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Making Long Distance Relationships Work

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

A while ago, I wrote about the truth (according to me) of long distance relationships (LDR). For a while after that, I got a few emails asking for some practical tips to making LDRs work. Since I can’t really speak for anyone else, I decided to share my personal experience and the things that helped us stay [mostly] sane during our season of long distance. It really can work out! J and I were 7000km and 8 time zones apart. Actually, both sets of our parents also spent time doing long distance in the era of no Skype! Maybe it runs in our blood?

I’m sharing some things that will help your long distance relationship be successful!

Are Long Distance Relationships Successful? | www.maplealps.com

Set Goals

The whole goal of our relationship from the very beginning was marriage, and because it was a mindset of ours, long distance, though annoying, wasn’t too terrible a thing.

Communication

THIS IS KEY! And something I personally had to work on (and still am….). Because you’re so far away and can’t see each other, being able to communicate and express yourselves is important. Bonus: when all you can do is talk and communicate, you get to know each other so, so well.

Do Things “Together”

Well into our relationship, the most irritating thing to me was the feeling that we were both living separate lives. When we talked, we would just fill each other in on things we had done that day and talk about things we were going to do with others, etc. It was pretty depressing at times. We decided to start doing more things “together.” You can get creative with this, but some ideas are reading the same book or working on a project together. A friend and I used to stream shows at the same time while skyping. I’ve even studied and skyped. It was like having the person in the room - just not.

Snail Mail

Never underestimate the power of snail mail. Seriously. I love putting together packages and mailing cards. I also love receiving said things. Chances are, you do too - and so will your significant other!

See Each Other as Often as Possible

It can be hard to see each other, especially when you are far apart and wallets aren’t very full. But make the effort to do it as much as you can. Plan your next visits; make bucket lists of things to do and eat while you’re together. And countdown to make it extra exciting.

Set Boundaries

Not seeing each other for long periods of time and then suddenly getting a large dose is sometimes like letting a candy-deprived kid loose in a candy store - it could end up with a tummy ache and a lot of regret. Avoid these after effects by setting boundaries and holding each other accountable for them. Maintaining purity can be hard sometimes, but not impossible. Set boundaries so you can honor each other and ultimately God.

Get creative

We’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries over skype. Light a candle and blow it out. Send a CD with instructions. Send flowers from the local flower shop. The ideas are endless!

Prioritize Your Relationship

Need I say more? You will get out what you put in. If you want your relationship to work, don’t constantly put it on the backburner. If you don’t intentionally approach your relationships, they won’t be beneficial to you or the other party. This does not only apply to long distance relationships, or even romantic ones, by the way! Cultivating relationships is what makes them last!

Have God as the Center

We can’t truly love the way God loves, if His love is not in us. Having God at the center of your relationship is key.

 

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting into an Intercultural Relationship

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps2 Comments

Interracial and intercultural relationships are becoming more and more normal these days with the world opening up as a global world. Growing up, I had interracial parents from very different backgrounds, and so it didn’t seem strange when my husband and I got together and have been making it work.

I decided that in honor of Loving Day, I would share a few things that I wish I knew before getting into an intercultural relationship.

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting into an Intercultural Relationship | www.maplealps.com


One.
Knowing your spouse’s mother tongue will help so much in understanding where they are coming from. Language is deeply connected with culture and understanding that what might be a literally translated idiom from one tongue could be an insult to another could possibly be the prevention of World War Three in your home. Trust me. There have been so many times where one of of has had to say (kindly, of course), “Well I know in [your language] you say [this], but in [my language] it can be taken as [this].” On the other hand, if you know each other so well and are switching between languages in your home, it’s easy to forget to mention this, and you end up offending someone outside of your home. But that is another story, heh.



Two. Your living possibilities suddenly expand. I mean, yes, you can always live wherever you want in the world, but once you marry someone from a different country, the process usually becomes a tad easier. While we live in a country where neither of us are from, we have some strange kind of peace of mind that we have options in case something happens.



Three. Travel becomes special. You develop a love for your spouse’s country and it becomes a second home for you. You have people from all over the world to visit. It also becomes extra special when you get to explore new countries and cultures with each other!



Four. Your culinary tastes will expand. Chances are that your spouse’s culture eats differently than yours! This could, of course, be good or bad. But if you’re an adventurous eater like I am, then it definitely is a good thing. I enjoy learning how to make specialties from my husband’s country, and I love sharing favourites from mine with him! When we go to international markets, we are like little kids running up and down the aisles and drop far too much money to share these special indulgences with each other.



