When a friend was a little girl, her father once travelled for six months from the U.S. to Australia for work, leaving her mother in the countryside with three little girls and a newborn. It was the snowiest winter in years. Once a week, he would send a letter, an aerogram, detailing his work and trip. They had one phone call the whole six months, since long distance was so very expensive back then.
Well, things have changed in 50 years! Now we can text, Skype, email, make video calls or an affordable long-distance phone call. How can we possibly feel disconnected during travel, or when one of us is deployed to far off lands?
Technology Eases Some Pains and Causes New Ones
Technology gives us ways to keep in touch and can ease the pain of separation somewhat. Yet a phone call can go only so far to convey what’s going on in your partner’s world, and the limitations can be frustrating.
Additional adjustments that separate you can start to develop. The one left at home creates the unique daily rhythm of household life. Friends become more important to call upon for help with emergencies like flat tires, or a sick child. Neither person in the relationship wants affection to wane, but any relationship needs a high ratio of sweet moments to frustrating ones to help them stay intact and healthy. Affection can start to fade or wither when there just aren’t many hours together.
Some People can Keep Home Fires Burning More Easily than Others
Some people are more able to nourish the bond they sense between them, even when great distances separate them for months at a time. They can remain feeling secure knowing they are loved and loveable, and enjoy remembering the sweet moments of connection even when apart. They can bask in the warmth of love more easily.
Other people really need to feel their partner’s touch and spend time face to face to appreciate love and connection. To cope when an absent partner can’t meet that need, the one left home may turn to family or friends for support, or try to shut down and leave their needs for connection unmet. This can lead to feeling desperate or depressed if it goes on too long.
What You Can Do to Help your Relationship come through A Separation Intact
So, taking care of yourself and your relationship requires work, no matter where your partner is. While friendships may pull you in new directions, or lonely feelings may challenge you, you can take steps to give your commitment and your relationship a better chance of remaining whole and intact.
What can you do to remain feeling more secure and loved in your relationship while you’re apart? Know that we all need love, affection and attention; we’re built to bond. Give yourself permission to grieve your loss with a trusted friend or family member. Set up times for contact with your partner as much as you can, and nurture your sense of being loved. Look at photos or movies of yourself and your loved one, and listen to his or her voice recorded on your phone. Keep something that smells like him or her nearby.
And do turn to friends and family, and counselors you trust for support, fun, and help.
We’re here for you at Mount Vernon Family Therapy
Helping people build loving, healthy relationships is our passion. Find out about family and couples counseling in Alexandria Virginia: (703) 768-6240.