Long Distance Marriage – Can It Work?

In some circumstances, whether for school, work, helping family, or any number of reasons, married couples may have to spend significant amounts of time apart.

So, this raises a very important question: can long distance marriages work?

The answer is yes, they can – but it probably won’t be easy.

You can overcome the challenges in a long distance marriage.
You can overcome the challenges in a long distance marriage.

There are a few inherent problems with long distance relationships, but if you know what the common problems are going into it, and if you’re steadfast in your commitment to overcoming them, keeping your marriage strong over a great distance is certainly possible.

The largest problem, of course, comes with lack of physical contact. Even if couples speak to one another daily, there’s a component of physical affection that simply has to go missing when distance is a factor. Because we are biologically wired to build connection through physical contact, it can put a strain on the nonverbal, intangible link between you.

To overcome this problem, couples dealing with long distances marriages have to communicate regularly, and whenever possible, travel to see one another – even if it’s expensive or inconvenient, very few things can replace the power of physical touch.

With modern technology like Skype, Facetime, or other video chatting software, couples can at least see each other when they’re apart. If you’re in a long distance relationship, do everything you can to keep that connection alive. Communication is key.

In a similar vein, one of the other biggest challenges for long distance marriages is the risk of emotional affairs. Because people tend to compensate and reach out to others when their emotional needs are unmet, and because distance makes it hard to know where your partner’s emotional satisfaction lies, it’s easy to drift into connections with other people without even noticing.

This is another reason that communication (and total honesty) is so important when keeping a marriage intact over distance. If you don’t know where your partner’s emotional needs are, you won’t be able to meet them – the same goes for them your partner meeting your needs.

Long distance is tough, and frankly, not recommended for anything more than temporary stretches of time. Sometimes it’s unavoidable though, and if this happens to your marriage, just remember how integral communication is to your success – and your happiness.

Talk to one another every day. Share pictures, use video chat, and make sure you’re being totally honest about your concerns, your emotional needs, and what’s going on in your separate lives.

Long distance marriages can work, but only if both people are putting the marriage at the absolute forefront of their minds, and putting in the effort to keep the connection strong.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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4 comments

Lisa 8 years ago

It is ironic that after 21 years together, and my husband serving in the Navy for 16 years prior to finding a civilian job for the last 5 years of our marriage, we managed to maintain a good marriage even though he would serve 6 - 8 months of each year away on the ship. We would write each other (before emails) and then email each other daily with phone calls when he was in port. When he would finally arrive home, those few months we had each year to spend together were precious to us and a chance to physically and emotionally reconnect and rebond with each other. It is so ironic that his civilian job which involved 12 hours shifts (2 days day shift, 2 nights of night shift) followed by 4 days off, were part of what destroyed our marriage. He had the gall to blame me for not spending time with him on his days off. The Counsellor asked me why, did I have my own interests and why did I not spend time with him. I told her that "my husband would be referring to the fact that most of his days off I would be at work due to the nature of his shift work". She then asked what about when you both had weekends off. I said "he would make other plans to always be helping our neighbour out on his farm - repairing things for him or helping him put fencing in, always". Even when I tried to "book" him to do things with him, he already had plans. The Counsellor asked him if it was true. He said "yes cause I didn't want to spend any time with her!". My husband couldn't handle a recurring illness I had been suffering from for the previous two years. Like he couldn't handle when several lumps were found in my breast and I was urgently called to go in and get biopsies done. He did not want to drive me there saying I didn't need him there and he was busy at work (he just didn't want to go). In the end he did because there was a chance I had to be sedated and someone had to go with me. One reason he told me the marriage failed among so many other irrational statements and reasons was that "I didn't sign up for you getting sick when I married you! My life and my marriage has not turned out the way I expected it to. I don't want to be responsible for you and now you are sick with something possibly serious, I don't want to get stuck with looking after you. I want a different life. I want an exciting life. I want my own family, my own children even though I know I can never have my own biological children, I still want them. I want my life to be different." My husbad truly lost the plot and we lost our marriage. Now, after 2 years separated I have peace back in my life, my health has improved. And I know I am better off without him in my life. As for him - his exciting life now consists of going to bars on his days off and drinking until he is comatose. Where's the excitement in that? To each his own I guess.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi, Lisa - I'm so sorry that your marriage turned out this way, and you bring up a good point. Reconciling your lives after such a long periods apart can be the hardest part of all. I hope you find someone new and you can stay connected https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/10-ways-reconnect-magic-alive-year/

Francine 8 years ago

my husband is so stubborn and he has so many issues that i am sick of ignoring.. i want to split but feel i cant because of my kids. i feel that i am independant and dont need to be with someone but my kids love my husband although he spends little time with them, doesnt play and has little in common. My 9 yr old is his biological son and he has similar behaviours and thinks the world of his dad. We have a big mortgage and the house we live in is perfect for our kids. I dont want to leave the house as i dont want to unsettle them. My marriage is not good, were not intimate and we rarely talk, if we do its because i have forced myself to make the effort in a struggle to make things work.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi, Francine - I'm so sorry that things are rough right now. I hope you can talk to your husband and start to set some small goals together to help improve things, for you and your children. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/set-goals-improve-marriage/