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relationships

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!


 

On Adding Value

FaithAmanda Walter | Maple Alps2 Comments

The other night, my husband turned to me and said the sweetest thing:

“You add value to my life.”

It really got me thinking. I’m always trying to be intentional about what I add to my life, but am I intentional about what I add to the lives of those around me?

I’d like to think that that I always try to be considerate and intentional with my interactions, but sometimes it’s easy to let our words or behaviour slip through the cracks. Today, I want to explore a few broad guidelines to keep in mind when interacting with others intentionally that will help you add value to their lives.

On Adding Value to Others | www.maplealps.com

Consider Your Words

This may be obvious, but being careful of the words we choose is important. Do we inspire and encourage, or do we mock and tear down? Are our words too few or too many? Are we too quick to speak or accuse?

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)

It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman. (Proverbs 21:19, ESV)

Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.(Proverbs 17:5, ESV)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

(1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV)

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (James 1:19, ESV)

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.(Proverbs 17:28, ESV)

 

Consider Your Actions

Think about your actions and interactions. What we DO is louder than what we SAY. How do we treat others and how might they perceive our actions? How do we act even when we don't think others are watching (by the way, someone is always watching). Do our actions stem from our hearts - or do we just "act good" without having our heart in it?

Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:5, ESV)

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:23-25, ESV)

 

Consider Service

What do we do for others that can add value to their lives? It could be as simple as a smile, a hug, a cup of tea. Maybe some time together sharing that cup of tea. Do we meet greater needs too? Do we have an ear that listens, an eye that pays attention to basic needs that need to be met...simple consideration for others? We may tell someone that Jesus loves them, but do we show them Jesus' love?

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17, ESV)

 

Consider Everything

What you put into your life, you’ll get [and give] out. I think I'll just let Paul finish off this one:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, ESV)

 

How do others add value to your life? How do you try adding value to others?


 

The Crucial Element in a Long Distance Relationship

Ask Amanda, RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment
The Crucial Element in a Long Distance Relationship | www.maplealps.com

 

Question: What was the crucial element that helped your long distance relationship?


I guess quite a few of you must be in long distance relationships, because I get this question quite often. In a globalized world, I suppose dating or even being married long distance is getting more common.


Let’s see…


My husband and I spent 3 years in a long distance relationship before getting engaged. With the Atlantic Ocean between us, it did not always make it easy (or affordable for students - which we were at the time) to spend time with each other in person. We calculated it the other day, and the time spent face-to-face during that time added up to between 7 and 8 months. While that is not a lot, we did talk almost every day.


Modern technology is fantastic for that and allowed us to stay in almost constant communication (as constant as an 8-hour time difference can allow for anyway…). If it wasn’t letter writing and emails, we could text and video chat - something our parents were not able to do in their own long distance relationships!


Did I mention that even our parents did the same crazy thing? Must be genetic.


Anyhow, despite a large time difference, insane cultural differences, and the fact that we were on different continents, it all still somehow worked out.


To answer your question, there were several factors that affected our successful (in my eyes) long distance relationship. I actually wrote a blog post about it a while ago called, “The Three C’s of Long Distance Dating.” You’ll have to visit to find out what those C’s are and to find some really fun ideas for your own long distance relationship.


But really it all boiled down to intentionality.


I know I use that word a lot, and it’s the theme of this entire website, but it really is true.


Intentionality was the one crucial element that helped our long distance relationship. We chose to make it work, which made every element something we intentionally thought about. Before we even started dating, we knew we were in it for the goal of marriage - and if that didn’t happen, that was okay. But we didn’t see the point of even going through such an ordeal without a goal in mind. What good would that have been?


We intentionally talked about core values with each other, but most importantly, we really tried to intentionally keep our relationship a God-centered one.


Practically, we had to be sure we were reaching out to each other and that the limited time we had to talk was used wisely and we were not distracted with other things. I’m not even kidding when I say that we often created agendas as if we were entering a board meeting before talking. That way we didn’t forget what we needed to share or talk about. There were several resources we used and developed to guide our conversations as well.


All of this is not to say that we have stopped being intentional in our relationship now that we are married - not at all! It’s just that intentionality in our relationship looks a tad different now that we are married.

But more on that dynamic in a different post!


 


Have you been in/are you in a long distance relationship? What was the crucial element that helped you?


 
 

What Happened When We Created a Phone-Free Zone

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps1 Comment

When I was studying abroad and learning German, I decided to make my dorm room an English-free zone. I even made signs and put them on my door and bulletin board, just in case my roommate was tempted to practice her English on me (she never was…).

While my German-speaking husband would love it if we had an English-Free zone in our house (hehe, I’m totally rusty), I somehow convinced him to instead make our bedroom a phone-free zone. It took quite a bit convincing, but we finally managed to do it. For one month, no phones of any sort were allowed to enter our bedroom-at all. And honestly, it was the best thing we could have done - especially since the month we chose was an extremely busy one (you’ll read why in a few paragraphs).

I thought that today I would share what happened during this experiment. At first, I was not sure what exactly to expect, but everything I experienced was extremely positive. Spoiler alert: I’d do it again!

Creating a Phone-Free Zone | www.maplealps.com

 

Phone alarms could still be heard outside the door. The predominant argument that was brought up when I suggested a phone-free bedroom was that my husband uses his phone as an alarm clock. Now, alarm clocks are quite inexpensive and not hard to locate, but for whatever reason, we opt to use our phones instead. I’m more or less a minimalist - I get it - so I suggested just laying our phones outside the door. Guess what? We could still hear the alarms in the morning. Besides that, one was forced to physically get up if they wanted to hit the snooze button. Helped the waking-up process a tad anyway since you were that much closer to the bathroom. I actually use a silent alarm on my Fitbit because I wake up so early, so this was not a huge issue for me.

 

Pillow-talk replaced pre-bed scrolling. I suppose I should mention that on top of eliminating phones from our space, we also agreed to go to bed at roughly the same time (which was a real feat!). Instead of the usual [mostly mindless] scrolling and not talking to each other before praying together and drifting to sleep, we were actually able to talk and tell each other about our days. It was nice to connect in this way, as we are both extremely busy people. There would be weeks during the school year where we would go days without seeing each other or speaking much (the pastor-teacher combination is not really the most ideal at times). This really helped us to be grounded at the end of the day and to not waste any time.

 

Our space became special. Because we were not letting distractions from everywhere imaginable into our room, it almost seemed like a more special place. A place where the outside world could not get in. A place of refuge from the interruptions and the noise. I’ll add a note here that our phones were not allowed in at any time of the day, so it was always nice and still! I thought that I would miss listening to music or podcasts while sitting in bed, but I really didn’t. I had the rest of the day for that, so it was a nice way to wind down.

 

I started to read [print] again. Without the temptation of a phone on my bedside table, the pile of books I had been intending to read started getting shorter and shorter. I decided on a few that I was not interested in, and picked up some really great reads! I was able to actually re-house a few of them back in my bookshelf. I also felt kind of fancy reading or browsing magazines in bed. Am I the only one who feels fancy when doing this? Perhaps you shouldn’t answer that…

What Happened When We Created a Phone-Free Zone | www.maplealps.com

Honestly, after the month was up and phones came back into the bedroom, I was mostly disappointed. While I do try to be more intentional about not letting it take over, I do want to go back to making a phone-free zone again. It’s easy to fall back into the mindless scroll trap and lose time you will never ever get back.

All in all, it’s nice to set aside the device after using it all day. It’s a fantastic way to end each evening.

 

 


I’d highly recommend this experiment to anyone! I’d love to hear how it goes for you!