What a Long-distance Relationship Can Teach Us About Intimacy

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

Couple Spotlight: Meet Tara and Kenneth

Tara and Kenneth have been married for a little over four years (they’ve been together almost seven). Like many couples, they’ve had their ups and downs, and both have rolled up their sleeves to make their relationship work.

And their biggest challenge?

For the last year they’ve only seen each other on the weekends and during holidays because of work-related travel (Tara’s job has required that she spend more time in California in order to complete an important project). As Tara described, “The separation has been hard on us. If we were really independent from each other to begin with maybe it would have been easier, but we like spending time together.”

To help with the separation, Tara and Kenneth created “separation rituals” to help them cope with the distance—anything that helped bridge the geographic distance by allowing them to feel emotionally closer. Regular scheduled phone calls, Skype-ing, and texting each other throughout the day all helped.

But what seemed to help the most had little to do with technology and actually communicating with one another: twice a day (at about the same time each day) Tara and Kenneth think about and focused their attention on some positive memory about the other. “When I can’t think of a specific memory, I focus on something I admire and love about Tara.” And each evening they shared what it was they thought about.

As Kenneth shared, “It might sound hokey, but this makes me feel the closest to Tara I’ve felt in a long time. After about two weeks of actively thinking about her in this way, I started to feel her presence and a warmth toward her…I hope we continue this ritual when her assignment ends and she moves back.”

Clearly, emotional intimacy is influenced by one’s mindset: Your thoughts, intentions and focus can open (and keep open) a pathway to emotional closeness even when you and your spouse/partner are miles apart. 

Relationship Help Action Step: 

What if we all follow Kenneth’s and Tara’s lead and once or twice day we think about our spouse/partner for a brief period of time, deliberately highlighting in our mind’s eye something we love, admire or respect about him/her?

What if you did this for two weeks straight — do you think it would help you to feel closer to your mate? 

Well, there’s only one way to find out!

All best,

Dr. Rich Nicastro

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