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22 Things couples in commuter marriages know

No, maybe a commuter marriage isn’t always a welcomed option. But, sometimes, you’ve got to make the best of your situation. For whatever reason, a marriage may have to go long distance — and despite their bad rap — commuter marriages can work.

It is important to recognize, first, that a long-distance marriage or relationship will not have the same mechanics of a typical sleep-side-by-side one. Dr. Tina Tessina — a California-based psychotherapist and author of several books, including The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You’re Far Apart — explains to Huffington Post, “Spouses left at home have to deal with all the household problems: plumbing that doesn’t work, financial decisions to make, all the child rearing and discipline and all the chores usually shared by two. Spouses not at home are lonely, isolated and feeling out of touch with your family.”

Technology, communication and honesty are key to surviving the long-distance chapter of your relationship. And Dr. Tessina doesn’t forget to add, “I’m also a big advocate for phone sex for long-distance relationships.”

Here’s more firsthand insight on what some couples know about commuter marriages.

1. “You appreciate the other person more….”Arlene Van Parys, 46, who lived in Oak View, California, while her husband lived in Cathedral City

2. “I could work stupid hours, and did.”Lisa Cullen, a writer for TIME magazine, who lived in Tokyo while her husband stayed in New Jersey

3. “I felt good about having my own personal space….”Laura Stafford, author of Maintaining Long-Distance and Cross-Residence Relationships

4. “People think that we’re weird.”David Knox, 61, who lived in Minnesota while his wife lived in California

5. “Twenty-three years later our relationship is still working because we love and trust each other implicitly.”Gil, who married his wife from Indiana while he lived in North Carolina for two years

6. “I eat barbecue and I get to listen to Steely Dan.”Jason Isbell, singer-songwriter, who lives apart from his wife while on tour across the U.S.

7. “We bought a place in Florida, and that’s where we’re headed [once we retire together].”Ruth McMullen, relocated and moved away from her husband because of a company merger

8. “Everyone tells me this will never work out.” — Julie, a Navy diver (from Dr. Gregory Guldner’s book Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide)

9. “If you feel fulfilled in your career, I think your relationship is stronger. I am really fortunate. […] You need to be independent and have a true sense of trust in your partner.” — Charly Rok, 46, vice president of public relations for David’s Bridal

10. “I’m a big subscriber of ‘happy wife, happy life.’ […] You have to go where the opportunities are, and it’s not always in your backyard.”Jason Rok, 47, married to Charly (above) for over 13 years

11. “A lot of the relationship gets packed into the weekend.”Ellen Berman, family psychiatrist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania

12. “It’s a day-by-day, month-by-month process…. It’s changed how we interact with the rest of the world. Our time is so limited. I’m not going to go out with friends on a Friday night when Lilliana’s home.”Patrick McGrath, 33, who lives in Philadelphia while his wife, an on-air personality for NBC’s New York Live, commutes to New York

13. “Texting has become key.”Jill Carlen, a spa director for Ritz-Carlton Toronto, while her husband stays in New York

14. “My husband and I never had a good phone call between 5 P.M. and 7 P.M.” — Jacey Eckhart, who lived in Herndon, Virginia, while her husband (a naval officer) lived three hours away in Norfolk

15. “I had to reinvent myself and try things I enjoy doing that Humberto does not… going out with friends, exercising or volunteering.”Patricia Guerra, a resident of Philadelphia while her husband works in Puerto Rico

16. “I learned how to do a lot of [handy work] for myself.”Jenn Wall, who now lives with her husband in North Dakota, but formerly taught in Utah for two years away from her husband

17. “We are a family and that comes first. […] If we were not committed, we would not be married.”Talia Jensen, a flight attendant, mother of two and whose husband is a pilot

18. “People say to me, ‘My husband was away for two weeks. How do you manage for seven months?'” — Allison Buckholtz, mother of two and married to a military pilot

19. “Some of my friends didn’t believe he existed.” — Christy Howard, a school psychologist in Dayton, Ohio

20. “You need to have a lot of patience […]. I don’t think anyone gets married with the intentions of not living together.”Michael Webber, who lived in Michigan while his wife worked at an internship for her MBA in Wisconsin

21. “For three years [Michael] was in Florida while I was in Texas. Planning when we would see each other was really important, because it would give me something to look forward to. Although my favorite trip was when he surprised me to propose. (I said yes!)” — Cat Snapp, a visual artist who now lives (married) in Seattle with Michael

22. “You’ve got to be fully invested, all in with no doubts, or it will never work. Since I was not a great communicator over the phone, seeing each other at least once a month is what got us through the tough times.” — Michael Lavoie, a contracts negotiator at Lockheed Martin, who has been married to Cat (above) for four years this August (Congrats!)

More on relationships

The one major thing saving my long-distance relationship
8 Ways to have sex in a long-distance relationship
7 Things that make you more likely to get a divorce

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