Hi everybody! I’m super excited to be sharing this interview with you guys today! H’s answers are thoughtful and honest and I had a great time reading them. As always with this series, please remember to keep comments positive and enjoy!
First off, hello! How did you meet your partner and how many years have you been together?
I’ve known G for nearly ⅓ of my life, we have been together for 10 ½ years. We met as freshmen in college. He lived one floor below me in the dorms. One of my friends was crushing on one of his friends, and while our groups often crossed paths, it was some time before G and I actually meet. When I did finally meet him, the first three things I found out about him was that he was Greek, liked to swim, and spoke French. I was hooked…
When and where did you get married?
We have been married for 2 years (on Sept 29th).
Since we don’t get to share any holidays with his dad’s side of the family, we decided to celebrate one major life event with them, so we got married in G’s hometown of Athens, Greece.
It was the most incredible wedding, better than I could have even dreamed I would want. And yes it was a bit like My Big Fat Greek wedding, except my dress was much, much classier.
Where do you live and where does your partner live? How many miles/hours apart are you guys?
I live in St. Paul, MN and G lives in La Crosse, WI. I tell him doing my taxes is one reason I married him, especially since we now have to file in two states. We are about 160 miles apart, which takes about 3 hours door to door (including a pit-stop along the route).
How long have you two been long-distance?
We’ve been doing a distance long relationship for longer than we done a close distance relationship. Out of our nearly 11 year relationship, we’ve only lived together for 2 ½ years.
We have gone from living one floor apart to opposite ends of a state, to opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean (when I was in France and he was doing his mandatory military service in Greece), to two different states (presently).
Why are you in a long-distance relationship?
We have been in a long distance relationship for work. G graduated one year after I did and our jobs have taken us to different cities. After two years living together in La Crosse I couldn’t handle being just a wife and receptionist and needed more of a challenge. Having looked for a job in La Crosse and the surrounding area with no luck, I started looking for jobs elsewhere. The job I have in St. Paul was just too good to pass up, it’s basically my dream job. It also opened a great opportunity for me to get a Master’s Degree as well. G and I are now both working on our Master’s degrees which we hope will open up some new opportunities in the same city for us.
G’s family has been apart on and off and I have an aunt and uncle who lived in Texas/New York so the idea of long distance isn’t completely foreign to either of us.
How often do you see each other?
About 3 weekends a month I drive down to La Crosse. Luckily I have a flexible boss and can squeeze in extra hours during the week to leave early on Friday. I can usually get home by 5:30 so I can make dinner for my husband (unless I’m feeling lazy then we got out). But I love to be able to do that wifely ‘duty’ and have a meal ready when he comes home. Then I wake up at an awful hour on Monday morning to drive back. But having Sunday evening and one more night snuggled with my husband is worth hearing the alarm at 4:30am (I treat myself to a sugar filled donut during my pit-stop heading north 🙂
Typically one weekend a month I am in the cities for a family event, and once in a while G drives up for that weekend.
What is the most difficult part of living apart?
It’s the little things, a kiss good morning, a hug after a long work day, someone to sit next to on the couch in the evening. Those times when I just can’t get the jar open so I just don’t have toast because I can’t open the jam jar.
Even in this day an age with phones, email, texting, Skype, etc there is no replacing face to face communication. Communication is harder, a bad connection on a phone call can really change the mood of a conversation. They say 60% of communication is non-verbal, so in a phone call a lot is missed and misinterpreted. G keeps an odd schedule, he’s a bit of an insomniac, so often he’s asleep early in the evening after being up late the night before. With various activities and now schoolwork there are many weeks where we don’t talk much and that makes the distance seem even further. We email short messages throughout the day and Skype if we don’t get to see each other on a weekend.
In our distance relationship, we got used to doing things separately and then talking about them. It took us about a year to get used to living together and now we’re back to distance. I often feel like we have moved backwards in our relationship. We had finally gotten a rhythm of doing things together, even figuring out how to grocery shop together was a hurdle to cross (I like an organized plan while he likes to decide while drooling at the meat counter).
And if we do have a conflict or disagreement, by the time we’re together again, it can’t really count as make-up sex.
What is a perk of living apart?
Surprisingly a lot of people think I have the best of both worlds, married but plenty of alone time. Maybe so, but 3 weekends a month is just not enough time.
