As many of you may know, my fiance Fatima and I have been in a #longdistancerelationship (about 1200 miles apart) for almost 3 years now. While we are excited to finally be moving in together in about 2 months, this experience of #distance, #travel, #commitment, and #growth has certainly been a huge gift in our relationship. There have been many challenges in the last 3 years and several instances where we weren't sure if we would be able to make it work, but overcoming each of these challenges and consistently demonstrating our commitment to each other has built a powerful foundation in our relationship that promises a bright future together.
As I said, it hasn't always been easy, as anyone who has successfully had a long-distance relationship, or even attempted it, will tell you. There are some agreements we made and kept consistently over the years that we believe directly contributed to our creating Our Life together. As this chapter of our story comes to close, we thought it fitting to share what we've learned with anyone who is currently in or considering being in a long-distance relationship. It can be amazing, and it most certainly CAN work, with the right tools.
So here are the 4 Secrets that had our relationship thrive (even with 1200 miles between us):
1. Make the relationship a priority.
Obviously, this is essential to any relationship. However, with long-distance, it takes a bit more attention and effort than it normally might for two people who live close to each other, geographically speaking. When it's a relatively short drive to meet for dinner or to get together to see each other, it's really a no-brainer. When the distance is greater, there might be a few more challenges involved in making plans.
I'll share how it looked for us. In the beginning it was somewhat easy as she had travel planned to South Florida for some work she was doing, so we were able to connect a handful of times with considerably little effort. While that was enough to establish a connection, once her work there was over, we had to decide if we were up for the challenge of figuring out how we might bridge the distance.
At the time I was coaching clients, but only part time. My full-time job was running a construction company which made up about 75% of my income. I was very hands-on in my business and personally ran all the jobs. I remember discussing with her early on that to have this relationship work with both of us living so far apart, I would need to completely redesign my life. Over the next year I focused intensely on building my coaching practice and speaking career, while planning trips to see her and spend time with her in New Jersey.
It was clear that we would travel to see each other at regular intervals, but physical time away from my work meant that I would be making significantly less income, as I wouldn't be able to do any work for my construction projects. I would sometimes have to let jobs sit incomplete while I was out of town and even turn some down when I couldn't arrange agreements to accommodate my travel plans.
Despite the challenges, this relationship was important to me and I knew I'd find a way to make it work.
I lost a lot of potential income during that first year, but some exciting things also developed. I began to pick up more clients in my coaching practice and my speaking business took off in a huge way. Over the next couple of years, I would close the construction company entirely and more than triple my income in my coaching and speaking business.
This shift happened in large part because of my commitment to the relationship. I didn't know things would unfold this way. I did it one plane ticket at a time, one trip at a time.
The more I made the relationship a priority, the more I created the conditions in my life in which it could thrive. I created a career in which I could work from anywhere, and it's something I love much more than what I was doing before. When I look back, if I had made my need for security more important than having our relationship work, not only would I have lost the relationship, but I would have missed out on creating so much of what I love about my life now.
I simply made the relationship my first priority and trusted that I would find a way to have everything else work out.
Things were very similar on her end. In addition to coaching a few clients, she owns a large business that she is still very involved in. At the time we began dating, she was working over 40 hours a week, very hands-on, with little extra time to dedicate to growing her coaching practice and her passion for writing.
A commitment that she made early on in the relationship was that she would spend about 10 days per month in Florida with me. Like me at the time, she had a heavy work load and her physical presence was required almost every day. 10 days per month out of the office seemed impossible.
She booked a ticket for her first 10 day trip and found a way to make it happen. After that she booked a second and then a third trip. Over the years, she's made agreements with her co-owners, hired new employees, figured out how to redistribute the work load, and created new systems that allow her to work remotely some of the time.
The most important thing we did for our relationship early on was to make it a priority. Once we were clear about that, we then set about recreating our lives and circumstances to allow for it to work.
2. Always plan the next trip.
For the last 3 years, we have always had our next trip planned, booked, and on the calendar during or before the current one.