As military spouses, we’ve all been told at one point or another, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” by a well-meaning friend or family member. And, every time I hear that phrase I want to respond, “Hmm. Try it.”
Instead, with a polite smile and a deep breath, I usually mutter something along the lines of, “Yep. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?”
My husband and I didn’t live in the same city until we’d been married six months. Of our 10 years together, nearly half have been spent apart. Long-distance relationships get such a bad reputation, but I’ve met so many great military couples who have made them work. Could it be possible that with back to back deployments, TDYs, training, individual assignments and more training, your relationship can flourish as if you were in the same zip code?
In her study “Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships,” researcher L. Crystal Jiang found just that.
“Indeed, our culture, emphasizes being together physically and frequent face-to-face contact for close relationships, but long-distance relationships clearly stand against all these values. People don’t have to be so pessimistic about long-distance romance,” said Jiang. “The long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.”
Good to know; it’s definitely possible. But how can you make sure your time apart actually brings you closer together?