I’ve been married for the last two years to a man who lives in another country. (Scandalous!) As I’ve been living in Los Angeles, a city that is having its own version of a hot and cold relationship with all the COVID rules changing weekly, I’ve come to realize that many people don’t understand what really happens in a long-distance relationship, let alone a long-distance marriage. So, I figured I’d break it down for the public (and apparently, my inner circle, as they aren’t very good at active listening).
Long-distance marriages are typically marriages where two people live in different cities, states, or even countries. There can be a number of reasons for this: Maybe one spouse has a specific type of job, something cool like an astronaut. (I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in Florida? Texas, I’m not so sure…) This would keep them in a certain city with limited ability to see their spouse. Sometimes the reason can be family-related. One person relocates to care for a sick parent or family member. Other times, it can be situations like the one I’m currently in: married to a man from the United Kingdom who is waiting on his green card and thus is currently not allowed in the United States. But whatever the reason, this puts a physical distance (sorry, sexy time) between the two partners. Now that we got the urban dictionary definition out of the way, I can move on to what makes people in LDMs frustrated about you “normal people”.
The difference between long-distance marriages/long-distance relationships compared to regular marriages/relationships that many people don’t understand is that when things aren’t working out because of the distance, arguments, lack of sex, or whatever the issue of the week is, people in LDMs don’t just break it off. It’s not like “I think I’ll kill off Josh in Act 2” – no, it doesn’t work like that. You went through so much to commit to this individual, and you aren’t going to just give up on them because someone named “Rona” came into town and tried to take out the entire world. Although some couples may divorce eventually for other reasons (leaving the cap off the toothpaste), the majority of the couples in an LDM maintain the hope that this is just temporary, and that they will eventually be reunited in a permanent situation. So, when friends ask over and over again the same questions about your long-distance relationship, their short-term memory seems to kick in and their poor active listening skills get the spotlight. Those in an LDM repeat themselves a lot to get their point across, which inevitably makes the friendship and conversations no fun at all.
People in an LDM don’t want to be judged, just like anyone else in any other type of relationship wouldn’t want to be judged over their relationship details. There are many types of people that have an LDM or LDR Actors (an example) manage it all the time and we are in awe of them, yet when “normal” people do it, people can’t seem to figure out how their life works. It seems Millennials and Gen Z’ers, although freelance/tech-savvy/remote through their career, can’t seem to grasp an LDM. They are constantly wondering “Do you still live in LA?” “Are you still married?” The reality is, I haven’t done anything differently. I go visit my husband in England for a couple of months at a time unless Leo calls (that’s DiCaprio) and wants me to produce his next movie (can we please take a break from period dramas?). The journey to England from Los Angeles is 11 hours by plane, so this isn’t just a quick “OMG Let’s go to Cabo this weekend!” trip. Instead, you’re putting your whole life into multiple suitcases. Just the prep on packing takes a few days, and you probably buy a new wardrobe every time, even though it’s your second home. What if you gained the Covid 19? What if you got fat? (As she ponders ordering weight loss supplement on her insta feed) What if the weather of the place you’re visiting (aka that second home I just mentioned) has the temperament of a 13-year-old girl on her period and just can’t seem to make up its mind? You have to pack for all seasons. Take England in August for example. It’s hot, it’s raining, it’s windy, it’s cold and just because the Brits are climatized doesn’t mean my LA tan will fool anyone. And don’t even get me started on trying to explain to my friends (let alone border patrol) my entire situation every time I visit. “I’m here to see my husband, but I don’t have a spousal visa. I’m only here for a short while. I promise I’ll be less damaging to the royal family. I was here before Megan Markle, ffs!” (look up ffs, it’s catchy), while praying to God I get stamped through. Once I am through border patrol and I am free to roam in my other “temporary” home city, it takes me a minute to adjust. The 8 hour time change is challenging enough on the body and sleep, but after a few weeks, I get into a rhythm with my spouse. I start to forget about the world back in LA outside of my remote work, and even then I’m probably not feeling 100% myself – but I try hard. It’s a rollercoaster of stress and exhaustion, trying to keep up with my husband, my job, my friends, my family in however many time zones. Once the trip is over and I begrudgingly head back to LA, I become moody all over as if I didn’t have the time with my spouse I wish I had and the whole cycle starts over again.
 We go back to Skype-ing daily. He thinks we should have more Skype sex. (*whispers a faint yay*). Everything is a constant plan that is always changing. Nothing is set in stone, and especially with COVID now. This can be extra tough on LDMs emotionally. Communication is so important. Couples who live together full time get tripped up on communication day to day, so I’m not saying it’s easier for them and harder for us.
Sometimes I think the distance actually forces people in LDMs into figuring out communication because you have no other way except to rely on FaceTime, phone calls, and texts. The process is emotionally draining, but you have to look at the bigger picture in order to survive.
So, I challenge those out there (maybe those of you who just skimmed this article), to maybe lay off the constant need for the instant gratification of having to check your Instagram feed while you try and catch up with your friends while they tell you about what’s going on in their life. Give them your full attention and learn about what’s going on in their relationship. And for those of you in LDMs, maybe lower your expectations of the rest of the world, knowing most people don’t have what you have and won’t ever fully understand it. You have something unique and it works for you.
For the rest of you out there, aimlessly wandering through the Trader Joe’s aisles (try the Wonton Soup), have you become so dependent that you can’t be independent in your relationships? Can you not go places on your own without your significant other/spouse? Are you constantly seeking the approval of a “squad”? Just something to think about it. But hey, what do I know? I’m just some girl who met some guy online (you know, the “old-fashioned” way), who decided to have a traditional marriage and do things the way America told me to.  


Lauren Peacock