Maintaining a marriage is no easy task. Add in the military and a whole lot of distance, and you have a marriage that sometimes feels impossible. And it’s extra tough to make a marriage work when you’re not even in the same state or country or time zone.
Whether for a deployment or training, separation is a huge part of all military relationships. Regardless of how challenging it may be, there are many ways to make a long distance relationship work and master the long distance “I love you.”
How to Master the Long Distance “I Love You”
Learn each other’s love language. This is a big one. If you’ve never heard of author Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages” go read it now. In it Chapman discusses the five different ways couples perceive love in a relationship. When you are separated from your spouse, it’s important to understand what they need to feel loved, even across the miles. If your spouse loves hearing “words of affirmation,” it wouldn’t hurt to send sweet and love-filled letters to them a few times a week.
Send care packages and snail mail. I know this is totally “old school” and some may even say it’s a bit lame. But I’m the type who loves receiving packages and letters in the mail. It’s always a treat to find something on my front steps or in my mailbox, waiting for me when I get home. You can send them for birthdays, holidays, special occasions, the Super Bowl, or just because you feel like it. There are so many unique care package ideas out there for every occasion imaginable.
Don’t forget the little things. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. This past October, my husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, he was stationed overseas for it so we weren’t able to celebrate it together like a “normal” couple. And, yet, he found time in his busy day to text me, “Happy anniversary,” at midnight my time. It wasn’t a giant bouquet of flowers, or a romantic evening out, but it let me know he had been counting down to our special day, even thousands of miles apart. Over the course of a day, he’ll text me randomly to ask how I’m doing, or what my day has been like. To some, this may be a tiny and meaningless thing, but for us, it has value.
Video chat whenever possible. Of course this may not always be an option, but if you’re able to, then video chat as often as you can. Seeing my husband’s face and hearing his voice is always a million times better than reading words on a screen. You can even use this time to have a long distance date night. Watch a movie or television show together, or eat dinner. Just a few weeks ago, we watched the AFC Championship football game, even though we were 7,500 miles apart. It almost makes things feel normal.
Say “I love you”. Seems simple, right? My husband is the type who believes that it should be a given that he loves me and doesn’t feel the need to say it often. But, for me, I want to hear the words. Actually hearing him say he loves me and misses me or that he’s looking forward to seeing me, means everything to me. I love sending and receiving random “I love you” texts throughout the day because they always make me smile. They still give me butterflies like they did when I was first falling in love with him.
Again, it’s the little things that mean the most sometimes.
Although there’s no way around the distance that comes with being part of a military relationship, there are so many ways to connect with your significant other and master that long distance, “I love you,” whether it’s a simple text message, sending packages to one another, or having a virtual date night. It’s always possible to make these military challenges work.