Whoever said long distance was easy clearly fractured their skull during their childhood.
Boy, is it something! In the three years that I’ve been married, I’ve had my fair share of long distance – ranging from seven months to a few weeks – to the point that I’ve lived away from my husband more than I’ve lived with him! So by now, you could say I consider myself quite the pro.
For those navigating through long distance right now or those who anticipate that they will experience it at some point soon, here are 8 tips and advice that I’ve put together.
1. Remember there is wisdom behind everything
It can be crazy tough in the beginning. The first days are always the hardest, so be prepared. It’s pretty normal to cry buckets and want to spend all day in bed the first few days as it may feel completely unbearable at first. Especially, if you’ve lived together before and gotten really used to spending every moment of every day together. Some days you may just feel incredibly emotional and really frustrated with the situation.
Remember – there is Hikmah (wisdom) in everything and Allah truly is the Best of Planners. He knows what is best for us and His timing is perfect. Although we may not see the wisdom at first, often with time we uncover the beauty behind Allah’s intricate planning and the wisdom behind our tests.
And yes, long distance is a test. Even Prophet Ibrahim and his wife Haajar were tested with separation over long periods of time, but they trusted Allah’s plan and were content with His decree.
2. Know that it gets easier with time
It’ll take time to adjust but you’ll get there. The days won’t seem as long as before. You’ll find yourself getting into a routine with the phone/video calls. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment too, when you look back at all the weeks and months that have passed by and realise that you were able to do it after all! So take it one day at a time, and keep on pushing through. And before you know it, your reunion will be right around the corner.
3. Be ready to put in some extra hard work
What I mean by this is that don’t expect it to be a piece of cake. You’re going to have to learn to adjust to a whole lot of things; differences in timezones, lack of communication during the super busy days, lack of physical comfort (sometimes a hug makes everything better!), the need to make time for each other (you might get busy too!), and all sorts.
You may have to go outside your comfort zone sometimes – stay up really late at night or wake up super early in the morning just to talk, sacrifice fun moments with your family/friends so you can make time for a call, make an attempt to look good for one another even though you’re not in the mood etc. So be prepared to put in that extra effort but also know that it will definitely pay off. All the little things add up and slowly but surely solidify and strengthen your relationship with each other.
4. Understand that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus
I cannot stress on this enough. The truth is, men and women have very different expectations and needs. Women often like to share details about their day-to-day activities, expect to be listened to and shown attention to and sometimes want men to open up and share their lives too. Whilst men often think with a more practical and logical mindset and don’t always feel like breaking down their days down to the small details. Add long distance to that and it can get a bit tricky![*Note: This is a broad generalization of both genders and it could well be the opposite way around too!]
5. Understand that Introverts and Extroverts are a completely different species
Let’s just say, the struggle is real. It’s quite common to have two completely opposite personalities in a relationship together. As they say, opposites attract. Often times, one may be an extrovert and the other an introvert. In that case, let me be the first to break it to you. Your communication styles will differ considerably. The extrovert in the relationship (obviously that’s me in ours) can easily write paragraphs and passages in reply to a simple question like, ‘How are you?’ or ‘How was your day?’, whereas the introvert in the relationship will usually be perfectly content to just reply with a single word like ‘Good’ or ‘Fine’.
I know, I know, it can be incredibly frustrating. And that’s exactly why I highly recommend sending ‘voice notes’ to one another on the busier days and simply video-calling on the less busy days. It’s seriously the best method of communication. As I find that messaging lacks real emotion and facial recognition and can often be the worst platform for moments of tension.
6. Don’t give ‘the silent treatment’ to one another
Believe me. ‘The silent treatment’ is like slow poison. All it will do is damage your relationship. In general, I’m not a fan of ‘the silent treatment’ (or ‘the cold shoulder’ as some may refer to it), but I really cannot emphasise this enough when it comes to long distance relationships in particular. You’re already cut off from one another and unable to show physical comfort when you’re worried or concerned about the other person. Now imagine not being able to get through to them through messages or calls as well! How will one make things right if they’re not being given the chance to through any way or form?
Conflict resolution is everything when it comes to marriage. It can make or break a marriage. So figure out the healthiest way that works for you and your spouse. And if you’re doing long distance, my advice to you is to always choose to video call during an argument. Communication is SO important for a healthy relationship. Even if you really don’t feel like it, believe me when I say it’ll be worth it. Nine times out of 10 you will have made up by the end of the call.
7. When the going gets tough, the tough make Du’aa
There will be moments where you will just want to break down. And that’s fine.
Take a breather. Don’t hold it all in and allow yourself a cry (I’m not much of a crier but crying can honestly be so therapeutic at times). Lay your heart open to Allah and make heartfelt Du’aa during the moments you feel at your lowest. Du’aa really does wonders and you’ll be amazed at how situations can change and doors can open for you when you truly put your trust in Allah and turn to Him.
And remember, this too will pass.
8. And finally, try to make the most of it!
Remember that these moments, as bittersweet as they are, are simply moments in time that you will never get back again. So cherish them too!
From the midnight calls that keep you up to the hilarious messages that make you laugh out loud in public and from the wonderful surprises that you are gifted with to the countdown till your sweet reunion that awaits you at the end, enjoy every moment as best as you can. Because a good long distance relationship can do wonders to your marriage and increase your appreciation and love for one another by leaps and bounds. Even after you’ve reunited.
So, will it be easy? Nope.
Worth it? Absolutely!