Long distance relationships as we all know are hard; harder than some can even imagine. It's not fun being alone, missing your other half and only being able to see or hear them over the internet (especially with the time difference). I think having kids and a family together even makes things worse because you are left to play both roles and deal with your children aching hearts as well. It also sucks for the parent that is away - they miss out on birthdays, holidays, fun family weekends, etc. etc. For Bini, it hurt him that Novena was growing up and saying all kinds of new words without him physically being there. Talking on the phone wasn’t enough, especially when she cried Daddy and would kiss the telephone during face time video calls.
When Bini first told me about his new business ventures in Ethiopia (thousands of miles away), I felt torn between being happy for him and worried about how it would all play out. His face lit up as he talked about going back to his home country and being able to finally give back to the community that raised him. I wanted to celebrate his success and be the support system he needed and wanted, but a part of me was devastated. I kept picturing my family torn apart for weeks at a time. I know I know… totally selfish, right? But, it’s my truth. So I did what I do best. I prayed and prayed for God to show me the right path. In a way, I was hoping the project wouldn’t go through, but that didn’t happen. Bini left for Addis Ababa and was gone for three months the first time, left a couple of times for short periods after that and his most recent trip was two months long.
I’d like to say it gets better with time, but I’d be lying. You would think I’d be okay with the idea of solo parenting by now, but I’m far from it. My heart still aches for him during every trip as if it was his first. What I can tell you, is that this last trip finally taught us both some key lessons that we were missing in his previous travels.
It made me (and hopefully him) finally understand the importance of communication and the value of trust in a marriage. We always seem to hit rock bottom only to work our way back up. I wish we would just get it, before going through the emotional rollercoaster rides.
Here are three key lessons that helped me cope with the distance:
I can’t stress this enough! Communication is the key to any successful relationship. A simple “hello, how is your day going baby?” means the world to me when he is away. Hearing his voice had a special way of making me feel connected to his world, even though he was thousands of miles away. It kept him close to us. With technology being as advanced as it is today, there are so many different FREE ways to keep the communication lines open. We used apps such as:
Trust is not given, it’s earned. You have to build it together by being honest with each other, even when you know the honest truth may sometimes upset your partner. When you trust your partner and know that they have your best interest at heart, everything seems doable. Your mind is clear from any negative thoughts, and you can focus on yourself instead of what your partner is doing.
Having a plan sounds so robotic in relationships. However, I think it is helpful to have both parties on the same page when there are so many factors that get in a way like time difference, connectivity issues & busy schedules. With a plan, you’re setting expectations on when to have time for each other and a firm return date. There has to be an end date! Whether it is one week or one year, have a date in mind and stick to the plan. It gives you both something to look forward to and keeps your priorities intact.
Lastly, I have to say that although I still hate it when Bini travels, I must admit that there are some perks to it. For one, it’s the perfect time to re-decorate our house (I’ve done that twice in one year now). Also, it gives me more time and freedom to do things I would usually push aside if he were home. Most importantly though, it showed me just how independent and strong I am as a mother, a wife, and a WOMAN!
I hope this helps you or someone you know. As always, I’d love to hear from you. If you are in a long distance relationship or your partner is always traveling, let me know how you deal with it.