The rain is falling so hard as I type this that it looks like a single sheet of water and I witness a man trying to extricate his recycling bin from a tree in the 80mph wind. I laugh. I can usually see the imposing Norman towers of Exeter Cathedral from my bedroom window but today they are draped in a drab camouflage of grey that renders them invisible. Despite this I know that even though they are no longer visible, they are still faithfully dissecting the city skyline as they have been for over 900 years. This is the same way that I feel about long distance relationships, I can’t see my wife but I know that she is there and I know that the clouds will lift and I will be able to see her again. We currently live 3153 miles apart and we are only seeing each other once every 2-3 months due to the cost of flights and primarily our limited amount of vacation time. Due to delays at the US Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) we have been waiting over 8 months already for my Visa so I can emigrate to the US (more info about that here http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/us/program-benefiting-some-immigrants-extends-visa-wait-for-others.html?referrer ).
A week together at the moment involves handing over large amounts of sterling or dollars and a seven hour flight usually sat in the aisle seat next to someone who has put the whole of Belgium into their carry on and despises you for requiring a small part of the overhead locker for your modest backpack. I digress here and will leave the joys of modern flight to a future blog entry (fat man in seat 32C on flight BA212 you have been warned)! When you are in a Transatlantic relationship time together usually involves a large amount of time on Skype and little else. We manage to set aside date nights several times a week and ignore the rest of the world to spend some much needed time together. We are also able to text regularly via Whatsapp. Despite all this there is little better than receiving a handwritten letter in the post for having a physical reminder of your partner. I’ve found that since I started dating my wife that as someone in a long distance relationship you cherish all of the time that you get together and that you never take each other for granted. This is one of the few advantages of the long distance relationship.
I find it irritating how some people try and belittle long distance relationships when they don’t understand them. I don’t want to be apart from my wife, I just have no other option at present. I have a friend who makes jokes about “Skype Sex” regularly. This is a single man for whom sex consists of masturbation aided by the internet and a pack of cheap tissues. I haven’t watched him pleasure himself by the way, I’m just extrapolating. My wife and I find that texting each other pictures and voice clips during the day makes it feel like we are there for each other. We’ve also joined a site called Visa Journey and there are many people in similar situations and a lot of mutual support and empathy going on. My advice to anyone who falls for someone in another country would be to think of what you get at the end, rather than the pain of the long distance stage. As anyone in a similar situation will know, long distance relationships are hard but if you are right for each other then you will make it work. Trust, love and mutual support can overcome anything, even the slowness of the US immigration system!
If you have been in a long distance relationship I’d love it if you could share any tips that made it easier for you.