Excitedly inquiring someone how their significant other is when they’ve totally broken up with them and currently hate their guts.
Happened to me. More times than I care to admit.
In a society where people change their partners like they change their socks, it’s not every day you meet someone who’s been dating the same person for more than a year, let alone do it over long distance.
This past Friday ( September 4th, 2015), Elynn and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary. It is exceptionally special since we have endured most of it being miles apart.
So, we’re like… unicorns in that respect. Rare and stuff.
Here are 4 things that has kept us from killing each other during these past 4 years:
Someone once shared the following statement with me:
“It’s not the love that keeps the commitment; it’s the commitment that keeps the love.”
This sentiment couldn’t be truer in our relationship. Since we were physically apart for most of our relationship, we had to rely more on the commitment we had for each other rather than on the love we showed each other.
We also saw commitment as a muscle that needed to be exercised through love when we were in the same place. The more intentionally we loved each other when we were together, the stronger our commitment was when we were apart.
I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that there were times, many times, where this commitment was tested either through internal struggles or external circumstances. A quick glance at the conflicts we’ve had in the past, however, reminded us of one thing:
Our conflicts were the flames in which our commitment was forged.
“Yea right. That’s cute and all, but conflicts wrecked our relationship, bro.”
I would agree with you. And I would want you to read till the end of the post. Because without #4, the above sentence is mush.
If our relationship was a body, communication might as well be oxygen.
Maintaining consistent communication was and still is a priority in our relationship. The times where we failed to communicate were inarguably some of the hardest times for us. Prioritizing communication early on taught us a few things:
- How we say it is as important as what we say. Approach is as important as content.
- Don’t take it personally unless specified.
- Affirmation is currency. The more you have, the more you can give and the better you feel.
- Listening is everything.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Consistent, effective, and honest communication was, and still continues to be, a life line to us.
Our long distance relationship amplified both strengths as well as weaknesses. We celebrated our wins, but we also over-analyzed our shortcomings at times. The strain caused by this sensitized us to each other’s proclivities to extents where we were frustrated with each other.
We realized early on that we had to assume the best of each other especially when things looked bleak. Jumping into conclusions is far easier than struggling to understand, but we realized that the quicker we learnt that, the easier it became for both of us in the long run.
How did this look like in our relationship?
When she didn’t text me for hours on end, I had to recognize that it’s not because she didn’t value me, but because she probably couldn’t text.
She had to realize that my lack of affirmation after a heated conversation didn’t come from a place of malice but of mere mindlessness.
And I can go on. The point is that we had to consider the best interest of the other to maintain a healthy relationship.
Glad you read up till this point. Or maybe you cheated and just jumped to #4 from #1.
At any rate, here’s that sentence I used earlier:
“our conflicts were the flames in which our commitment was forged.”
The flames are necessary for the forging. But if the forgery is left without a forger – one who is responsible for the forging – the flames can be counter-productive, and, in many cases, even dangerous.
The Forger in our relationship was also a carpenter at one point. He knows what type of treatment removes debris and purifies the substance at the same time. He knows where we are the weakest and where we thrive. He knows our end from the beginning and has been shaping us to be His masterpiece on display.
Without Him, all the forging would have melted us by now. We are glad that is not the case.
Reciprocal commitment, consistent communication, careful consideration and Christ has kept us going for 4 years.
Looking forward to 400 more. 🙂