Maple Alps

romantic 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!


 

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?


 
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps11 Comments

With Valentine’s Day over and boxed heart candy at 75% off, I have caught myself giving a little sigh. You see, I just love Valentine’s Day (VD). It’s something about the pink and hearts everywhere that makes it impossible for me to be mad at anyone, reminds me of how much I am loved (and love!) and allows me to embrace my inner “girl.” Though I’ve never done anything extra special on February 14, I have always thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere it provides.

When my husband and I first started dating, he made some remark about every day being Valentine’s Day with him. While he was saying it somewhat lightly, there was definitely truth to his statement. Why should a day (regardless of the history and background of it) predominantly celebrating love, be the only day we think about sharing with those we care about how much we love them? It just doesn’t seem right.

If you, like me, are feeling a little sad that the holiday has passed us by already, you can hold your chin up a little higher. Some of my blogging friends have helped me out with a fun project to share with all of you some great ideas to keep the VD feelings all year long!
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day + Free Printable | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day "Valentine's Day" by performing little acts of kindness for the people around us that we love: our spouses, friends, neighbours, and families. We can serve them, meet their needs, and show them just how much we love them!
- Abbey of Small Town Soul

We can make every day Valentine's Day by remembering why we love in the first place and being intentional! I love Jim Elliot's quote - "Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." So in daily life, whether I'm spending time with someone or doing something, I strive to focus on them (instead of checking my phone, wondering what to say in response, going for efficiency over caring) and love them to the best of my ability, depending on God's grace to help me best love and serve them/perform the task at hand!
- Jessica of Duly Noted Ink

Have a quiet moment together like seeing the sunrise or sunset, viewing the ocean, sitting on a hill and embracing earth's natural beauty together or even sitting in front of a fireplace with some hot chocolate. Just being around each other is something wonderful.
- Martika of Coffee Time With Him

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

When our girls were 4 and 6 we started a new tradition for Valentine's Day. I set out 4 boxes, one for each family member. I had paper, pens, pink and white doilies, and lots of stickers available. Each person got to write out qualities they liked in each family member, things they appreciated, and favourite memories. It was to be a secret. On Valentine's we took turns reading them out loud. Because of their ages, they needed lots of coaching, memory jogging, and help writing/typing. They are 27 and 25 and we still do this, though sometimes it's through cards or texts throughout the day. It's really a skill I wanted to encourage--to find things we love about each other and what makes the other person feel loved.
- Terri from Terri Fullerton

I make every day Valentines Day by learning my hubby's love language and making sure I'm using it!
-Susannah from Simple Moments Stick

I'm such a weirdo but, I don't care much about Valentine's Day. It's sorta man-made and regimented. For years, I've told my husband to love me throughout the year and he can just go "light" on Valentine's Day. My love language is gifts so he sends flowers often, buys me things, surprises me with gifts all year. So I kinda feel like every day is Valentine's Day. Should he ever slack, then I might put more emphasis on that one day in February. 
- Teri of Godsy Girl

It's not something I do all the time, but every now and then I will make dinner for my kids (before an early bedtime) and then make dinner for my husband and myself after the kids go to bed. I'm also known for making treats and snacks for after the kids go to bed. Truffles anyone?
- Erin from Momma's Living Room

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

By writing little "love notes" filled with words of appreciation for our loved ones on a regular basis. You never know how much a kind note might mean to someone.
- Rachel from The Random Writings

We need to know how we are loved. I like to leave notes for my family that tell them I love you because . . . . your are brave, kind, considerate etc and then tell them how I saw that in them.
- Kim from Day to Day Adventures

My boyfriend texts me every morning "Good Morning Beautiful!" which puts a smile on my face and starts my day off right. 
- Pamela from Bible Geek Lifestyle

We can make every day Valentine's Day by constantly pushing ourselves to serve our spouse. Valentine's Day is great because we all seem to want to make our significant other happier. What if they had a hard day at work and it wasn't Valentine's Day? The probably need our love and support more at that time.
- Courtney from Happy Little Shopping Secret

