When I joined CatholicMatch I was so against long distance relationships (LDR), that I wrote in my profile that I wasn’t willing to travel far to meet anyone, but they were welcome to travel to meet me. That didn’t deter Alex—my future husband—from contacting me. While we were both happy with initiating friendship online, we knew it was important to move offline as soon as possible.
Because we lived two states away, we had to wait a whole month to see each other in person. After our first real date, another month passed before it was possible for us to see one another again … then another month passed.
If you are in a long distance relationship, or considering one, here are some basic tips to help manage the difficulties of a long distance courtship:
1. Plan ahead. Meet in person as SOON and as OFTEN as possible. The sooner you can determine if there is chemistry, the sooner you can invest in the relationship. Plan ahead to avoid settling into a routine when you to get together. Do acts of charity together: volunteer at a Catholic school, church, soup kitchen, retirement home, Homefront, etc. Or plan to go to a museum, concert, hear a talk, hike, play sports, visit a farm or zoo, ice skate (rinks are open year round), dance or kayak.
Find other friends and relatives who want to travel with you to split gas or share hotel rooms. Or skip the hotel altogether and ask to stay with your significant other’s friend, sister, or cousin to cut expenses.
2. Date even when you’re not in the same room. If you can perfect this skill, you will make a fantastic spouse. Play Mad Libs or Loaded Questions over the phone. Take turns reading a book to one another (check out your library). Start writing a story together (make it as silly as you want) or draw comic strips. Play charades, hangman, or Sudoku together. Audit a foreign language class, and practice the new language together.
Swap new recipes, and then you’ll have a great meal to make next time you’re together. Create your own wine-tasting/beer-tasting/cheese-tasting/chocolate-tasting/Jelly Belly-tasting date via Skype or phone. Try carving a pumpkin or watermelon, and wear a costume to show your goofy side while on Skype. Create playlists for one another. Borrow your parents’ photo albums, and share those childhood memories. Make different origami animals, and then mail your creations to one another.
3. Make regular connections throughout the day. Don’t hesitate to send texts or emails! I work from home with my husband, but I still love his texts, emails, and Facebook posts for me. You can email and text each other lyrics, jokes, Bible quotes, prayers, or poems (or leave them in voicemails). Create your own fun poem through this site: Festisite.com/love/poems. Send each other funny or sweet photos of your day.
It’s that type of connectivity that helps you stay close while you’re dating and keeps you closer when you’re married!
4. Pray together. Praying is one of the most intimate things you can do together. Praise and glorify God regardless of the outcome of your relationship. Our favorite form of prayer is song! You may feel intimidated to pray with your date, but I can attest that awkward prayer doesn’t ruin good relationships.
Early in our relationship, Alex sent a novena prayer for us to pray together (he didn’t read through the prayer before sending it to me). Although some of the language is very direct, we prayed it together anyway.
5. Savor the time apart. The hardest time to get through with LDR is when you are on your way home after seeing one another. Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your LDR, who will listen to your heartaches, but who will also help you focus on the good or virtue in every situation.
Remember that our purpose is to praise and glorify God through every joy and sorrow in this life. Use this time to lighten the burden of those around you, and cultivate those local friendships. This time apart also gives you something to talk about with your significant other.
Because we attended weddings separately, Alex and I talked comfortably about engagements, marriage, family life, and goals for the future.
6. Relocate. How open are you to relocating? Would that involve career changes? What are you willing to sacrifice for the other? Be honest with one another.
By moving to Connecticut Alex sacrificed and risked everything for love. We were engaged about one month later! I’m still open to living anywhere, but his gesture meant more than words.
7. Trust in God. When in doubt read Saint Faustina’s diary and always pray to know God’s will.
God willing, these practices will help to develop your relationship into a very satisfying marriage.