Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Time to send the change of address cards, we are no longer in a long distance marriage. Hooray !

it's time to send my new address cards
It is now 8 weeks since we upped sticks and moved far far away from our lovely friends and lovely home, uprooted the children from their lovely schools and embarked on an adventure all together. It was a risk, it was a wrench, but it has paid off and I am very very relieved. So now I really MUST get on and send our change of address cards and it feels  like the perfect day to do it.
People move all the time they relocate for work, they emigrate for a better quality of life, they return to their roots to have the support of family nearby. We moved because quite frankly there was no way I could survive another year with my husband working away. Life was starting to feel like a bit of a slog. Sleep deprivation was taking its toll (my toddler is not a brilliant sleeper). I was really missing having my husband at home, his company, his help and the reassurance of another adult sharing the responsibility of day to day family life.
 Many families will understand the trials and tribulations that come when there are hundreds of miles between you and your partner, the dread of the Sunday goodbyes, the anticipation of the Friday homecoming and the immense pressure on the weekends to be perfect. Of course all of this is multiplied for those with longer periods of separation, and compounded even further for those who have to manage the additional stresses of having a partner working away where regular contact is not possible or the work is dangerous. I have the utmost admiration for those who weather such immense challenges to their family life and relationships.
For me at times it felt as though my husband was a weekend visitor, sometimes his overnight bag would never even make it out of the hall. Whilst I would love him coming home every Friday there would always be an adjustment period for us and by Saturday afternoon when we'd feel relaxed and a like family again, thoughts of Sunday would creep into my mind and I would start to dread the prospect of goodbye.
But happy days, we are together all week now, most mornings we manage breakfast together thanks to the fact that both the boys are reliably early risers and I have someone to cuddle up with on the sofa of an evening....if I wanted too. As yet we still only seem to be able to do that on a Saturday night (old habits die hard, our evenings are pretty hectic and we are both very used to our own space). It was a risk worth taking though, we survived many years living mostly apart and we love being together again at last.
 The children are enjoying their new school and are making friends, in fact they have already asked whether we might be able to stay here forever and I am making friends too, much sooner than I'd hoped. Although I miss my old friends I actually think it's much harder for the ones that stay. My brother in law and his wife and children moved to Australia last year and I felt utterly terrible for a while afterwards, they had left such a big hole in our lives. But Skype really is the most amazing invention, we can see them grow up from thousands of miles away. It was absolutely the right decision for their family too allowing a better lifestyle for their children and more time for them to be together as a family. 
It is very possible that at some time in the future work will dictate that we will need to live apart again. Of course if that time comes we will decide what is best for our family but for now we will treasure family life together and be thankful that our relationship survived the long distances for so many years. 

 Tips for Sharing Family life over Long Distances

  •  Call, email, Skype or text as much as possible. Keeping up to date with all the little day to day news is really important. Even if you can't speak daily, write a letter or send an email and include photos too, especially of children.
  •  Make each other feel special, cards, homemade Cd's, a message on a post it attached to a chocolate bar in the fridge (my favourite), flowers when it's been a tough week all make a big difference. Knowing that the other person is thinking of you even when you're apartand this works both ways.
  •  Plan ahead and make sure there are things in the calendar to look forward to. We found that having short term and long term plans make the separation feel manageable.
  • Keep busy; accept offers of help and offers of company. It can be hard not to wallow in self-pity but don't just say 'I'm fine', get to know your neighbours (most of mine were so kind) and invite friends over in the evenings (it really breaks the week up).
  •  Have lots of photos, my husband had photos of us on his desk and in his room and we had lots around the house. The baby would kiss a photo of his Daddy every night.
  • Don't forget important dates. Birthday's and anniversary's can be tough days when you're apart. Skyping during birthday tea was great for the children.
  • Wherever possible visit the work place and accomodation of the person working away. It makes it easier to  talk about daily life when you can picture where your partner is and you've met colleagues and friends there. It makes it easier for them too, having happy memories of your visits there. if that's not possible share plenty of photos.
  • Try and be positive, it can be tempting to just have a  good moan at the end of every day. Think of three good things that have happened in the day to talk about. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ever share the negatives though, but it can make your partner feel helpless and guilty if that's all you talk about.
  • Try not to have BIG discussions or arguments or make important decisions over the phone or by email, if possible these should be done face to face.
  • Trust each other and remember to share time as a couple as well as a family.
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