While business keeps you and your spouse on opposite sides of the world, technology keeps you connected. Use your tech-tools wisely and your romance can flourish despite the distance.
Do not be naïve: Distance definitely can destroy a relationship. Loneliness and boredom drive people to very stupid mistakes. Managed well, though, extended absences need not ravage a good relationship. Well-traveled couples say frequent, loving communication makes all the difference, and they stress the essential role high-tech tools play in keeping love alive.
Romantics Do It Daily
Frequency matters most, road warriors insist. To maintain consistency and continuity in their relationship, couples must talk in-person, preferably face –to-face, at least once a day. Quick voicemails don’t count, but the occasional “love you, miss you” message always matters. Substance counts, too. Couples frequently make the serious mistake of wasting their precious talk-time on venting: Wives complain about the household grind, husbands complain about work, and “I love you” takes a split-second just before hanging-up or clicking “exit.” All wrong, experts say. Romance and love must dominate the conversation.
Sometimes, what you leave-out counts as much as what you put-in. When partners raise their long-distance doubts, drag-out their trust issues, voice their suspicions, and express their feelings of neglect and abandonment, they often plant suggestions instead of allaying their fears. “Of course, you miss one another,” psychologist Andie MacBryde acknowledges. “Instead of complaining about it, specify what you miss and how you miss it. ‘I love and miss the soft spot at the nape of your neck’ contributes a lot more to the relationship than ‘I fear you will fool around with Frank’.” Dr. MacBryde stresses, “Couples should seize this special opportunity to share dreams, wishes, and fantasies. Make talk time the highlight of each and every day.” Andie MacBryde concedes couples must take care of domestic business, but she very strongly recommends they do the dirty work via routine e-mails.
Work All the tools, Gadgets, Widgets, and Apps
Experienced travelers and psychologists agree internet and wireless communications make regular and meaningful communication so easy that neither partner has any good reason or excuse to postpone, neglect, or wimp-out on the everyday chat. They suggest seven indispensible tech tools to keep love alive:
- Video chat—a must. Schedule a regular daily video chat, preferably just before bed time. Skype leads the league in video-chat services—easy to install, easy to use, and extremely habit forming…in a good way. Wise wives say they prepare for Skype sessions as if they were preparing for a date, devoting time and attention, at least, to features the web-cam can see. One wife says flatly, “We talk more and better when he’s on the road than we ever talk at home. We actually remember why we like one another,” she smiles.
- Tweet and text—essential. These 140-character wonders provide the medium for romantic little notes. “Saw beautiful flowers today and thought of you,” or “Could not get you out of thoughts all day long.”
- Regular e-mail—not negotiable. “Regular” is a word which here means “at least every other day,” a proper supplement to video chatting. Regular e-mail provides the perfect medium for two crucial forms of communication—first, the essentials of household business and family finance; and, second, both reassurance the relationship matters and detailed explanation of why it matters.
- A private blog—a guilty pleasure. Romance thrives on naughty secrets, and imagination need know no bounds. A private blog gives you a place to share secrets without fear the kids, your mother, or Aunt Edna will discover your most private thoughts. Of course, you may post pictures and videos there, too.
- YouTube—a way to share your world. Good, but comes with a caution: Experts recommend the itinerant partner use YouTube to post videos of the places he or she goes, orienting the stay-at-home partner to life on the road, stripping away the glamour and draining away the doubt. For the wife at home in southern California, a three-minute video of Sheboygan will keep the everyday life of a business traveler very real.
- Shared activities—preserve the special stuff. If the two of you always watch your favorite television show curled-up on the couch, keep the custom alive, watching together and IM’ing while you watch. Use instant messaging to preserve and protect the most important elements of your everyday communication.
- The low-tech solution works wonders. “I recommend business travelers become connoisseurs of elegant greeting cards,” Andie MacBryde says. “No one handwrites letters any more, so a note in a thoughtfully chosen card has tremendous power—even more than flowers or chocolate.” Dr. MacBryde stresses, however, “thoughtfully chosen” stands-out as the key phrase in her recommendation.
Many couples report, while geography kept them apart, they actually spent more and better time together than when they lived under the same roof and shared a bed. Some couples honestly confess their time apart rekindled their romance, because they did not waste precious time on discussion of everyday stuff; instead they focused on each other and their future together. Successful couples unanimously agree with the age-old wisdom: Absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Photo credit: Bon anniversaire ! by Global X/flickr