Last week my bearded beloved and partner in crime went away for a week on business – the longest we’ve been apart since we got married two years ago. Now, I know what you’re thinking; ‘Nia, a week apart does not a long-distance relationship make’, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
The night before he left I was… well, forlorn. I followed him around like a dog, rubbed his leg when we sat on the sofa watching telly (which I normally hate doing and moan profusely about), whimpered when he went off to pack his suitcase and even ditched my lovely, spotty Per Una dressing gown in favour of his brown one just because it smelt of him… I fawned like a damsel douchebag in distress until the moment he walked out the door and, let’s be honest, pretty much hightailed it to the taxi waiting at the curb.
Everyone says that marriage is a balancing act; two people on opposite sides of the scale, sharing a life, learning to compromise. But, then a day into our time apart something changed. I suddenly realised that the scales had tipped in my favour. I could be selfish again. I had our massive bed all to myself. I sprawled like a starfish – there was no need to worry about jabbing another body with my bony elbows or sharing the covers – and I slept better than I had in months. I became master of the remote; goodbye Sky Sports News hello Costume Drama marathon (I love a good bodice ripper)! I ate three whole bags of Cadburry Buttons, in bed, without sharing a single one. Dinner was easy, I only had to worry about the sounds of my own stomach.
I was in heaven. I was on a marriage holiday.
Until Friday afternoon. A joke appeared on my Twitter feed that I knew Beardo would enjoy. I was instantly undone. My idyllic solitude unravelled and I suddenly felt very alone. (The release of the Xmen Apocolypse trailer didn’t help either. Hubs and I are confirmed super-nerds)
I missed my best friend. I missed our silly moments together, the in-jokes and the smell of his beard. I missed his huge arms, the way he’d say “Oh babe” to make me feel better. I even missed the way he flung his socks across the room at the end of the day. It was hard to believe that we survived an entire year apart once upon a time.
Ten months after we got together, Sunny travelled to America to complete his year abroad as part of his degree while I stayed to finish mine. We decided not to break up, which definitely raised eyebrows. After all we were only twenty, we hadn’t been together that long.
It was tough to begin with. Drunken nights out were the worst; whenever one of our favourite songs played, I sobbed uncontrollably, and the mandatory chicken burger at the end of the night just didn’t taste the same. On our first anniversary I locked myself in my room. When one of my girlfriends got a new boyfriend I selfishly made her life miserable because they just reminded me of how much I missed Sunny. In the days before Facetime we had to make do with msn messenger, which helped, but due to the time difference we often missed each other.
But gradually, it got easier. When Sunny came home at Christmas for a couple of weeks we were inseparable and were surprised to find that nothing had changed between us. Despite the time apart, we still felt exactly the same way as we had when we’d said goodbye. Knowing we’d survived made us stronger and when Sunny packed his bags and flew away for another term abroad, saying goodbye wasn’t as hard as it had been before. When I went out on nights out and heard our song I stopped sobbing and smiled instead. Rolling home at 2am after a night out turned out to be the best time to catch Sunny online anyway. The time that we did get to spend together we guarded fiercely, we made sure we made the most of it, we went out and did things together. We made plans so we had a finish line in mind, something to look forward to when we felt down.
Over the next couple of years we went through periods of living together and then living apart, and even though it was difficult, we made it work. Believing that at some point we would be together for good was key to getting through the difficult times when we missed eachother like crazy.
Long-distance relationships are hard. Really hard. It’s true when people say that they can either make or break a relationship. But if you both want it to work, it will.