I love having my own apartment, the toilet seat doesn’t have spray, the only mess around is my mess, no dirty laundry piles, I don’t hear him up at 2 am, I can have the sheets tucked in (he hates that), and we [don’t] have the exact same taste in music.
He’d say there is a lot less hair around, he’s not nagged to clean up after himself (he usually runs around straightening up on Fridays), and he can get guilt-free take out anytime (now that he knows to properly hide the evidence).
It gives G time to play computer games for hours on end, and I can watch the Bachelorette and knit without him judging my entertainment selection. In general I think there is also less complaining about work life, and daily work-related complaints.
The biggest positive is that we truly value the time we have together more than we did living together. We do more together on the weekends than we did in the past, even small things like running errands.
If you feel comfortable answering, how do you and your partner manage your finances with such different expenses?
We actually just combined finances a few months ago. Until then we had our own separate bank accounts and just ‘split’ expenses. G is really good with finances so the money is much better off in his hands, I’m like 401-what?
It has put a damper on our rainy-day funds as now we have two apartments and spend a lot on gas. We try to remember that the work experience and education we are gaining will get us further ahead in the future.
When do you anticipate being able to live in the same place?
I would love to have a date that I could look forward to when we know we’ll be in the same place, but there are too many variables.
Now that I have started my Master’s degree, I hope to be done in 3 years and find a job in La Crosse. G really likes his job in La Crosse and while it would never be my choice city by a long shot, home will be wherever we’re together.
Are you thinking of starting a family? If yes, would you wait until you were living together or would you consider having children now?
The easy answer is that it’s not in the plans to have children.
One of the reasons that we can have a long distance marriage is that we don’t have much tying us down to a location, we don’t own a house or have children. I would imagine having a long distance marriage with children would probably put one person as a ‘single’ parent. I’m sure it is possible but it would make the separation all the more difficult.
What advice would you give another married couple who are considering living separately for whatever reason?
If you think marriage takes patience, long distance marriage takes even more patience. Keeping up with small gestures is really important. It is not enough just to think about the other person, it’s a necessity show them you are thinking about them. There aren’t as many opportunities to say thanks, kiss, hug, high-five, or share any type of small moment of gratitude toward each other. Without these small daily moments it is easy to feel like you are on your own in the relationship.
I have a spot to leave him a note when I leave Monday mornings that completes the sentence “I love you because…” And he surprises me too, one weekend we had a fabulous surprise stay-cation in Minneapolis.
How is your relationship like everyone else’s? How is different (besides the obvious reason of living apart)?
The sex decreases at the same rate…when we first moved apart this last time the weekends were full of “sexy time”. We were so glad to be together again and wouldn’t get out of bed until late morning on Saturdays. But the novelty wore off and we are back to what I’m guessing is the norm of once maybe twice per week.
But maybe grad school can also be to blame…
Has anything happened to make you rethink the distance?
Once I was at a conference on a Friday and Saturday. I missed G’s calls Friday but the got his voice mails later that night, he was terribly sick with food poisoning. It was so awful to know that I couldn’t be there while he was stretched out on the bathroom floor feeling like death. As soon as I presented on Saturday morning, I drove straight down to La Crosse. Now it could have happened even while living together, but it made me think that it all seems manageable until there is an unexpected illness or accident. Worse than being alone is being alone sick. I now keep a stock of chicken-noodle soup, Kleenex, cold medicine etc so if one of us is sick we don’t have to run to the store for those comforts!
Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s not easy and I’ve shed many a tear over the situation. I often feel like a terrible wife choosing a career over my husband. I know it’s harder to be the one that is left behind, after all he has to live in our place without me (and has no one to cook him dinner in the evening).
But for us it makes sense. Our relationship has allowed us to grow into our own selves but at the same time our relationship is strong enough to see that individual growth as a positive.
At this point in our lives it is worth the distance and the undoubted strain on our relationship, but we know it’s not forever.
Thank you H for your candid and detailed answers! It’s so true what you said about communication and missing those small daily gestures. The Scottish and I were semi long distance for about 7 months when he was traveling to Kansas City every week and it was really difficult. You two seem to keep a really great perspective, and I hope that you can live together sooner rather later! Thanks again!
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Have you been in a long distance relationship? How did you manage it?