John and I spent the first two years of our relationship long distance. First, he was in Virginia Beach and I was in Baltimore. Then, I was in Baltimore and he was in… Afghanistan. That was really long distance.
The truth is, long distance is both a blessing and a curse. (And if you’ve ever been in an LDR, you know how very true that is.) There are so many wonderful things about being in a long distance relationship– the hellos, the anticipation, the excitement of everything you do together. But there are some truly awful things about it too— saying goodbye, knowing that your time together is limited, and waiting, waiting, waiting. (Again, if you’ve ever been in an LDR, you also know how very true that is.)
One of the things I truly enjoyed while John and I were long distance was having the chance to surprise him with fun gifts. Whether it was in care packages while he deployed or our truly obsessive but fun monthly anniversary celebration the first year we were dating, gift-giving was something that could transcend distance.
When John and I were dating, I would send him a goofy cartoon of a little crab– the idea was that it swam up and down the Chesapeake Bay, back and forth between Baltimore and Virginia Beach (which is where we each lived). It was also because my artistic skills are pretty limited and I can’t really draw too much! When we were dating, John gave me a crab necklace; it broke and the charm disappeared a month before he deployed… later he sent me the same necklace again.
Choosing a meaningful piece of jewelry that you each wear– or one of you wears– can be something that you both enjoy and makes you feel closer. This “Miss Your Face” matching necklace and keychain set is fun and can be personalized to match where both of you are. Or these simple beaded couples bracelets can also be a nice touch. If your spouse can’t wear jewelry, that’s okay; it’s just nice being able to have a touchstone.
If you love spending mornings together with coffee or tea and a crossword, these “Miss You” coffee mugs can be personalized to match where you each live… so you’ll each get the chance to have coffee with each other, even if you’re not actually having coffee with each other.
Letters and notes were one of my favorite ways to stay connected with John when were were apart. So many times people say to me, “Oh, well, you are an English major, so it comes easy to you.” But the truth of the matter is, you don’t have to write beautiful or long letters and notes for it to be memorable and meaningful. And the lovely thing about written encouragement is that these gifts aren’t very expensive at all.
If you need letter prompts, you might find a book like this one useful. It gives you ideas for writing and keeps all of your notes in one place, that way you can gift it as a completed notebook.
Or, you can create Open When letters– notes meant for your loved one to open at particular days or moments in their life. I’ve got tons of ideas for you so you don’t have to come up with them– here are 102 ones, and here are 55 more–as well as a bundle that you can print out to make your letters gorgeous and fun!
When we were dating, John and I swapped our five favorite books and read them. (I still haven’t read half of the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin… relationship fail!) Books are a wonderful way to span the miles– especially if you’re reading the same ones. Spend some time chatting about it and it can be a shared experience and fantastic way to learn about each other.
I’ve previously written about books that are great for LDRs, so there’s a ton in this list. If you’re in a military relationship, this is another list of books that are excellent.
And if you’re looking for a way to strengthen your relationship, this book gives you all of the discussion starters you could ever want to jumpstart some of those boring moments on the phone!