This guest article from YourTango was written by Mary Jo Rapini.
As recently as twenty years ago, marriage meant living under the same roof and sleeping in the same bed “till death do you part.”
But economic changes, as well as our ability to communicate with people from all over the world, afford us more options with our career choices and location. This presents a new challenge for many relationships. What once seemed fatal to a marriage is now possible — and might even have some perks.
Living apart can work for some couples, but it isn’t easy. It requires both commitment and excellent communication skills from both partners.
One of the biggest challenges of living apart is that it’s harder to be sure of each other’s intentions and goals. When you live together, you share most things on a day-to-day basis, making it easier to understand your partner’s perspective. Not having that ability can become a source of conflict, especially if you’re having a rough day or feeling insecure.
Not surprisingly, couples who live apart often experience increased jealousy or difficulty with commitment. If the each party in the couple is mature enough to understand his or her individual needs and voice them clearly, this is less of an issue. However, many couples that live apart don’t have this level of maturity or insight; it’s difficult to achieve.
If you and your spouse are considering living apart from each other, consider these pieces of advice from successful and happily married couples who have lived apart longer than they’ve lived together.
- Have a direct discussion about the reason for living apart. If both partners agree that this is going to work, it will. However, using living apart as an excuse to get away from each other will not work.
- Make sure you each know who will be responsible for the nitty-gritty “home” and financial chores, tasks and arrangements.
- Check in frequently with your partner and make sure this arrangement is still working for both of you. If you have children, talking to them each day is as important as talking to one another.
- Have weekly or bi-monthly “big picture” meetings in addition to daily check-ins. This is important for partners and with children as well.
- Living apart is most beneficial to a marriage if both partners understand it isn’t forever. You can make it an adventure for three months, but after three years, it may not feel as thrilling.
Signs a Long-Distance Marriage Can Work For You:
- You have a solid marriage and the financial health of your partnership could improve drastically with a move.
- You are comfortable with Skype, e-mail, texting, and all forms of digital and written communication with your partner.
- In-person meetings are used to enjoy each other and reconnect, not work.
- You are both committed to seeing each other at least twice a month. If your partner is in the military and this is not possible, then seeking the support of others in your position and sending care packages is important.
Reasons you should not live apart:
- If you find it difficult to trust your partner.
- If you or your partner is afraid of being alone.
- If you have never had your own space or enjoyed time alone.
- If you have never been without a close physical relationship.
- If your partner has health issues that require close care and attention.
Living apart is possible, and can improve your relationship. It is an opportunity to think about each other every day, and to consciously cherish what many of us take for granted. Just as in-person relationships depend on communication, long distance relationships do best with partners who communicate directly, honestly and frequently.