Will your love go the distance?

2009-09-25 13:17

EVERY person who has been in a long-distance relationship knows all too well the pendulum of joy and pain it brings: the much-anticipated visits from your loved one, the bursts of heaven-like paradise while you’re together and the sadness that looms as that dreaded goodbye nears.

Family and marriage counsellor Dukie Mothiba and her team of relationship ­experts at the Family and Marriage ­Association of South Africa (Famsa) give advice on how to make long-distance ­loving work for you.

My man has been promoted to a job in another city. What are the chances of a long-distance relationship working out?

It depends on the individual. An advantage to one couple may be a disadvantage to another. It will also depend on how much time the couple spends apart and what the intentions for being in the relationship were in the first place.

Normally people go into relationships with the intention of making it work. Therefore, if circumstances change and one has to move the couple will naturally want to make an effort to maintain the ­relationship in as strong and sound a state as possible.

It is also important to set goals for your relationship. Is there a possibility of ­moving closer together or being in the same city? What are the chances of formalising things at the end of this unavoidable separation?

If the purpose for the relationship is the right one that will help it last. But a relationship that existed only because the partners were available is not likely to stand the test of a perpetrated separation.

How do we keep our love alive from opposite ends of the world?

Clear communication is important at all times so both can understand that the separation does not augur the end of the relationship.

When a relationship is important enough, the couple will use all modes of communication?– telephone, internet, email, letter-writing, visits and exchanging gifts?– to keep in contact. When together, the couple must express as much of their love as possible.

When contact is not possible, mutual trust and regular communication will keep the relationship going until the next meeting.

Clear communication in terms of feelings, needs, thoughts and intention, and ongoing clarification regarding expectations is an integral part of a healthy relationship, whether or not the couple lives together.

Travelling love tip: Have a regular meeting place or holiday halfway between your locations. It cuts the travelling distance and costs in half.

What about the temptation which we may face while we’re apart?

Mutual trust and commitment to each other will help protect the relationship from infidelity. When partners do all they can to keep in touch and make their partner the one important person in their life, then insecurities and temptations can be overcome.

Furthermore, a conscious decision to stick with the right principles and values will help prevent temptation. In a good ­relationship, partners are honest with each other and they are also constantly coming up with creative ways to enrich and strengthen the relationship.

When separation is unavoidable, the couple should use the time to examine their feelings and the reasons pertaining to their separation and also undertake a thorough review of the relationship.

What are the warning signs that things aren’t working out?

)?When the focus is more on the negatives than the positives.

)?When thoughts, feelings and needs are no longer shared.

)?When promises and expectations are no longer fulfilled.

)?When the frequency of the contact and communication starts to dwindle.

)?When interest and attention wanes.

)?When the purpose or goal of the relationship seems irrelevant.

If all the warning signs are there, can we still save our relationship?

If the relationship is important to both partners, the couple should work on saving it when they see the first negative sign. What enriches the self is not to move from relationship to relationship but to find one person that you want to be a part of your life and to build an enriching relationship with him or her. If it isn’t working out, it is still important to discuss new expectations as they emerge.

.?Famsa offers specialised counselling for individuals and couples nationwide. For more information, visit www.famsa.co.za – True Love

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