Year One: Going the Distance
A good job, career advancement, or military deployment can force a couple to live apart as husband and wife. How three pairs are coping—and what to do if it happens to you.
For most newly married couples, life involves the three S's: sleep (wedding-planning takes its toll), sex (it's hotter), and settling into a routine (in a good way!). But for a growing number of newlyweds, there's a fourth S to deal with: separation.
The reason? Take your pick—the job-starved economy, which forces people to go wherever they can get work; military obligations; or the graduate-degree or career-path chase.
Since their wedding last year, Sara, 30, a New York fashion executive, has seen her husband, Mike, 30, a doctor, every four to five weeks. "He missed placing into a Manhattan-based residency program, so when an unpaid research position in San Antonio, Texas, came up, he took it to keep his career on track," she says. "I stayed in New York to support us."
For military couples, being apart is usually a given. Lisa, 35, is married to Jim, 36, a submarine officer stationed in Washington, D.C. "We knew that his job would involve a lot of moving," she explains. "But since I'm studying for a master's degree in Brooklyn, I couldn't just pick up and go." Lisa says that she and her husband support each other 100 percent, "but still, the situation can be a strain."
Some newlyweds only spend long weekends together, like Los Angeles natives Daisy, 29, a photo editor, and her husband, Angel, 33, who travels Monday through Thursday for his sales job. "We feel lucky he's working, considering the hit his industry took," she says. "Still, it's not the ideal way to begin a marriage. We won't have kids until we're living with each other twenty-four-seven."
Luckily for one of our couples, a reunion date is in sight: Mike got into a paid residency program, so Sara's moving south to Texas this summer—but living in the same place will come with a price. "I have to rethink my profession," she admits. "But at least we'll be together."
If you'll be joining the ranks of frequent-flier newlyweds, don't despair. Relationship guru Gilda Carle, PH.D., offers these tips on staying close when you're far away from you hub:
Keep in touch daily. Talk, text, FaceTime (whatever!), to stay on top of each other's days.
Plan weekend rendezvous. Save up so you can meet halfway for a couple of days every few weeks or so. Treat these trips like second (or third...or seventh...) honeymoons.
Mail mini presents. "It sounds hokey, but holding an actual gift or memento from a loved one helps you feel closer," says Carle.
Have Skype sex. "Celebrate your lust for each other," advocates Carle. Even if you're not in the same room.
Rely on your gal pals. They'll distract you with happy-hour cocktails. (No griping allowed!)