It’s March, the month of Mark’s and my wedding anniversary. This year, we celebrate 6 years. To commemorate, I want to write about it! Yay! Today, it’ll be about our long-distance engagement.
Mark asked me to marry him on June 19, 2008, about a month after I finished college, and a month after I had accepted an internship at a hospital in Hawaii that was to start at the beginning of August. Yes, Hawaii. And we were in Texas at the time. I would return to Texas in December. That’s 5 months of being apart, WHILE engaged. YIKES! I mean, we weren’t planning on it being that way. Well, I guess Mark was planning on proposing for a while, and in the midst of that, I accept an internship thousands of miles away. Haha, oops. Poor Mark.
I remember the last day I saw Mark before I left for Hawaii, which was just about a month and a half after we got engaged. It seriously felt like something was ending. I was genuinely scared for our relationship. Not that it wouldn’t work, but just that it would be such a challenge, and that our dynamic might change.
While in Hawaii, I had a hard time balancing my weird life, since there were so many things I had to do and wanted to do, without much time to do them all. I was newly engaged and wanted to talk to my fiancé at every moment. I worked 40-50 hours a week, and wanted to do well at my internship. I still had schoolwork to do. I volunteered for an accessible surfing organization on some weekends. And of course, I wanted to see and experience everything Oahu had to offer.
Basically everything was attained (more or less) except the talking to my fiancé every moment bit. Kinda hard with the 5 hour time difference, the working full-time, and exploring the island.
It was terribly hard at first. Not getting to be with Mark, yes, but also just missing him. But by the grace of God, Mark and I developed a system, and I stayed busy so I didn’t get lonely. It totally worked! I read books about marriage on the bus to work every day. I e-mailed Mark during my lunch breaks. I called him when I was done with work. I worked out every day after work. I called Mark on the way home from the gym. I wrote him more e-mails. I called him before bed. We Skyped at least once a week. I prayed for him and us constantly. And on the weekends, I did my touristy stuff.
It seriously worked. Staying busy and developing a system. And knowing that at some point, we would see each other.
And in October, he flew to Hawaii to visit me for a short 5 days. He came to work with me on one of the days, and I took a day off. I was overjoyed to see him and to show him the island. We packed in everything we could, and just had fun together. We didn’t really talk about sad stuff or how short his visit was. We just loved each other and had fun. It was awesome.
But then I dropped him off at the airport. I think that was one of the saddest moments of my life. He just stood there waving while I drove off. It was heartbreaking.
After that, we started a countdown. “Only 64 more days until we see each other!” we would say on the phone. I loved seeing those numbers drop.
When my internship ended, I had about 4 days until I was to fly back home. Those days went by so slowly. I remember being on the beach listening to my iPod, and the song “Home” by Michael Bublé came on. I started crying. On the beach. By myself. Fun, huh? That song, which is about being in amazing places but it not mattering because your love isn’t there, wrecked me for those 4 days. (Oh, Michael Bublé.)
When I got back home, my mom and Mark were there to pick me up. Poor Mom. I’m pretty sure I ignored her the whole time. Haha!
I learned a lot about my long-distance experience. It was so hard, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I was able to grow as an individual, but still be in a loving relationship. Because of those 6 months, I learned to feel strong, confident, capable, and worthy of marrying such a great guy.
If I was to give any advice to others in long-distance relationships, I would give the following:
- Stay busy. You will grow as an individual, and that will, in turn, help your relationship to grow. (Luckily, I was in Oahu, so it was easy to stay busy!)
- Develop a system with your significant other. Be aware of when are good times to call/talk, so that you don’t get worried if you can’t speak with him/her or not.
- Communicate in any way possible. E-mail, Skype, and the phone are all good things. Even postcards, letters, packages, or other snail-mails are a great ways of showing each other that you’re thinking about them.
- Pray/send good vibes/think good thoughts for your significant other. That simple gesture will comfort you.
- Start a countdown. Is he/she visiting you in 3 weeks? Start saying, “Only 21 days!” Seeing those numbers drop is so exciting.
- When you DO visit each other, HAVE FUN! Don’t take time out to argue, “have a talk”, talk about the future, etc. You can do that on the phone! Don’t do that in the few hours you have with each other!
- Don’t regret or be bitter about your time apart. It WILL make you grow. As individuals, and as a couple.
I’m living proof that a long-distance relationship can work. But maybe me being in Hawaii the whole time helped a little for me.