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Monday, March 17, 2008

Surviving A Long Distance Marriage

Some of my workmates actually thought that my husband lived in Sydney already...that's why when I told them the good news that he is finally coming over to live with me, their reaction was "Oh I thought your husband was here ages ago!!!!". After that the normal questions would be "How long have you been apart?" and "So you mean you haven't seen each other since your honeymoon?", and my answer to those would be "14 months since we got married" and "Oh yes" respectively.

The ones whom I'm good friends with would have a bonus question: "How were you able to do it?" referring of course to our long distance marriage.

Let me first admit that having a long distance relationship when you're still boyfriend-girlfriend is very different from a long distance relationship when you're already married. I can't pinpoint exactly but all I know was that when my husband and I parted after our honeymoon, it was more painful and I felt more empty than ever. Ibang-iba sa na-feel ko nang maghiwalay kami na mag-bf palang kami.

Anyway, sa dami ng nagtanong sa akin ng question na "Paano nyo nagawang magkahiwalay ng matagal?", eto nakaipon na ako ng sagot (hahaha):

- We are never too dependent on each other. I think this reason stems from the fact that our nature as a couple is that we are two happy and independent human beings. We have this thinking that we can survive and be happy without each other if needs be. And this factor was a big help in not sweating the long distance issue so much.

- We give each other the freedom to enjoy each other's here and now. With the thousand miles between us, we took out any pressure from each other, we gave each other space and we didn't follow any strict routines. We never used the phrase "Long distance na nga tayo, di mo pa ako bigyan ng time." We never had a serious issue with time. I made sure that even if we are apart, we lived in the present by enjoying what is given to us at any given moment.

- We always respect each other's time. There was never a moment that Chris called me in the middle of dinner with family or friends (or any other gimik) or I would call him in the middle of work or when he's out with friends. The only reason why we would call each other during gimik times was only if it was an emergency. And calls like this usually took less than five minutes. Other than respect for each other's time, we strongly feel that it is rude to do this infront of our family and friends. Gigimik-gimik kami tapos mag-uusap lang din pala kami sa telepono, ano yun?

- We are always ready to take a backseat for each other. Whenever Chris is doing a big project at work (i.e. the furniture exhibitions) I have to take a back seat and will never disturb him--no phone calls on the days he is preparing for the event...even email is a no-no. And if I'm too busy, he does the same for me.

- We don't have strict rules on when we should communicate. A lot of family and friends are amazed with this fact: Chris and I never email, call or chat everyday. Believe it or not, nakakatagal kami ng ilang araw na walang email or walang tawagan. We rarely chat because when I'm home, he's still at work (we have about 6-7 hours difference). Our normal phone dates are only every Friday and Saturday night. Yun lang. Emailing each other comes in trickles. And believe it or not, we don't send each other photos. He sees me only when he checks my Multiply site, which isn't all the time either.

- We are focused. We get tired, we cry together, we get lonely...but whenever sadness looms ahead, we embrace the pain and tell each other "This too shall pass, let's find our center and focus." We never let our emotions get the better of us. We believe it is important to be logical about things for better perspective.

- We use a lot of sense of humour and positive thinking. Malungkot talaga ang long distance relationship, and if you really love someone, kahit 5 minutes lang pwede mo yang ma-miss diba? But if you will always wallow and focus on the negatives, dadami lang ang wrinkles nyo and it will not solve anything. That's why we make an effort to make each other laugh even if we are sad sometimes. We also acknowledge that it is a sad thing this being away but in a few minutes, we move on and think of the good things that will come out of our sacrifices.

- We hold on to our faith even more. In every challenge in our relationship as a couple it is easier to let go and let things be because of our faith. God is good, he is always faithful and he never fails.

- We are cool :). We never sweat the small stuff. That's why family and friends feel na parang wala lang ang lahat sa amin. Which is true in some ways. The thing is, we both decided to do this so why make a big deal out of it diba? Instead of focusing on being apart, we made the most of the time we spent apart...we both gained friends, made good with our respective careers, explored new countries and learned a lot of things that helped us became better individuals.

- We are a TEAM. In every decision, big or small, we take into considerations each other's values and we support each other 100 percent. We are each other's confidante and best friend. We are very independent individuals but as a couple, we are whole, we are PARTNERS bringing both our powers together...kaya mas madaling dalhin ang relasyon kahit malayo kami sa isa't-isa.

Now that our long distance marriage is coming to an end, we are grateful that the past 14 months wasn't that bad to us---it's still all good as the Aussies say. It is fulfilling, it is an achievement, it is of great learning and growth. And we will always be proud of ourselves that we were able to surpass this.

My "Waiting" photo captured by Jon Dael. Taken at Darling Harbour, and if you will notice there were two birds on both sides waiting with me.