Friends and fellow long distance relationship peeps (which is basically ALL of us right now, am I right??)… what crazy times these are.
I’m a psychologist who specializes in stress, trauma, and resilience. I work mostly with humanitarian and emergency relief organizations. I’ve ventured into more than one emergency setting. I’m married to someone who’s made a career out of working in places like refugee camps and hard-to-reach villages in remote places. Between us, we have a fair amount of experience dealing with disasters… and what is unfolding in the world right now still seems strange and surreal, even to us. So if you’re feeling shell-shocked by the events of the last month or two, you are not alone.
And if you’re feeling cut off and separated from people you love right now, you are MOST DEFINITELY not alone. Pretty much the whole world is in a long distance relationship right now (or several of them). Not for the first time, I’m in a long distance relationship with my own husband (although, oddly, for the first time we’re actually living in the same CITY and in a long distance relationship.)
My husband, Mike’s, been in the Solomon Islands for most of the last two months. He’s back in the Australia now, but spending 14 days of self-isolation in our house. To keep everyone as safe as we can, I’ve taken the boys to live with my parents, down the road for now.
Never ever did I dream of a long distance reunion where we couldn’t even give each other more than a wave after he arrived home, before separating again for another two weeks. Plus it was my birthday the day after he got back. The featured image above shows us celebrating. I have a husband on facetime, half a cake (I still don’t know what happened to the other half), and one child who is WAY too fond of matches.
Like I said, crazy times.
So. When I haven’t been breaking up fights about the iPad, supervising the kids school, and writing resources about coping with stress, anxiety, and isolation for work, I’ve been thinking about you guys and wondering what tips I can offer you–offer all of us–on keeping our long distance relationships strong during this epic and extended season of uncertainty and anxiety.
So, in no particular order, here goes…
1. Talk about how you’re feeling and what you’re doing to cope
This is a really stressful time for almost everybody. You might have lost your job (or be about to). You might not know when you’ll see each other again. You might be stuck somewhere, unable to get home. You might be out-of-your-mind-worried about friends and family. You might be feeling out-of-your-mind-bored and cooped up. You may be feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and sad. Bottom line, we’re all going to be feeling out-of-our-minds some of the time in coming weeks (and probably, sigh, months).
Talking about it can help. So talk to each other about your fears and frustrations and the severe ups and downs we’re all experiencing right now. Talk about what you’re grateful for, and sad about, and scared of. Talk about what this makes you remember and wonder. Talk about the little bright spots in your day. Talk about how life is changing and what you’re learning. Talking (and writing) about this journey will help you understand it, and feel more connected to each other even if you can’t be together in the same room.
[Sidenote: Stuck for things to talk about? check out the Great Dates Bundle for LDR couples, which is on sale during this pandemic for 50% off]
We are all going through this journey together emotionally, even if we’re not together physically, and even though we’re unlikely to be at exactly the same point on that journey at the same time. In some ways, being a different emotional points on a similar journey can be a kindness. It means you’re unlikely to be feeling low-low-low at the same time, and this point leads into my next tip…