Here I was almost forgetting what long distance is like when it strikes again. I should say I have it lucky compared to some gals, but I can’t help missing the man when he’s gone.
When we started our relationship in 2008, we had over 3 months where we didn’t see each other before Kay visited me in America and it took me 5 months to secure a job and residence permit in Switzerland. We started off like any “normal” couple where I lived at my host family’s house, working as an au pair and I would see Kay on the weekends.
With his first job out of university, Kay worked hard to find a flat before I moved over so that when I visited him on the weekends we wouldn’t be shacking up in his parent’s house. (Awkward.) During the week we talked on instant messenger or he would phone if he was out of the country. He had acquired a job that would require some traveling when he was trained up.
When I started my German courses in early 2009, the train connections to class brought me half way to Kay’s flat, so I would often jump on a train in his direction instead of heading home. I would either spend a couple hours with him and head home or spend the night and take a very early train back to my host family in the morning so that I could still take the kids to school. Pretty soon with class, I was seeing Kay every single day whether it was for a long time or not. I started doing wife-like things like completely reorganizing the kitchen (I asked first!) and buying pots and appliances here and there.
In the summer of 2009 I finally secured a design position, but it required me exiting the country for the duration of the visa process. Naturally I used the 2.5 months to spend time with family in America and Kay even traveled with me for two weeks, but it was another long summer apart. When I arrived back in the autumn, Kay’s job had developed into a full-force 50% or more traveling gig.
For the first months of our relationship, I felt like it worked out well to have him travel because although we had decided to move in together rather quickly, we still had a lot of time on our own with his traveling. For us, it didn’t make sense for him to have a flat he would only be in 50% of the time and for me to acquire a flat if I would be at his place every time he was in town. I went home for Christmas while Kay stayed. It was the most depressing Christmas after we’d spent the last one together and I vowed not to take holiday without him again if I could help it.
But as 2010 wore on and my visa troubles reemerged, Kay’s traveling started to wear on us. It was especially upsetting when he would find out he needed to travel with less than 24hrs notice or when he would unexpectedly need to stay longer even when he was at the airport coming home. Nobody likes saying goodbye to their man in the morning only to receive a phone call during the day that he won’t be coming home that night. We could barely plan any activities to do at home with his flighty schedule.
When he arrived home from Brazil after traveling three weeks longer without me, he proposed. But for the rest of the summer it seemed like I hardly saw him. We got married less than three months after he proposed because of the residence issues and Kay managed to fly home a few days before the wedding, marry me and take me to Amsterdam for a minimoon before he was off the next week.
Now for the past couple years I’ve been rather spoiled. Kay changed jobs and he hasn’t been traveling nearly as much. Maybe a week or two here and there. But there is still always his annual army time. Last year it was almost “easy” to have him leave for three weeks before our religious wedding in the States. I was so busy with last minute details and DIY projects I honestly didn’t miss him that much.
In fact, it was so easy that over the year we’ve talked more increasingly about what will happen when he wants to go to school for an MBA in a few years. Kay is planning roughly to go to school in 4-5 years and we are not sure which country he will be in and if it would be worth it for me to quit my job and travel with him for 1-2 years before we return. It is not exactly easy for me to find English-speaking jobs in Switzerland so for the moment I’m pretty set. But I wonder how I could endure a whole year or two of long distance. If he would move to America for instance, weekend trips would not really be possible. If he moves to London or Paris, flying or taking a train for the weekend is much more realistic and affordable, although still a sizable drain on finances.
He’s even requested at work if he can do an extended trip for 10 weeks to build up sales, which would be a mini-test to see how we do with long distance again. Honestly, sometimes when he is abroad is not so bad as long as we send regular emails, skype or instant message when possible, and when I know for sure when he’s coming home. When he’s in Switzerland in the army… it’s another story.
This week he left for the army and he told me he would come home on the weekend, but on Friday he unexpectedly found out that he would be required to stay over the weekend and today he told me he won’t be able to call me until Wednesday. He can’t do anything about it, but it upsets me, because I didn’t plan anything for the weekend thinking he would come home and in Switzerland everyone plans their social life two weeks in advance so most of my friends are busy.
I thought I was doing fine with him gone, but honestly finding out he’s not coming home is such a disappointment that it depresses me about his absence. I start thinking about the little things like sleeping next to him and putting my arms around his neck. Just having his presence in the flat. Then I start thinking about how I’m 25 and this is maybe the best physical time of my life and my husband is gone. Why can’t he go on trips when I’m 50 and sagging? (Kidding, I probably won’t want him to leave then either!)
So I thought about my pros and cons of long distance:
Long Distance Pros:
- I can hog the entire bed
- Stay up as late as I want
- Have as many girls nights I want
- Full control over music in the house
- The house is so much cleaner! (Sorry Kay, it’s true!)
- Time to chill alone, which I really appreciate sometimes
- Eat whatever Kay hates
Long Distance Cons:
- I MISS HIM
- I get lonely in the house
- We can’t plan weekend activities together
- I get used to living alone and it’s hard to go back to normal when he comes back (this is maybe the worst part!)
- I have to carry all the groceries home myself… ugh heavy!
- I loathe cooking for just myself so I eat a lot of crap instead of cooking
- Sometimes I get upset if I don’t understand something important in German and he’s not there to explain
I also find it really hard to communicate long distance sometimes. I’m much better about writing lengthy emails about the banal things I did that day, whereas Kay views his daily activities as boring so he just writes that he loves and misses me. When we speak on the phone during his army stints or via Skype, it’s even worse. We are both pretty bad about talking on the phone and usually our phone calls last 5-10 minutes max.
Sometimes if he’s busy in the army I’ll only get a 5 minute phone call and it’s just not enough time to say everything I want to… but every time we talk on the phone my mind goes blank, so even if we have a whole 10 minutes, I can’t think of anything to say until he hangs up. It’s always during the day or later in the evening I realize I forgot to tell him something important that I want to talk about. Take today for example… I wrote our building manager (auf Deutsch!) about the electricity in our flat and he asked me if I want to go to an appointment during October. I can’t go because it’s a work day, but Kay could possibly go if he takes a day off and I completely forgot about asking him because I was too preoccupied with his news about not coming home! I just sat there on the phone whimpering.
Also, sometimes I get paranoid that something terrible will happen and the Swiss government is going to deport me because my husband is away. I know this is all in my head, but I worry nonetheless and I always feel more validated when Kay is here. The worst is if I get a letter in German about my residency while he’s away. Even if I totally understand the letter and what to do, it makes me feel all upset when he’s gone. Maybe I’m just crazy. Kay thinks so.
I’m still so grateful we’ve never had to do a year or more apart like some couples, but long distance seems to be a part of our relationship that is not going to be over for awhile. I’ll take all the Kay time I can get in the mean time.
Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? What are the pros and cons for you?