My dad was in an 80’s Canadian rock band called Haywire (and yes, he had ‘the hair’). Dad toured until I was 7 years old, which included a stint in Japan and 6 months in Norway – and this was before the days of Skype. Even with two young kids at home, my mom made it look easy; she helped me put together these tips for making a long distance relationship work.
Throughout my life, my dad warned me about the horrors that are “musicians.” He talked about the hardships of life on the road, and said, ‘trust me, Kail, it’s not the life you want.’
And then I married a musician.
My husband, Greg, is in a band called Tokyo Police Club. He has been on tour for most of our relationship. When he is away, people always check in with me, tilt their head in a loving way, and tenderly ask, “How are you holding up?” or say, “That must be so hard – I don’t know how you do it.” And then, for a moment, I feel bad because, honestly, it ain’t no thang.
So, if your partner travels a lot for work, or you are in a long distance relationship, here are some tips that might help:
- Keep your family and friends close. I make plans for the first few nights when Greg is away. It can be a Skype date with my family, or having a girlfriend over to paint our nails and drink wine. If friends want to visit me in LA, I encourage their visits during times when I know Greg will be out of town.
- Read the book The 5 Love Languages with your partner. It’s a guide to understanding your “love language” (how you express love, and what makes you feel most loved). Often, partners don’t share the same love language, and so making this explicit, can provide helpful insight. If you are someone whose primary love language is “words of affirmation” (like me), then long distance is no biggie, just so long as your partner says/texts/emails sweet things to you. If your primary love language is “quality time,” you probably need longer phone chats or scheduled Skype dates. If it is “physical touch,” well then, tough noogies. I’m kidding, but some people do seem to have an easier time with long distance than others, and this book sheds light on why.
- Expect an adjustment period. I’ve realized that I have two different rhythms – one for when Greg is here, and one for when he is away. I need time to recalibrate in both situations. It always takes a few days to get back into the swing of things and get the kinks out. Anticipating the adjustment period helps to normalize it when it happens.
- Love the alone time. When Greg is gone, I do all sorts of stuff! I think of it as ‘going on a vacation with myself.’ I watch all my favorite shows, I make food and actually have leftovers, I host girls’ nights and talk loudly on the phone. I book myself a facial, get Chipotle, curl up in bed and read ridiculous things like Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later (a follow-up to the Sweet Valley High series). I enjoy it. Having your own interests, your own life, and your own successes is key – especially if your partner is off doing ‘glamorous, rockstar-type things.’
I LOVE when my husband is home, but the reality is, his job requires us to to be apart a lot; it just makes sense to find ways to enjoy this time. He loves his job and has an exciting life, and I want to support his dream. I focus on celebrating the ‘coming home,’ loving both versions of my life, and, as my mom says, letting the absence make my heart grow fonder!