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Contrary to the belief that after you have the ring on your finger, life as a married couple is not always “happily ever after.” This is especially true when I read an article about couples that spend extended periods of time away from each other, often separated by more than just a few miles. What I’m referring to are couples who write to me who have been apart for months at a time, in some cases over a year, while their partner is in an overseas country.

What leads couples to endure this type of relationship, and the question I often ask myself is: Are the benefits worth the cost of their absence?

Army widows, immigrant couples, couples struggling to get over the poverty line, young couples chasing the dream, corporates, all of these couples endure the hardship of long distance relationships in pursuit of their goals or dreams. For some, it’s not a choice. For others, it’s a sacrifice to be made so that they may be together and happy later.

But in doing so, it leads me to wonder… How do those that have the choice do it? What kind of goals require such a hefty sacrifice, and considering the pitfalls and risks that long distance presents to relationships, is the sacrifice worth it?

Are couples who do this year in and year out (and trust me, I know of some couples who have been doing this for 2-5 years, even 10!) actually married, or are they only married in name, and simply going through the motions?

I personally couldn’t do it. I’m a people person, and the ones I love need to be near me where I can lavish my love and affection upon them and receive the same in return. I don’t think this makes me a needy person; it is just the way I am programmed.

So is the sacrifice of absent partners about the money? For some it is. The constant struggle to live above the poverty line means long-distance is a necessity to have the things in life for their children. For others, the sacrifice of a couple of years is worth the benefit of a better home and standard of living in the many years ahead. For others again, it’s a new start in a new world, paving the way for a wife and family to join them in a new life and chance of prosperity.

Whatever the reasons, chasing the dream has its fair share of pitfalls, and for many couples it brings its fair share of nightmares. Infidelity, loneliness, growing apart, change of goals all can lead to a breakdown of what the two of you once held so dear.

If you had the benefit of knowing how hard it was really going to be, would you have still taken the risk? How high a sacrifice are you prepared to make today in pursuit of a better tomorrow?

A successful long-distance relationship is about remembering the goals you set, and the reasons you chose to be apart. Are your goals still the same? Is being apart still necessary in order to achieve your goals, or have your goals and priorities changed?

If you are in a long-distance marriage and are affected by the doubt and despair of growing apart or losing your sense of connection in your marriage, it’s time to talk to your partner. Reassess your goals. Reassess your priorities.

The most important aspect of this is that you are able to talk and share your feelings. If you are finding this hard, chances are your partner is too. Allow yourself to share this experience as a couple, and find ways to reconnect and come together on this issue. Acknowledging your feelings is the most difficult step, but it’s the first step on the road to reconnection.

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