When people first find out I’ve been in a long distance relationship for over four and a half years, I’m usually met with wide eyes and small gasps. When they find out Ryan and I are engaged, I swear jaws almost drop to the floor.
“Wow, I could never do that.”
“Props to you.”
“Is it really worth it?”
I’ll be honest, I would never wish long distance on my worst enemy. It’s challenging in more ways than you would think, and it requires a lot of work. But if you find someone who is worth the countless Skype calls, the deep ache in your heart, and the life moments missed by both parties, why wouldn’t you put in the work?
Long distance hasn’t been fun — not even a little — but there are many ways that, looking back, I can see how God has been preparing for us for life after long distance and life as a MARRIED COUPLE! (Eep, I still get so excited when I say that!)
Ryan and I began dating during my Senior year of high school. Basically, we were just babies. Sometimes I like to wonder what life would have been like for us if I hadn’t gone to school at Missouri State while he was studying at the University of Illinois. At first, I think it’ll be all rainbows and butterflies, but then I realize there is a lot that we both would have missed out on.
They’re not joking when they say that college is one of the most transformational times of your life. By attending different colleges, Ryan and I were able to grow individually while also growing together. Instead of staying attached at the hip and never daring to step outside our comfort zones, we were forced to make our own friends, find our own hobbies, and cultivate our own passions. Plus, we both were able to grow in our faith organically, through the help of our campus ministries and dear friends.
Now, as we enter into marriage, we both have our own independent lives that will create a rich and beautiful life together. One that we never would have had without long distance.
This might seem obvious, but OOF. If you really want to learn about communication, skip the COM degree and just enter into a long distance relationship. The #1 key to a successful and healthy long distance relationship (or any relationship, really), is communication. Ryan and I have gone through a lot of trial and error, a lot of misunderstandings, and a lot of long talks, so we could have a happy, loving relationship. Whether that means nightly phone calls before bed, or making sure to properly express our feelings and expectations, there is no doubt that our constant growth in communication will benefit us for the rest of our lives.
Here’s the thing: relationships can unfortunately become toxic without anyone even realizing it until it’s too late. Couples let small problems fester until they’re too big to deal with. Women and men will allow their significant others to treat them poorly because it can then be masked by physical affection or empty promises.
None of that is possible in a long distance relationship.
A long distance relationship is intensely purifying, because you have no choice but to deal with problems as they come to you. You can’t ignore them. And if you can’t work them out, then it’s just not worth it. There’s a lot more at stake, and, therefore, no problem can go unaddressed.
You might think this sounds awful, but, in reality, it’s been one of the biggest blessings in Ryan and I’s relationship. We understand how to address and work through problems together, because we quite literally had no other choice. For that, I’m extremely grateful.
I won’t lie to you, I am counting down everyday to our wedding and the last time Ryan and I will ever have to be separated for so long again. Yet, as I reflect on our dating relationship, I am so thankful for the lessons, gifts, and graces we’ve received through our long distance relationship. Even with all of its challenges, I wouldn’t change a single thing.
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