Love Long Distance

After a job moved him 500 miles away from his wife of 28 years, the two formed an angelic bond by reconnecting in a whole new way.

By Mickey Richardson, Amarillo, Texas

As appeared in

Americans live in the most mobile society in history. With opportunities all over the country (all over the globe, really) people move frequently, and over the internet, people from anywhere can "meet" and connect. Long-distance romantic relationships are the inevitable result. Young people are enduring long separations from their partners, and even couples who have been married for years are having to live in different places part-time because of their career demands. What's the best way to sustain a relationship in which your partner lives somewhere else?

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The two of us have thought a great deal about this. Although Jordan lives in San Francisco and Jessica lives in New York City, we have been dating for nearly two years.

Long-distance relationships are like all relationships in that, to be healthy, they require open communication and shared interests and values. Still, a long-distance romance tests your commitment to each other and your communication skills more than a typical romance. It's tough to be apart. The physical aspects of love are vital. Human communication relies on many nonverbal cues. Even the most explosive romantic chemistry loses something when you can't be in each other's presence.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is coping with the uncertainty of what will happen with your relationship. The human mind tends to overanalyze, to attribute too much significance to isolated comments and unexpected feelings. When you can't see or touch each other, this tendency becomes magnified. It's important to stop yourself from jumping to conclusions. Maybe the other person didn't really mean what he said in the way you understood it, or maybe your feelings are more a result of the distance than the particular issue your mind has latched onto. Email is a good way to stay in touch when you're in different time zones, but remember that it doesn't convey tone well. Keep communicating and expressing your feelings and goals. Physical distance is a lot easier to survive than emotional distance.

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Long-distance relationships require either a foundation—a long period of time together to start out with—or a goal—an eventual plan to be together—in order to succeed. Jeff and Tara Samuels of Mountain View, California, had both. They met while playing for their college's coed ultimate frisbee team. They dated for two years and fell in love. That was the foundation.

After graduation, Jeff was awarded a fellowship to live abroad for one year. During that time, Tara lived in New York City. They saw each other only once that entire year, over the holidays. But they had regular phone conversations; they trusted one another and they believed in their love; and they also had a goal—they knew that Jeff would be moving to New York after completing his fellowship. Their realistic approach and faith in one another paid off. Ten years later, Jeff and Tara are happily married and they have a young son.

Having a goal means that you figure out when, where and how you will be living in the same place. In general, the sooner you get to the same location the better. Even so, make the move only when you feel safe and secure in each other's love. Jessica spent a summer living in San Francisco before deciding that's where she wants to be. Before you move, plan and talk realistically about what work you will do, and what kind of community you will develop in your new location. And if you are going away from your partner for a period of time, discuss how you will readjust to each other upon your return. Regular communication, thoughtful gestures and a future goal of being together again in the same place helps couples stay tightly bonded.

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Here are some tips to keep long-distance love going strong:

• Get on the same cell phone plan so that your conversations don't drive up your bill. Approach talking on the phone not as a burden, but a way to learn more about each other without the distraction of physical attraction.

Although Jessica understands that Jordan doesn't really like to talk on the phone for a long time, some of our best and most in-depth conversations have been over the phone. Set up regular times to talk if your schedules are conflicting. Sometimes it's nice just to call to say "I love you."

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Your Comments (4)

Thank you so much for retreving this recipe for me!!! I deeply appreciate your help and the time you took to do this for me. Merry Christmas! Sincerely, Anna Long

I have been trying for quite some time now to retrieve a recipe you printed in your November 2007 issue of Guideposts. It was a recipe from Simon Hurst's for Pumpkin Pudding. Is there anyway you can forward me a copy of this recipe. I still have my book, but unfortunately I cut it out to save it. Need I say more? Thank you for your help. along

Here you are, Anna: Simon’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding As an Englishman celebrating Thanksgiving I wanted to combine the traditional pumpkin pie with the bread puddings of my youth. Here’s how: Pudding 8 slices bread, cubed (stale bread will do) 2 cups whole milk 4 eggs 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup butter, melted 1/4 cup raisins (mixed dark and white is good) 1 can pumpkin-pie filling 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg Sauce 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup water 3/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla Place bread in greased Crock-Pot. Beat together milk and eggs. Stir in sugar, butter, raisins, pumpkin-pie filling, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over bread and stir. Cover; cook on high 1 hour. Reduce heat to low;cook 3 to 4 hours or until temperature is 160°F. Make sauce just before pudding is done. Begin by melting butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add water, sugar and vanilla. Bring to boil. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until thickened. Pour sauce over hot bread pudding.

I love the story, my husband and I were reconnected after 22 years apart. We both had been married and divorced with 2 boys each, we started to talk again in 1996 and started dating again after 22yrs, we dated when we were 14 and 16yrs old, I moved to Newport, RI and forgot about a lot of things from my past in Connecticut, except him. We reconnected like we'd never been apart at all. We bought our house in 2001 and married in 2003. I like to read the touching stories like the husband and wife in this story.

Doris Hann