Hi friends! This is the ninth post in my THS guest blogging series. My good friend Jaime Weak wrote this incredible blog post on long distance relationships that I am THRILLED to share with y’all. Man. What a great example her and her husband Tim are for those going through long-distance dating and in marriage too. I can’t wait for you to read this piece. Enjoy!
It was love at first sight. How could it not be?! Look at that mega hunk sixteen-year-old. It was the fall of 2006 as I began my senior year in high school in Omaha, Nebraska. I had just come to faith in Jesus that summer. One of the very first convictions the Spirit brought to me was how much time I spent thinking about boys, so naturally one of the first entries in my journal says, “I am not going to date anyone for a long time. I just want to focus on my relationship with God.”
Then I walked into math class. There he was – one row to the left and one seat behind. The best face I had ever seen, and definitely the best forearms. I didn’t even know how much I appreciated a good forearm until I saw his…but I digress.
Tim Weak, the man who would be the love of my life, my best friend, and the father of our two beautiful daughters.
A lot of life happened between 2006 and 2019, and dated long distance for four of those years. Yep, we dated long distance our entire relationship – and I don’t mean a 2-3 hour drive down the road. I mean a Chicago to South Carolina, 800+ mile long-distance relationship.
It felt and still feels so reasonable to me, a part of our story only God could write, yet when I share it with others, people often raise their eyebrows and have several questions for me. I’m so thankful Shruthi invited me on during her first few months with their precious swirl girl so I could share our story!
The nuts and bolts are this: we met in 2006, formed a friendship, went to prom together in 2007, and had a big talk that summer about our friendship. You see, Tim had decided in middle school that he would not date in high school. Yet it was clear to us (and the world watching) that feelings were developing.
My journal from this time is filled with questions and pouring my desires out before the Lord. I vividly remember our conversation the summer before I left for school at the University of South Carolina – neither of us wanted to hold the other back from what God had for them.It was that foundation that served us for years to come. We knew if our lives weren’t about serving God and each other, they didn’t need to be intertwined.
So I went off to school, and Tim stayed in Omaha for his senior year, and in the spring of 2008, he asked me to be his girlfriend late one night in my family’s living room. That fall, he started school at Northwestern University – we dated from Chicago to South Carolina from that day until July 3, 2011, when we said, “I do!” right before Tim’s senior year & last season of football.
If you find yourself faced with the possibility of a long-distance relationship, know this – it does not have to mean the end! I am a believer that if you can be long distance for a time, you should. It reveals so much so quickly, forces you to work on your communication, and makes you get to know yourself – and your partner – in a way you may otherwise not have.
Below I’ve included a few questions to discuss to jump start you to a successful long-distance journey!
How often will you talk?
Many factors affect this – time zones, schedules, availability, and honestly just preference of being on the phone. One Christmas, Tim & I bought ourselves, Bluetooth ear speakers because I hated holding a phone up to my ear and didn’t like the sound quality of the speakerphone, haha!
In our relationship, we were in totally different time zones, my husband played college football, and we were both full-time students. And, if you remember, we had committed to enhancing the other’s life, not taking the other away (emotionally, mentally) from where God had us. Rarely did we ever miss something in real life so that we could talk on the phone with each other. But we also knew that if necessary, we could get on the phone.
If you can believe it, our long distance relationship was before the world of Facetime, Instagram, and smartphones. Crazy, right?! We would text every day. I can count on one hand the number of times I didn’t wake up to a text from him, even if it was a simple “good morning!”. Texting was our most consistent form of communication, though we talked on the phone as often as we could.
Skype was around, but I always felt sadder after seeing him and shutting my computer to complete darkness and silence. That just didn’t work well for our long distance dating.
We wrote letters and sent packages. These are some of my most cherished keepsakes from our relationship that I just know we would not have without being in different states. It is a physical representation of our love. Plus, there is something about knowing your partner was thinking of you days before you receive something – and then you receive it! It’s a double dose of love.
How will you reconcile after a disagreement?
To me, this was one of the toughest parts of being long distance. After saying sorry and asking/receiving forgiveness, we couldn’t hug, or do something fun together to reaffirm that we were okay. We simply had to trust and move forward with our conversations. It is STILL so hard for me to believe I am forgiven when I’ve wronged my husband. But, I know it is vital to the health of our relationship for me to take him at his word.
Maybe you two will have a code word that signifies “all is well!”. Maybe you two can have a long-distance date where you both go to a coffee shop and make up stories about people you see there – whatever makes you feel connected!
How will you maintain physical boundaries when you were together?
My husband and I didn’t kiss until the day he asked me to marry him. We decided that at the start of dating. I received insight from a friend who simply said, “Physical things can move really quickly when you only see each other now and then.” We both saw the truth in this and ultimately wanted to honor the Lord with that part of our relationship.
We just knew and trusted God’s truth that honoring Him doesn’t always mean easy, but it is still worth it. And it was. With the physical aspect of our relationship mostly out of the question, we spent time learning about each other. We built our friendship as we supported the other and adventured together.
That said, here are some practical ways to guard your physical relationship no matter the distance:
- Decide on your boundaries. Get on the same page. If one of you has more restrictive wishes, honor those. You can always speed things up easier than you can slow down 🙂
- Set practical boundaries. Boundaries can include things like a curfew (saying goodbye at 10 pm no matter what). They can include not being alone in a room together or one of you always staying vertical when sharing a sofa, etc.
- Accountability. I would have a friend text me when I was visiting Tim or vice versa around 9:30 pm and again at 10:30 pm. You may notice a theme with night time. Humans tend to feel vulnerable, tired, and hidden by the cloak of darkness at night. It is far easier to say “yes” to things you mean to say “no” to.
- Set alarms. It’s easy to get caught up in a moment! But when that ridiculous alarm goes off on your phone, *boom* back to reality!
- Pray. What’s right for us may not be right for you. What I’m sharing is not ultimately what we put our hope in. Strive for purity in every area of life, for your whole life, until we see the goodness of God face to face. I 100% believe He will speak to you on this if you seek Him!
How often will you see each other?
This is a necessary long distance conversation to have. The desire to see each other – and doing what it takes to make that happen – can play a big part in how loved you feel within the relationship. Can you make mini weekends happen? Who will visit whom? How will you pay for your trips?
Our answer makes even me feel crazy in retrospect. As I mentioned, my husband played college football. So, although we lived in the same hometown, he was never home for holidays or summers. I always went to Chicago for my fall break, and would see him for a few days around Christmas according to his bowl game schedule. I’d also try to make a trip out in the spring! Tim came out to visit me in the spring of my junior & senior years when his schedule lightened up.
All in all, I think we saw each other for about 20 days out of every year.
How can we strengthen our long distance relationship while being away?
Everybody feels loved in different approaches, and different seasons call for different ways of showing you care. For us, it was a random text message or phone call sharing something that reminded one of the other, or wishing he/she were here. It was sending a thoughtful package or letter. It was a listening ear when the other had a hard day and being joyful and celebrating with your partner if they had a great day – even if your day felt like a total pit. We had a journal we would trade every time we saw each other.
You could have virtual game nights, or watch a movie at the same time together!
Will you choose to trust and believe the best about each other?
I believe this question is foundational to a successful relationship. The truth is your partner will hurt you in some way, shape, or form throughout your dating (and married!) relationship. Still, if you choose to trust him – that he is a man of integrity, seeks to honor you, and wants the best for you – and believe that he is doing his best, it will serve your relationship so well. This isn’t to advise staying in an unhealthy relationship. If you cannot trust him and don’t believe he has your best in mind, it may be best to part ways.