And I love it.
It wasn't so long ago, though, that we didn't get to do anything together.
Zeke and I went to colleges that were 500 miles apart, and with busy schedules and limited finances, we only got to visit one another about every two months or so. Even after the weekend we got engaged, I went back to college and he went back to college and we knew we wouldn't see one another for a couple months.
It was hard, but it was so good for us.
I know every experience is different, but for us, our long-distance relationship was super awesome.
Zeke and I only dated for about a week before we each had to be back at college. Honestly, I thought I'd never talk to him again. He was a nice guy, but come on. Summer flings never work out, and definitely not with distance involved. We'd get busy, he wouldn't call me or I would forget to call him... it just couldn't work.
My first night back at college, Zeke called. And the next night, Zeke called. And I realized that maybe, just maybe, this was going to work.
Long-distance relationships require commitment, right from the start. Zeke and I had to commit to making our relationship a priority in our busy lives, in our busy schedules. That commitment has carried into our marriage. We're committed to each other, even in the tough stuff. Even when I'm cranky or bossy or not feeling well or we're super busy, I know that he'll stick by me and that we're in this together.
Being far away from one another really changed the way our relationship matured. In my (few) previous dating experiences, the physical side of things almost always went too quickly, and really stunted spiritual and emotional connection. Dating that includes lots of kissing or cuddling can be so emotionally confusing- all the physical affection made me unsure if I actually liked the guy, or if my feelings were being warped by my hormones... and that meant that relationships would continue even when it wasn't a good relationship or when the guy and I weren't compatible.
With Zeke, the distance meant that we weren't able to let the physical stuff go faster than the emotional stuff. We were in tune with one another, without smooching or cuddling or hand holding to make things confusing. I knew I cared about Zeke because of who he was, not because his hand felt nice in my hand or because he gave really great hugs. The hugs and hand holding grew out of the way we felt about each other, not the other way around.
And because we couldn't spend hours upon hours watching movies and cuddling, we learned how to communicate. Our entire relationship was based around, well, talking. Most nights, we talked for about two hours. Really.
It was amazing. I knew all about Zeke's dreams, about his childhood, funny stories about his siblings, his deepest fears, his struggles in school, his successes, the people he looks up to... and he knew the same about me. I felt like I really knew him. Communication was so vital to every part of our relationship- we became really good at making plans for visits and scheduling phone calls. We solved logistical problems together- discussed navigating downtown Chicago, planned our adventures. Our dating relationship became so much more than just dating- we weren't just "boyfriend/girlfriend." We were best friends and partners. And we still are!
Our communication has changed since getting married. We don't sit and talk for hours on end anymore, and sometimes he really gets under my skin (and I'm sure I get under his!). Our strong foundation on good communication has really helped us, though- when we do argue, I feel like I kind of know where he's coming from- I know his character and what makes him tick. And what makes him ticked off. I'm still learning, of course, and I think I always will be learning, but I know how to talk to him about stuff, no matter what it is.
|True story: My toothbrush is the red/pink one. Zeke happens to be somewhat colorblind- and thinks his toothbrush is blue. Shh, don't tell him.|
When we did get to see one another, we truly valued the time we had together. Sure, we did watch movies together during our visits, but we also explored Chicago, tried new foods, went on hikes, bought a turtle, cooked together, went to concerts, played games, spent time with friends, learned new things. Our time together was short, and we made as many memories as we could during our every-two-month weekends. Our relationship was much deeper than it otherwise might have been, because we didn't just "hang out"- we experienced things together.
Dating long-distance also gave me the chance to learn about me. Sure, Zeke and I did spend a lot of time talking to one another, but it was up to me to take care of myself. I had to maintain friendships apart from him, I had to have my own social life without him as a buffer. I had Zeke as a sounding board for big decisions, but really- he wasn't right there, so I had to make decisions for myself and by myself. I was able to grow as an individual.
I tend to be a little (*cough,* a lot, *cough*) bossy and controlling. I like being in charge. But with Zeke, I couldn't be a "helicopter-girlfriend." I couldn't be overly opinionated about his friendships or his daily activities or what shirt he wore, because I wasn't there. I had to make a decision to trust him.
That trust has spilled over into our marriage, as well. If he thinks buying a different truck is the right choice, I trust him. He thought this job was the right one- and I trusted him. I'm not very good at being a submissive wife, I'll admit, but the time we spent far away from one another put me in a correct attitude, at least!
I remember the last time I took the Megabus to visit Zeke. I remember feeling a little sad- it was the end of an era! - but mostly relieved. By that point, we were engaged and planning our wedding; preparing for a life together. Finally, really together. I was so excited, and I knew that things were changing for the better.
Those four years were difficult. There were plenty of times when I thought that maybe I should just transfer schools to be closer to him. But really, looking back, I wouldn't change it. Dating long-distance created a solid foundation for our marriage, and I'm so grateful for it!
Linked up with Marriage Monday, MMandM, Titus 2 Tuesday, Wise Woman, and Wedded Wednesday.