Love From Afar, Part I

How do you maintain (and build!) a marriage from different states?

My husband Chris and I are currently what you might consider “geographically challenged.”

Chris works in Tacoma, Washington.  I work primarily in Dallas, Texas and Portland, Oregon, and do consulting work that takes me all over.  We have a house in Portland and we try to spend most weekends together there, but that still leaves 5 days a week apart.

Can a marriage survive such distance?  ABSOLUTELY!

But not by accident.

First it’s important to note, we didn’t enter into this situation lightly.  Every decision that brought us here was made with much prayerful consideration of God’s will for our marriage, our family, and our careers.  We had to think carefully and honestly about who we are, and how we work as a couple and a family.  We also talked everything over with our kids.  The actual story of how we got here is pretty long, so I’m saving it for next week.  For now, I just want to share some of how we deal with it day to day.

We stay in meaningful conversation. One of the first things I do every morning is to write Chris an email.  I tell him about my day and share what I’m thinking and praying about.  He then calls me on his way to work.  This works for us because I’m very verbal and like and need to share a lot.  Chris is less verbal, so he likes to just read my—sometimes lengthy—email and then connect by phone during his commute.   Of course we talk or email at other times too, but our morning ritual is something we can count on.  Not every word has to be “deep,” (and many aren’t) but it’s our time to communicate and not simply update.

We protect our time together. Weekends are OURS (and sometimes our kids’ too).  Early on, we made the mistake one month of planning several weekends in a row of visits with various extended family and friends.  It was such a mistake!  Now, we jealously guard our time together.  We decided that at least every other weekend has to be OURS.  That means saying “no” to some invitations and opportunities that we would otherwise have happily accepted.  And when we are together, we’ve learned to really invest in times of closeness where there’s no schedule and no place to be.  Just time to be together.

It’s not always easy.  Some days it’s down-right hard.  But we forge ahead, because we know that God is using this time to grow us in ways we can’t even imagine.  This is right where and what God has called us to be today.

Next week, I’ll explain just how we got here!