiences, but they may go some way to helping people understand it or give hope to others.
In the very beginning, when we were first apart, my husband and I did not feel at all worried about being apart as we assumed that it would only be a matter of months before we were back together again. How wrong we were. It was when we realised that things will take longer, mainly due to our lack of understanding of the emigration / visa process and numerous delays with paperwork that we had to adjust our mind-set. We quickly realised that we had to work at maintaining our marriage to try and keep it as normal as possible. There were no concerns about fidelity or if our relationship could take the distance as we trust, love and respect each other implicitly - we would not have married each other if that was not the case - it was more about actually having a marriage. So, like other couples, we would grocery shop together (mobile phones are a great help with this), go on dinner dates (we cooked the same meal at home and ate it over the phone together), watch movies (select a movie - watch it separately then discuss it), send photographs of what we were doing / visiting etc. This was invaluable in sharing our lives together like other married couples.
In amongst all the 'normality', we were working on our visa paperwork which I personally found exceptionally stressful as it was / is so important to us and I did not want anything to go wrong. This did cause a few upsetting moments (mainly me getting snappy and emotional) so it became very clear that this could become a cause of marital discord. It is vital, in an LDR to recognise these moments / subjects and deal with them straightaway. My husband and I spoke about how we did not want it to become all we had to talk about. Together we came up with a solution that worked for us - set aside a time, whenever needed, to talk 'business'. By calling it business, it meant we could look at it objectively and not have it become our entire marriage. This has been a great help with being apart and striking a balance with working on getting to be together and actually being together even though we are so far apart.
This is just a small look into the life of my LDR, but I hope it has been interesting and useful. If you want to read more about me, my LDR or our visa experiences, then have a look at my blog and leave a comment / question. I always respond as I am keen to help others.