A lot of people don’t understand long distance relationships. Why would someone ever choose to be in a relationship with someone they rarely get to see? Why spend hundreds of dollars on plane tickets when you could just find somebody else nearby? How do they do it? Why do they do it?
What I think a lot of people don’t realize is that they’re asking me how I love someone. I don’t do anything other than faithfully remain in a relationship with someone I love. There are a lot more challenges in this type of relationship than typical relationships, and I do recognize that. It’s almost impossible to plan things around the Marine Corps, and it does get old having FaceTime as the only face-to-face communication for months at a time. It gets expensive buying plane tickets and sending care packages. But if I were to divide that out by the number of dinner dates the average couple gets to go on, it’s probably not much different. If I got to see, talk to, hug, and kiss Alex every day, I would cherish every second of it. I would. But I don’t get to do those things, so I try to cherish every second we’re apart, because I really have no other choice. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I get angry. There is no making up for missed anniversaries, missed holidays, and missed 3am runs to Walmart. But this is only temporary, and I genuinely believe that being divided by distance has brought us closer together as a couple.
If I wasn’t absolutely positive that Alex is the man I’m going to marry, the person that knows every part of my soul – the good, the not-so-good, and the downright ugly, the person that will forgive me when I don’t deserve it, the person that will hang on, even when the water gets rough, I would not put myself through the heartache. But as I’m reminded too frequently, every cliche about life being too short is true. I have one life to live, it could end at any time, and I don’t want to wake up one day feeling regretful and alone.
People will talk about and judge literally anything in the world. I don’t expect everyone to understand my relationship, my feelings, and how I could possibly love someone that I saw for a total of 40 out of 365 days last year alone. But when someone asks me, “What kind of relationship could you have?” my feelings do get hurt. I don’t need anyone’s validation to feel secure in my relationship. But it does occasionally bruise me when someone suggests that I can’t have a healthy, happy, intimate relationship simply because I can’t be there in person 24/7. I write letters. I send texts. I spend hours on the phone. I FaceTime. I fly to North Carolina when I can. I have a relationship that is strong because we have vowed to face our problems as a team. I have a relationship that is unbroken because we have promised to be loyal and honest. I have a relationship that is fulfilling because we give and receive love equally. I have a relationship that is healthy because we make the most of the communication when we can. I have a relationship that is fun because we’re best friends. I have a relationship that is merciful because we forgive each other. Quite frankly, I have a relationship that rocks. Is it perfect? No. Do I really care that it isn’t perfect? No. Because I’m pretty sure that only exists in Nicholas Sparks books and D-list romance movies.
So really, the point is, I can have a relationship just like everybody else. And I can be happy, and loved, and fulfilled, and thankful no matter the circumstances.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller