Today marks Dane’s 1st year as an OFW. If you are to ask me how I feel about it, I’ll say that I feel proud that we made it this far – well, I knew we’d get through this together, and even longer, but of course, we don’t know what lies ahead. If I were to remember, the first night that he left, I felt sooo empty and lonely… and worried!
The past year for me was too long and too short at the same time. I don’t really know what to feel now that we only have 1 year left ’til he’s home. We are halfway through this challenging phase. And God knows in our hearts, that we never want this to ever happen again.
Since today’s his 1st year away from us, I’d like to talk about 12 important (referencing to the 12 months in a year) things that I can think of when I think about our current situation as long-distance married couples.
1. Communication is the rule of thumb
Making time is vital in a relationship and communication is not just true for long distance couples, even for those who are not. Communication is the key to every relationship. We need to understand and be understood by our partner always. We need stay connected and that is only possible when communication is done regularly.
We all know that technology is the LDR couples’ friends: Skype, WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, you name it! There are so many ways to be able to connect to your partner now. The tool is not the problem: it’s the time. You’ll be challenged with time zone differences and work schedule differences and if you don’t make time for it, there will not be a time for your partner.
2. Discuss Important Things
Just because your partner is away, doesn’t mean he’s/she’s not part of your every life decision anymore. Talk about your goals and plans, your savings, your financial situation, your child’s schooling, and many other important things. Nothing has changed except the fact that you’re physically away from each other.
Dane and I always discuss our plans because that is important for us. Especially now that we’re planning a completely different route when he comes home. And of course, these plans aren’t fixed yet but that’s what we want to do and we are praying for that to be realized.
3. Plan for a time together
A time together is what keeps your relationship fueled. That’s what you hope for and patiently look forward to. So make sure to plan that time together with your partner. Create an itinerary or even just a list of the things that you want to do when “that-long-wait-is-finally-over” comes.
For a year now, Dane and I have been talking about the things we wanted to do when he comes home: how it’s going to be when he arrives at the airport, where’s our first family bonding, etc. And I tell you, after a year of planning our time together, our itinerary has changed for the nth time already! lol! But that’s okay, that’s perfectly fine, because that’s what keeps us excited. That’s one of the things that keeps us holding on: the fact that it’ll one day end.
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4. Save Up!
Most (if not all) OFWs, as we know, leave the country for a chance of a better financial status of their family. And as many always say, “kung kaya ko lang kitain ang sahod ko abroad sa Pinas, di na ako mag-aabroad”. However, that is mostly not the case. Which is why our loved ones are there and we’re left behind. As a wife and a person traditionally known as the “ingat-yaman” (treasurer) in the household, it’s very important that we save up money as much as possible.
I hear someone say, the financial stability of an OFW family depends upon how the wife saves the money that comes to her. Although this may not be true all the time because there are many OFW wives, the person left in the PH is the one responsible in handling the finances. And that should mean handling it carefully. This is the reason why I don’t touch Dane’s savings. I only get what’s allotted and leave the rest on his bank account. Because I want him to know that I value his every hardwork, I want this 2 yrs not to go waste. I want this to be the start of a better financial status for us, a stepping stone to a more stable state. Not that I’m bragging because this doesn’t mean that we have millions in our bank accounts right now, but I what I’m trying to say is, spend your partner’s money wisely.
Since both of us are saving up and taking amounts of our salary for our savings fund, it’s important that we keep each other updated of our savings and the amount that we need to raise before he gets home. It’s not easy to save up but we’re both trying our best. Our savings isn’t that huge yet but hopefully we’ll reach our original target amount before he comes home.
5. Never care what others say
This is funny so I have to tell you: someone asked me why I tried to look nice when my husband is not around. That statement has sent so many messages to me, lol. I don’t know if that means I looked like I don’t care about how I would look before, or if I was ugly before and suddenly became a bit prettier now, I’m not sure, haha! But if you know me for a long time now, you’ll notice that I just started learning to use make up now and started to buy clothes for myself (not that I don’t before but it’s just not that often). That is because now, I can allot a few pesos to buy myself a few more personal stuff. I was too simple before until I became more interested in learning basic make up and fashion. Let’s just say I’m so dull before and I’m trying to learn to dress up now, lol! And it’s funny that someone actually thought about that the wrong way!
Some people around you might be “ooh-ing and ahh-ing” when they learn about your brave decision to go LDR but sometimes, there are nasty people who will immediately go ahead and wonder how long you will stay as a couple. Don’t spend time on these people, they’re not worth it. Focus on being a better partner, think of nothing but your family and your relationship.
6. It’s OK to envy other couples sometimes 🙂
I will not be afraid to admit that I envy other couples who walk hand in hand in the malls or those who are dating in the park sometimes. That’s a natural feeling because we all want to be with the person we love – all the time! So don’t be hard of yourself, go on and envy sometimes, lol!
Honestly though, what I like seeing the most are older couples. Those senior citizens who still date at restaurants together, those who still go out together, they’re so admirable aren’t they? And when I see them, I think of no one but my Dane. Seeing older couples together take me to the future and makes me think that one day, it’ll be me and my husband, together, doing anything, going anywhere.
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7. Live one day at a time
I always mention this on my blog. Yes I do, and I will never, ever forget. Because this is how we got through it: living one day at a time. If we think of long much more we have to wait, it’ll be dreadful, but if we don’t count the days, we’ll be surprised it’s almost over (or halfway through for us). I read a quote before that says something about the longer you are away from your partner, the nearer the day that you’ll be together again. Since the day I read that, I always hold on to that.
8. “These are all temporary”
One more promise that you and your partner can hold on to is that it’s not going to be like this forever. One day, it’ll all end and you’ll be together again. In our case, we hope for this to end after 2 years, and nothing more. And hopefully, with God’s help, he won’t need to leave us ever again.
This is true even for those seafarers couple like my friends Melisa and Melody and their hubbies. Even if it’s really the nature of their husbands jobs to be away and to work at seas, it’ll still come to an end one day and they will still be together again. No LDR is permanent, couples are designed to be together. And this is one of the things you can hold on to as a couple.
9. Quarrels still happen
Yes, it still does. For Dane and I, I think we quarreled twice so far since the day he left. Lol. That was during our first few months away when we were still adjusting and were still in the process of settling things. Thankfully, it didn’t happen often. Back when we were together, I easily grouch because I knew he’s just around and we can always settle right away. Things are different when you’re not together. Even though quarrels are inevitable, my advice is try your best not to quarrel when you’re away.
10. Be productive and busy
If there’s something to be thankful for because of a long-distance relationship, it is certainly a time where you can make yourself better. Focus on learning new things and do things that you think can make you even more productive. Your partner would be surprised to see a better version of you when you see each other again.
Right now, I’m taking some short online courses to help me learn more about my passion which is blogging. I also decided to pursue my course in Theology and hopefully be able to finish it soon. I’m also learning the basic make up, lol! Because, really, I have no idea how to do that before! Haha!
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11. Trust your partner
12. Above all, trust God
For someone like us who believe in God and want to make Him the center of our relationship, we put all our worries and leave everything to God. I remember I told Dane once, “we’re almost 1 yr away now, do you trust me now?” he told me he doesn’t trust me, he trusts God.
When we make our marriage our highest priority, with God as our faithful master, no enemies, will or imagined, can come between our us.