This post contains affiliate links. This means that I make a small commission off of purchases made through my links at no extra charge to you. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that support A Prioritized Marriage!
I don’t have much experience with long distance relationships, but during the past year, Joe and I have spent more time apart than we have in our entire marriage combined and I’ve learned a few things from the couple of experiences that we've had so far.
Last summer was Joe's first year as a scoutmaster and it was the first time that we'd ever been apart for that long. We'd spent nights apart before, and have since, but not for that long, and not without any way to communicate like was the case that week. That week definitely made my heart grow fonder for him, and I lived off of a ten minute phone call he made to me on Wednesday morning. I was like a giggly school girl whose crush had just called her when I realized it was him on the phone (you can read all about it in this post). Since then, I spent half a week in Canada and Joe has gone to another week of scout camp. That time apart is hard, but I've found a few ways to continue to make our relationship a priority, even though we aren't together.
Find Ways to Make Them Feel Loved While You’re Apart
Last year while Joe was away at scout camp, I realized that I didn't put a treat or love note in his bag before he left, so I sent a bag of cookies up with someone who was heading up later in the week. I told myself then that I was going to be more prepared the next time around and sneak something into his bag before he lft.
When I went to Canada in November, I made sure that our fridge was stocked with groceries and leftovers so that Joe would never run out of things to eat. I did everything that I could to make his time as easy as possible, even though I knew that he was more than capable of taking care of himself, the baby and the dog while I was gone. He's proven that to me time and time again while I've been in school.
Before scout camp his year, I put together a little package of "open when" love notes and letters for Joe to read throughout the week. It was one of my favorite things that I put together and I had a lot of fun doing it! Not only was it simple, but it was meaningful! I spent an hour writing my notes and another half hour or so decorating the notes and their envelopes.
This kit from The Dating Divas has everything done for you, including a few gifts! It's a great way to let your spouse know that you're thinking about them, even if you don't have a lot of time to prep. If your spouse is already away, you can easily mail these and/or any other surprises to them in a package!
Communicate Whenever Possible
Last summer, when Joe was gone to scout camp for a week, he had no cell phone service and no way of communicating with me regularly. I would have to say that was the hardest part about having him gone. I handled myself and the baby pretty well, with a little help from family members who live close by, but not having my best friend around to talk to and text throughout the week was rough. The ten minute phone call that he made to me in the middle of the week was the highlight of my entire month!
In November, when I was traveling in Canada, I didn’t have cell phone service, but we were able to communicate through Google Hangouts and social media when I was in the hotel or had access to wi-fi. We had nightly Google Hangout chats, sometimes with Bensen and sometimes after he had gone to bed. There was one night that Joe fell asleep before our chat and even though it was my last night in Canada and I knew that I was going to see him the next day, it was a major bummer for me. The entire trip, it was nice to be able to shoot him a little message on Hangouts to tell him about something that I'd done, let him know I was thinking about him or ask a question about Bensen.
When Joe was gone this year for scout camp, he had phone reception, but hadn't taken anything to charge his phone with easily throughout the week. We were able to chat for half an hour twice during the week, and I really looked forward to his calls! It was nice to be able to send him a text on Thursday morning, after a particularly trying Wednesday, to let him know I'd love a call and know that he'd check his phone at least once. Thursday night, I kept my phone close so that I wouldn't miss his call.
If you have any way to communicate with your spouse while they are gone, do it! Send them a text or a message on social media and call them whenever possible. Video chats are even better, hooray for modern technology! Check out 365 Love Texts and Text Messages 2.0 from The Dating Divas for fun ideas of what to send to your spouse while they're away (and every other day of the year)!
Let Them Know They Were Missed and Appreciated
Last year, on the day that Joe was supposed to be home from camp, I had Bensen dressed in a onesie that said something about his daddy and I was wearing my 'this girl loves her husband' shirt when Joe got home from camp. This year, I had plans for how we'd greet Joe, but Bensen slept in that morning and I was in the shower when the scouts pulled up so those totally flopped. Instead, we took our breakfast outside and hung out while the guys unloaded the trailer and then we spent the day playing together as a family and enjoying having him home. In between lots of naps of course! ;)
The Dating Divas Welcome Home Kit is full of ideas and supplies for any sort of welcome home greeting! While I was looking through it, I thought how fun it would be to use some of these things to surprise your spouse after a long week when it feels like they've been living at work.
Plan Time Together for When You’re Back Together
Last year after camp, Joe and I ran a few errands and just hung out while my sister-in-law watched Bensen the night after he got home. It was simple, but he was tired so I knew it was something that he'd appreciate. This year, I reserved all of my plans for the two of us until a few days later because I knew that he'd be exhausted and that we'd have more fun together after he'd recovered.
We still kept things simple, but we had a lot of fun together! The newest Marvel superhero movie hit The Movie Grille this past weekend, and because we'd missed out seeing it when it came out in May, we decided that it would be the perfect time for a matinee movie and lunch while we watched. Later that night, after Bensen had gone to bed, we enjoyed this gooey oreo dessert from The Modern Tulip while we sat in our yard and watched fireworks from the country club near us and other neighbors. It was perfect and relaxing and just what we needed after a week apart.
I'm a big fan of spending time at home with Joe after we've been apart. I get him all to myself and we can relax and enjoy each other's company without any outside distractions. Datelivery is one of my favorite resources when we're planning a date night at home. Below are just a few of my favorite date night boxes, perfect for reconnecting after your time away from each other. Check out their date night box shop for more options.
And another thing, don't forget to do something for yourself! I wrote this article, 10 Things to Do When Your Spouse is Out of Town for Family Share a couple of months back. A few of those things involve your spouse and your marriage, but the majority of them are selfish, for you only! Being apart is rough, and it can be pretty lonely if you are the spouse that is left behind. I know for me personally, while I was gone to Canada, I was so busy with everything that we had going on at the conference, that yes I missed my little family, but not in the same way that I have missed Joe while he's been gone to scout camps. Knowing that you're doing things that make you happy and help you stay busy will give your spouse peace of mind and let them focus on what they are supposed to be doing rather than worrying so much about you back at home.
I'm not saying that you're not allowed to miss each other and struggle while you're apart. That's going to happen regardless. But making the most of the time that you aren't together will not only help it go by faster, but can strengthen your relationship as well!
What are some ways that you make your marriage a priority while you're apart?