Monday, January 26, 2015

We're Together

photo by Tarah Coonan

Last week, I read a fantastic post on Angloyankophile about surviving a long-distance relationship.  It threw me right back to our own transatlantic struggle, when we couldn't see a clear end to our separation and we felt like the first year of our marriage was slipping away without us.  (Remember this post from May?  Oof, dear readers.)  As I scrolled through the raw comments JT's readers had left, I felt an overwhelming sense of camaraderie with everyone who has endured and is enduring what we went through.  There's no "easy' when you're long distance - one situation isn't worse than another - but being kept apart from someone you love by law rather than by personal, professional, or academic choice adds a different dimension to your relationship that only others who have researched the acronyms of immigration can understand.

And the word we use, though it might sound hyperbolic, really is "survive."  I can't imagine what it must be like to wait at home while your partner is serving in a conflict zone, his or her life literally on the front line, but the constant and seemingly-unending stress of an internationally enforced long-distance relationship is traumatic enough.

I bring that up tonight because I've been drafting a post about how Jon and I are doing - you know, what it's like living together after more than two years apart - and it always comes back to this: we're together, and that's something neither of us will ever take for granted.  Our years of long distance are part of the DNA of our relationship; having been separated puts everything we deal with side by side in perspective.

Of course, marriage is hard.  I don't think anyone is under any illusions about how happiness is a choice, doubly so if you're sharing it with someone else.  But it's a choice that Jon and I make together every single day even in the smallest things we do because we remember when it wasn't an option available to us.  As JT wrote, "Our long-distance relationship, while in the past, continues to influence and shape our future."

No matter what's going on, we're together.  And that's amazing.

19 comments:

  1. i'm so glad you both are together - enjoy it. love reading that you aren't taking it for granted. :)

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  2. Love everything about this post and I can so relate. Nick and I often talk about all the ways that our long distance relationship defined us as a couple and how it's changed us as people and how it's formed our marriage. To this day (5 years later) we still talk about all the things we will never take for granted after being apart for so long. I think, while often times excruciating in the moment, it creates stronger relationships in the end and I guess that's the sliver lining.

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  3. Betsy! What a beautiful post (your post from May just broke my heart!) - and thank you so much for linking to my post. I know that you can relate and I am so happy that you and Jon (I also have a John, as you know!) are finally together. I know how that feels. And it's wonderful. And you feel like, "WE deserve this." I love how you've described your years of long distance as a part of the "DNA" of your relationship. I totally agree.

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  4. I love this so much and I hope you guys hold onto that feeling! It reminds me of the feeling I had when I first came back from my first deployment, and I was just so happy to be back stateside that nothing bothered me. Someone gave me the wrong drink at Starbucks? Hakuna matata, I had Starbucks! It's the little things sometimes that remind us that life is damned good!

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  5. I think one of the hardest elements of being kept apart by law is that there is nothing you can do about it. If jobs are keeping you apart, it would be tough, but someone might be able to make a change. If you're kept apart by visa regulations there's nothing you can do about it. Like my lovely friend who you gave visa advise to. Still no word on her Welsh husband joining her Stateside.

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  6. Fredrik and I are beyond lucky that we were only apart for 1 1/2 months but there are so many times where I think our marriage is stronger for that simple fact that we are together in the same country. Meeting someone that you have to fight to be with is not something I think many of us expect to encounter but it really puts the relationship in a place of honor I think and I do feel lucky to have made it through.

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  7. Thanks, Courtney! to be totally honest, Jon's usually the one who will stop us mid-fight and be like REMEMBER WHEN WE COULDN'T ARGUE INTO EACH OTHER'S FACES? THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER! and then I'll laugh and we'll make up :)

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  8. im so glad you two are finally together in the same place :) xo jillian - cornflake dreams

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  9. YES! There really is a sense of "we fought for this" that I think makes us stronger. Thank you for reminding me of that with your post!

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  10. YES! So true. The frustrations become relative when compared to The Frustration.

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  11. So much this. There are definitely choices we could have made during the long distance that would have meant that we'd have seen each other more, but it would have taken a huge toll on us financially and professionally. You have to play the long game when waiting out visa stuff. I'm so sorry about your friend :(

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  12. Absolutely! I definitely don't think that relationships aren't as strong if you haven't had to fight (don't worry, I know that's not what you're saying!) but I do think that it adds a certain depth to a relationship that can't be manufactured elsewhere.

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  13. Oh absolutely! It's funny to think that even though you guys were in the same country and didn't have to deal with legal nonsense you were still separated by water like us :)

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  14. I'm on Day 3 of my long-distance marriage. It's not hard yet, mainly because I get to fly to Atlanta on Thursday. But when I return to Ohio next Monday, we'll be separated for two weeks. Logically I know that's nothing compared to our first year of dating, when we spent months apart at a time, but I've gotten spoiled by living with Dan for the 11 months or so! Long-distance was so much easier when it was all I'd ever known.

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  15. O no fight is the right word I think, I know all relationships are hard but these international ones do get an extra fight and adds depth beyond years I think.

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  16. Georgia ChristakisJanuary 28, 2015 at 8:40 PM

    It also seems so much rougher to be separated once you're already married, doesn't it? Congratulations, by the way!

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  17. Georgia ChristakisJanuary 28, 2015 at 8:41 PM

    Betsy, I needed to read this. As I wait with baited breath to find out my residency match results, that separation anxiety I felt when Peter lived in Greece comes flooding back. What if he can't find a job where I match? What if we're separated for another year? It's not ever going to be as bad as when he was overseas, of course, but that end goal of living together and being together is right in front of us, and yet just out of reach. So it's nice to remember that (a) we're not alone and (b) we're both safe. It's good to be reminded to count our blessings. So thank you (:

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  18. I've never been in a LD relationship, but I admire those who have. I'm so glad you are together now!

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