I would say to make everyday Valentine's day we could ask ourselves, "How can I make today a little bit brighter or easier for my spouse?" It could be by doing something simple or leaving them a little note or just taking an extra minute to tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
- Kaitlyn from Lily and Mama

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day Valentine's day by having quick morning cuddles before starting the day! I love resting on my husband's chest and kissing him on the cheek with his arm around me! It's sweet and simple. Just a little way to say "I just woke up, and you're on my mind!"
- Elizabeth  from Wanderlust + Heart

From a relationship standpoint, I think making a conscious effort to do something nice for or compliment someone you care about can make each day Valentine's Day for you and that other person. From a personal standpoint, taking a few minutes each day to reflect on your life and give yourself a nice little pamper session, pep talk, or general treat can make each day Valentine's Day for you.
- Jessi from Roses in Ink

It might seem over simple ... But ... To make every day like Valentines, touch your spouse. A loving caress - a neck rub, a hand placed gently on a forearm, "footsie" under the table, a kiss on the cheek, etc. As husband and wife, we can be together all day and never touch. It happens all too easily - especially if we have children to nurture.
- Lori from Encourage Your Spouse

Meet your spouse's love language
- Audrey of Life with Little People

 

How would you make every day Valentine's Day? Let me know in the comments below!


 
 

One Year of Marriage.

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps24 Comments

Guys! I can absolutely not believe that just a year ago today I married my best friend! The year went by so fast that I was scared to blink at times.  Time is a strange thing.

Almost everyone told me the first year of marriage is the hardest. While I am not sure if I've found that to be true (the transition was strangely smooth and natural for us), there were definitely some adjustments that needed to be made when joining my life with J's. If you were around six months ago for my recap on six months of marriage, you'll know that I had already done a lot of thinking about these things. Today, I invite you to see what's changed - or stayed the same - after another six.

One Year of Marriage | www.maplealps.com

In marriage, you share everything but your toothbrush

And even that may not be true. Mix-ups, confusion, and emergencies do happen...Oh, and when your spouse makes the most disgusted face ever when he realizes he's grabbed your toothbrush instead of his, try not to take it tooooooo personally ;)

The first year of marriage doesn't have to be hard.

Yes, there are adjustments that could be difficult, but approaching marriage intentionally and with open communication and a humble attitude will make these much more manageable. Make good habits that will stick for life now.

Marriage won't fix your personal problems.

Need I say more? You're not going to be suddenly selfless or never spend another wasted cent after you say, "I do." You may even still struggle with other things. Marriage is not a fix-all for personal issues. Continue growing in grace. 

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Everyone has an opinion on your marriage and advice for it.

All you have to do is smile, nod and say, "Thank you for sharing." Then, really think about it. Don't be too proud to listen if it is really sound advice - even if it hurts. If it's completely ridiculous and uncalled for, still smile, nod, and say, "Thank you for sharing." THEN RUN AWAY!

Don't Assume...

...I'll let you finish that one ;-)

Appreciate Eachother

Taking each other for granted is not a good thing. Appreciate one another - and let the other know how much you appreciate them - and why! Thoughtfulness goes a long way.

Live-in accountability is usually a good thing

Until that morning you literally get dragged you out of bed to work out ... But no one regrets a good work out, right? But seriously, having someone right there to keep you accountable in different areas of your life is amazing. Plus, being and having a personal cheerleader is a fantastic.

Everything I learned in the first six months still applies today.

You can head over here to read what I learned in six months as a refresher if you read it already, or for something new if you haven't. It turns out love is still a decision, prayer is still necessary, and cuddling is still a challenge. Go figure.


Marriage is grand, but as with every aspect of life, it needs to be approached intentionally for the greatest success. I'm still learning that myself. 

What about you? Any marriage tips for a newlywed?

PS: We'll be celebrating today, so be sure to follow along on SnapChat and Instagram (@MapleAlps)