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How to Nurture Intimacy When Youre in a Long-Distance Marriage


The biggest problem long-distance spouses often face is how to keep emotional intimacy alive when they are separated. If you are in a long-distance marriage, you are probably already using email and the telephone as much as possible to stay in touch. But what else can you do to stay connected with your partner and not lose that special bond between you?

One suggestion is to take the extra time to also send "snail mail" greeting cards, letters, and postcards when possible. Buy an assortment of cards when you have a chance, and that will make it easier to send out one or two cards each week. Vary the type of cards that you send--some romantic, some funny. You could also send postcards to add variety and show scenes of the geographic area where you are working.

In your letters and emails, don't only talk about what activities you've been involved in, but be sure to share your feelings about what's going on in your life. Ask feeling-related questions, such as "Do you ever worry that one day we'll have been married 20 years and we'll discover that we don't really know each other?" Also share memories and experiences from childhood and the years before you met.

Write your spouse a letter telling her (or him)what you love about her,what attracted you to her, what you admire about her, and why you want to stay married to her. Before you send it to her, make a copy for yourself and read it once a day to remind yourself of all the positives about your spouse. Ask her to do the same for you.

Look for ways to create reminders that will trigger thoughts of each other when you're apart. For example, you might consider naming a star for your spouse at the International Star Registry (www.starregistry.com). Then, each starry night, you will both feel connected as you look for "your star."

You might come up with some other symbols to trigger your thoughts, such as agreeing to think of each other every time you see a certain type of bird. Or pick a car with special meaning and think of each other every time you see a red Camaro, for example. Perhaps you will both agree to listen to a certain song on a CD before you go to sleep each night, knowing the other person is doing the same thing.

Brainstorm about ways you can feel connected even when you're not talking on the phone or emailing each other. Mail your husband (or wife) a tape of yourself reading a love poem or sweet letter you have written to him. Send small surprise gifts when you can. They don't have to be expensive; they just need to show that you're thinking of him.

You could order gifts of gourmet candy, nuts, popcorn, flowers, or other items from the Internet. Or you could give a magazine subscription to your spouse so she (or he) will think of you each time the publication arrives. Another idea is to send her a new CD that you think she'll like or a paperback book.

Consider creating your own web site where you can post photos you both take with a digital camera. The pictures could show scenes from your life apart and also pictures from the times you are together. Over time, this would document your history as well as your current life as a couple. One site that provides free web hosting for family web sites is www.myfamily.com.

Other ideas include having a print shop like Kinko's put a photograph of you and your spouse on coffee mugs, or having a photograph put on a T-shirt or sweatshirt for each of you. If you have some common interests in reading or listening to audio books, pick a book to read or listen to at the same time and then discuss it as you go along.

Put on your creative thinking cap and experiment to see what works best for the two of you. By using your imagination, you can deepen your emotional connection with your spouse, even though you're physically separated by thousands of miles.

Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!" The e-book is available at http://www.KeepYourMarriage.com , where you can also sign up for the free Keep Your Marriage Internet Magazine. Contact Nancy at Nancy@KeepYourMarriage.com.


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