Five. Your home has its own culture. While your past plays a part in how your home culture turns out, it’s important to focus on making it yours - together. That may mean taking things you love about one culture and omitting things that are not as desirable. Focusing on building your own family is important, rather than trying to hold on selfishly to one way or another. Compromise is good, but blending is even better!

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting into an Intercultural Relationship | www.maplealps.com

Six. Home is where the heart is. While it may be hard to leave family behind (a possibility when marrying someone from a different country), it is an adventure to start a new one. When so far away from those you grew up with and who are near and dear to your heart, you learn to lean on God and your spouse to get you through that. Sometimes you only have each other and that is okay.



Seven. There are still people out there who disagree with interracial marriages, but that doesn’t have to get you down. Just because people might automatically assume certain things, doesn’t mean your relationship is not valid. These situations can be great when turned into teaching moments. Certain comments may hurt, but learn to let them slide. Everyone is at a different level of understanding, and some people might not even know that they are being offensive.



Eight. Humans are humans. Humans are very different, and yet very similar. Even though we might have different physical appearances or cultural backgrounds, we all have similar needs and longings, but just various ways of expressing them.




Nine. Communication style varies across cultures, but it’s important nonetheless. Any relationship, romantic or not, depends on communication. Understanding where the other person is coming from and how certain things are communicated is important. It will also help you avoid a lot of unnecessary hurt due to misunderstandings. Communicate, communicate, communicate! And yes, it is much easier said than done sometimes.

Ten. True love is unconditional. I think I’ll leave it at that for now.


Are you or anyone you know in an intercultural or interracial relationship? Tell me about it in the comments below!


 

The Truth About Long Distance Relationships

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps14 Comments

I don't know that I’m a master of long distance relationships, but the truth of it is, I’ve been in all sorts of them for years. I went to school abroad, which means my family was always a long distance away (not to mention my close friends) and I dated an Austrian long distance for 3 years (which ended, thankfully, in marriage! Bam! Didn’t see that one coming, did you?). After that, we moved to a place where none of our family or close childhood friends live. So, long distance relationships are kind of my life.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time (even before Maple Alps was born), and after several different requests, I’ve finally decided to sit down and write out a few thoughts. Later, I’ll post some practical ways to deal with long distance relationships, but today, I wanted to share the things Long Distance taught and solidified in me.

Note: In today’s post, when I address long distance, I will be talking about all sorts of relationships - not exclusively dating ones. But don’t worry, we’ll get to those ;-)

The Truth About Long Distance Relationships

Communication is Much More than Words

You have probably heard that communication is only 7% verbal (a 'fact' being questioned), but the main point is, regardless of the numbers, communication is more nonverbal than verbal. I'm not dismissing a good letter or phone call (both important means of communicating long distance), but thankfully, we now have Skype and FaceTime.

 

Be Thankful for the Season You Are In

There were times when it was frustrating that I could not just drive a few minutes and be at the door of someone I knew well. But I learned to be thankful for the season I was in and embraced it! Taking time to meet new people, make new friends and explore my borders was worth it

 

Be Independent and Be You

It was kind of shocking to find myself in a place where none of my family history or current associations were known. I didn’t have anyone’s preconceived ideas of who or what I should be based on where I was from, and was able to really find who I was in the Lord. When you don’t have your friends, family or significant other around as a crutch, you have to just be...you (gasp!). I mean, who else will you be? Some lose their sense of identity, but instead of letting this happen, why not take advantage of it and find out who you are? I struggled with this for a short time, but I soon found a sense of freedom. Now that I've established myself as an individual, I have no problem just being me.

 

Things Change When You're Away

Things are never as you left them. Siblings grow taller and more mature, parents sprout a few more grey hairs, grandparents slow down, and friends make new friends. People move. People die. People give birth. When I realized that not all changes were pleasant, and hardly any of them were expected, it helped to remember that I had changed a lot too.

 

We Are All in a Long Distance Relationship

With the one who loves us the most. With our Creator, Redeemer and Best Friend. This was one of the things that hit me the hardest while going through this process. I always wondered how I could have such a close relationship with someone I never saw, and it wasn’t until I moved away from those I love that I understood. God loves us so much and wants a real relationship with us! The effort that goes into maintaining my other [long distance] relationships should be dim in comparison with the efforts with Him. The one thing that's different about this relationship, though, is that He never is actually far away. 

 

So the truth about long distance relationships is basically that they're awful and awesome at the same time. Then again, everything is what you make it. That is to say: you get out what you put in!

What about you? Are you, or have you been, in a long distance relationship? What did you learn?