Deployment Lesson for COVID #6: Physically-distanced relationships

March 30, 2020

This one’s rough. It’s hard. There are no two ways about it. 

I’m grateful Jonathan and I are actually living together for this round of chaos, but that certainly hasn’t always been true. He left for a full year the week after our wedding, when we barely knew each other. We built our relationship over AOL IM and occasional phone conversations with 5-second delays. It was, ahem, not great. 

But what REALLY turned the tide for us was that second deployment. He left when Sophia was two months old; I didn’t work and had few reasons to ever leave the house. I felt stuck. When we talked, the only things we had to tell each other were about war and the baby – neither of which were healthy topics on which to focus the entirety of our conversations. 

So we started reading together. We’d choose a book to read simultaneously, and every Tuesday afternoon we set time aside for him to call and talk about what we’d read. Given the time apart, out of our usual routines, we took the opportunity to explore theological ideas we hadn’t before. It gave us a shared experience, when we couldn’t eat dinner together or go on a trip together. It gave us a focus and sparked fresh energy in ourselves and our relationship. 

(And of course, it was then that we read a book called People of the Chalice, our first real introduction to the Disciples of Christ. Our little Tuesday Afternoon Book Club changed our lives.)

Physically-distant relationships are also hard because you never know what is happening on the other side of the phone or screen when you call, what difficult situation you aren’t aware of. We always took time to “check in” at the beginning of the conversation, which has really helped us stay connected even when we ARE physically together. Abundant grace, for the other and yourself. 

Thankfully, technology gives physically-distant couples now lots of ways to have shared experiences – online games, Netflix, etc. How can you use this time to try something new together? 

Physically-distant relationships are HARD WORK… but with that work, we emerged much stronger on the other side. 

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