Your Relationship is your Greatest Asset
We were building up speed down the runway. I reached out to take Christian’s hand as I always do when we take off on a plane. But he wasn’t there.
Cold feeling in my heart. Emptiness. Angry at myself for going on this research trip without him. Angry at myself for feeling this way. Angry at him for not coming with me. Confusion because all the literature says this jet-setting lifestyle is “living the dream.”
After 28 hours of travel, missing baggage, negotiating a new language and a taxi scam I arrive at the hotel. Exhausted. Not only from lack of sleep, but from having to fight. Fight the cold, fight for my baggage, fight for a taxi, fight against the enquiring looks of single men. On my own. And this is meant to be the glam life?
I was only away for 3 weeks this time but it reminded me of the time early in our relationship when we spent months and months and months apart. Christian and I know well about long-distance relationships.
It was hard enough being apart, but the first few days back together could sometimes be hell.
There’s so much pressure.
Oh we pretended that it was lovely. We pretended to “pick up where we left off.” We pretended that because we had missed each other so much, we were closer. But we weren’t. We were faking it.
Yes, distance makes the heart grow fonder…but often only while you are away. When you return there is so much ground to make up, there can be so many pieces to put back together. There’s an underlying anger of “where were you when I needed you?” on both sides.
Distance makes the heart confused.
And then there’s the hurt. But we can’t talk about this. Hurting because of distance is a taboo.
Do distance relationships work?
In our global, crazy but wonderful society, this is a question that gets asked a lot.
Instead of giving the answer everyone wants to hear,
I’m going to approach the question from a different perspective: why are you making the decision to spend so much time apart?
Half-way through my trip I was walking aimlessly around a city, aching to share my experiences with my love-partner. Lonely. Sad. I was thinking a lot about all the couples worldwide who spend months, years away from each other.
These are some of the “distance” dilemma’s Christian hears in his office:
I have this great job offer in New York. I have to make the move, the money’s great and will make up for the distance.
I hate it when he travels on business. I get lonely.
He just doesn’t understand that I have been waiting my whole life for this opportunity.
Well, she wouldn’t give up her career for me, so why should I for her?
Our world values careers and consumerism. We work, earn money, then spend it, save it, invest it, all to fulfil the consumerist dream. Money can be measured easily, the success of a career can be measured easily, but the success of a long-term relationship can’t. This can lead people to prioritize the money and the career rather than their relationship.
There is no substitute in the world for a meaningful, love-based relationship. A committed, satisfying long term relationship is highly desired. It is precious; it is your greatest asset. Your treasure is not a career, or money or an experience, it is the person right in front of you.
But they need to be right in front of you. Not thousands of miles away.
Yes, video chatting daily helps. Yes, distance date nights help. Yes, watching a Netflix series together helps. But…
Touch is touch.
Intimacy is intimacy.
Experiences are made to be shared in the moment.
And some talks take timelessness to unfold.
There are many reasons why couples have to be separated for periods in their lives and some cannot be helped. But many can…
As the plane began to descend on my arrival home, the billowing clouds were preparing me for a tough landing. I caught myself preparing for yet another fractured drive-home conversation with Christian. But not this time. Our times of getting back together are getting more and more gentle but our times apart are getting more and more difficult. We miss each other, tremendously. Do distance relationships work? Yes, they can. But they are tough. The less time away and the less distance the better.
Welcome to our blog. Each blog contains an insight into your relationship and health and how to mend or grow it drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience working in psychiatry. They are told as stories. The central ideas are in bold. All the pictures are originals. We post once a month and would love to hear your comments. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.