“distance means so little, when someone means so much”
This past weekend my husband and I took a little road trip up to West Point for a good old army football game. That was the first time that either of us had been back since my husband’s graduation from the United States Military Academy this past May, and I was instantly overcome with memories from the past four years. I remembered everything from my first visit to the campus to the joy of his graduation, but mostly I remembered the serious love-hate relationship I had with that place.
I love West Point for its beauty, for its history, and for the way that it transforms young men and women into such amazing officers of the army. I love the person that my husband became because of his education at West Point. But I also spent a long time resenting that fortress on the Hudson because, for four years, it took my boyfriend, and later my fiancé, thousands of miles away from me.
My husband and I endured four years of long distance and, while it certainly did not seem like it at the time, now believe that it was one of our relationship’s greatest blessings.
Long distance relationships are extremely difficult and can put a lot of strain on couples. It is impossible to describe how hard it is to go months without holding each others hands, to experience life events without the other there to witness them, or even to be deprived of the small joy of watching TV together.
But, I also know that long distance relationships can build into something truly amazing with characteristics unlike any other relationship.
“for anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice”
There is a small group of couples at West Point known as the 2% club. This club is exclusive to the small percentage of couples who endured all four years at West Point together. My husband and I are part of that small percentage. We started dating when we were in high school and, with a lot of love, patience, and commitment, continued that relationship despite the time and distance.
There were times when we would only talk on the phone a few times a week, and we often went four months without seeing one another in person. But we made it work. We both knew in our hearts that the distance was only temporary, and that our love for each other would last forever. Our love was something worth having, and certainly worth paying the price that we did. Sometimes, that simple knowledge is enough to make it through.
“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, you are always here in my heart”
-AA Milne, Winnie the Pooh
Christopher Robin said it best: you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Being in a long distance relationship illustrates that more and more as time goes on. I remember how scary it felt when we began our long distance relationship. There are so many questions that simply go unanswered at first. How is this relationship going to work? When will we see each other? What if we change or grow apart? What if he stops loving me?
But what I came to realize was that, with each passing day, the distance grew less frightening, the questions less daunting… I was becoming braver and stronger than I ever believed I could. I wanted to be that for my boyfriend. My long distance relationship inspired that in me.
If we could make it through this, we have the strength to make it through anything. We can do anything together, with the knowledge that we grew braver, stronger, and smarter as we overcame our relationship’s greatest challenge.
“Distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It’s for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It’s for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don’t see it nearly enough…”
The best part about a long distance relationship is the feeling of getting to see each other again, and know that the months apart are worth mere days together. My husband and I often went four or five months without seeing each other, but each time it was as if nothing had changed. In fact, each time I saw him, I got to fall in love with him all over again.
Those were the moments that made everything else we were going through seem so insignificant. Those were the moments that we held onto until the next time we were together. Those were the moments that inspired us to keep going. We wanted more of those moments, and we knew that someday we would have every single day together.
And those are the moments that we have now. Long distance is not for the self-seeking, it is not for the insecure. It requires strength and sacrifice.
But it is completely worth it!
Going back to West Point this weekend, I realized that I no longer have a love-hate relationship with it. I simply love it, for everything it is and for everything that it did for my husband and me. It challenged us in ways we never expected, but we overcame every one of those challenges and have an incredible relationship to show for it. And I would do it all again.
“Good relationships don’t just happen. They take time, patience and two people who truly want to be together”