Welcome back to day two of this little anniversary week mini-series! Yesterday I spilled our entire “how we met” story, and today I’m talking all things related to our long distance relationship.
From February 2008 until May 2010, we lived 1,100 miles apart while we were in college. I was in Alabama and he was in New York. After he graduated from West Point, he rented a house in my college town with some guys I introduced him to so that we could live in the same town for a few weeks while I finished up my final few classes (I graduated in August 2010 just a few months after he did). After six weeks of living in the same town, he moved to Sierra Vista, AZ for his Intelligence BOLC training and I moved back to my hometown in north Alabama to start my first teaching job. We lived 1,700 miles apart for the next seven months until he moved to his first duty station in Tennessee.
We were together for on month shy of three years when we got married, and if you did the math above, you noticed that we only spent one six-week stretch together before getting hitched. In hindsight, we were definitely taking one giant leap of faith for a couple of 22 year olds. 🙂
Though our relationship was rocky from time to time, I can put my finger on things that helped us build and support a healthy and long-lasting long distance relationship.
- We had the support of our parents
I’m putting this number one because I strongly believe that if we didn’t have the support of both sets of parents from the beginning that the cross-country distance between us would have never worked.
From the time we started dating, my family has included Jamie in every single family vacation, and his family has included me in every one of theirs. Every time his parents went to West Point or to the Army/Navy game they paid for my flight and brought me along. My parents helped many times with my airlines tickets (usually making a ticket a birthday gift or something) and always encouraged me to see him as often as I could. We know how lucky we were to have that support from the get-go.
2. We spent all of our extra money on traveling.
Planes, trains, taxis, hotels, you name it. We both sacrificed and spent gobs of money (well, the little that we had) every year getting to see each other, but every reunion was always worth it. Traveling solo at a young age was often tough but so exhilarating and empowering. I learned how to be very independent in a good way!
3. We were always planning ahead.
After we made our relationship official in February 2008, the constant question of “When will I see you again?” was always in conversation rotation. We very rarely (if ever) said goodbye to each other without knowing the next time we’d see each other again. We were always thinking about the next three-day weekend, next holiday, or next event that would give us an excuse to be together. Planning ahead was also crucial financial and academically.
4. We used a million methods of communication to make the other feel special.
Skype, texting, phone calls, instant messenger, letters/cards in the mail, you name it. We did a brief bible study together, and I’d send him cookies and cupcakes for him and his friends. We were grabbing at any idea we could think of that would keep us connected. Of course we never went a day without talking.
5. We fought really, really hard to make it work.
Have I mentioned that the distance was tough? Like, really tough. If I’m looking at the distance with a glass half full perspective, it’s easy to see that there were some definite perks. Most of the time though, I struggled to look at it with a glass half full attitude. I really didn’t like it, and neither did he. We wanted so badly to be together. Our normal relationship issues were magnified x 10 because of the distance, and there were two times we were thisclose to throwing in towel. We didn’t (thank goodness) and I think we’re oddly stronger as a couple because of how hard we’ve had to work to make “us” work. I love him so much.
Updated: Here’s parts three and four of our anniversary series.