My husband and I are currently in the midst of a season of work-inflicted separation. His professional travel will keep him away from home for about five months, though we will be able to communicate and visit each other periodically during that time.
These circumstances, though frequent, are never ideal. And they are certainly not easy. The distance and separation have challenged our methods and means of communication and have stretched our hearts’ capacity to desire union with one another.
Communication is key in any relationship. Honest dialogue serves as a building block to any kind of intimacy: spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative, or emotional. Though if you and someone you love are in a long-distance relationship, effective communication is the primary building block to maintaining and building a foundation of trust, honesty, intimacy, and unity.
Successful communication requires honest reflection, both of the circumstances and of your heart’s desire. If you and your partner—whether in a dating, engaged, or married relationship—are in a season of separation, I encourage you to be intentional about planning your communication in a proactive way.
The logistics of current circumstances must be taken into account. First, determining the best time of day to communicate is vital; considerations for conflicting schedules or time changes are significant variables. Second, discuss the best method for communication: an online messaging provider (such as Facebook messenger), text messages, phone calls, or emails each offer various benefits and obstacles. Each method can be an intentional means to a specific, desired end.
For example, for a quick check in, online messengers are simple and efficient. Oftentimes, the response rate is rapid. In contrast, an email platform offers greater length and depth for sharing, though the wait time between responses is generally slower.
Beyond the logistics of the situation, both parties must be honest about their personal needs for communication over time and distance.
In many ways, men and women differ in their need for communication. Where women generally engage in conversation as a means to build emotional intimacy, men often engage in conversation to accomplish a productive end. Being realistic about your partner’s predisposition to communication will create an environment for trust, collaboration and fruitful compromise.
Differences in communication are also specific to each individual’s mind and heart. In order for both individuals to be satisfied, each must introspectively recognize their needs, then clearly admit what they desire.
For example, my husband is content with a brief message to check-in, confirm we are alive, and to catch up on the generic happenings of the day. Meanwhile, I desire a thorough email thread to share the intimate thoughts and reactions of what happened over the previous days.
Neither of our preferences are inherently “good” or “bad,” but they are drastically different. Sharing a dialogue about how we are willing and able to compromise has enhanced our long-distance communication with greater understanding, peace, and intimacy—though our journey to creating long-distance intimacy is ongoing.
In authentic, loving relationships, both individuals are called to surrender some of their own desires for the fulfillment of the other’s needs. This kind of daily dying-to-self for the good of another has the potential to eliminate frustration or fear and enhance intimacy and love in a relationship. What are your needs for communication in relationship? If they differ from your partner, where are you willing to collaborate to achieve a greater good?
Have you ever experienced challenges or success in building intimacy through communication in a long-distance relationship? Please share your experiences, advice, and questions with our Spoken Bride community on Facebook or Instagram.