“Oh, no… Here we go again” I thought. “Here comes another one of those business trips.”
“Where to and for how long?” I quickly asked him.
“Berlin. For a whole work week. I have to leave this coming Saturday night and will be back next Saturday early in the morning.”
I felt like someone had punched me right in the middle of my stomach. Not only would I be separated from my husband for an entire week, (including part of the weekend!) but I would be completely alone and husband-less… On my birthday!
Yep, you guessed it, I could feel the knot on my throat…
And having started my brand-new job roughly two weeks before, there was no way I could take time off, buy a plane ticket to Berlin, and join my beloved George on his trip across the Atlantic ocean… (Okay, pass me the Kleenex now!)
Staying close while being apart
Before continuing, I have to state that although I hate it every time George and I have to spend time away from each other, I completely understand that sometimes life’s circumstances force us to do so. After all, it is not uncommon for spouses to spend time apart due to work commitments or family situations. And let’s not even bring up all military spouses who spend months, or even years, apart from their significant other… That is truly heroic!
Since I knew that trip to Berlin wouldn’t be the last time George and I would be spending some time away from each other, we decided right then and there to come up with a plan to stay as close together as possible while still maintaining a functional life.
1. Call as often as possible – Even if all you get to do is leave a voice message.
There’s only one rule about this: The conversation between both parties must continue, even if it consists mostly of playing “phone tag” by talking to each other’s voice mail services.
This is especially important in the case of being separated by completely different time zones (like in our case, Berlin time vs. U.S. Eastern time.) Let’s face it, it’s not practical, or pleasant to have to call your spouse at 3:30 am your time just because that’s when he or she is home from work. And obviously, your boss won’t like to see you stepping out of that important meeting just because it’s the time you know your honey will be free to talk.
The important thing over here is to constantly acknowledge each other’s calls and messages. When you or your spouse receive a voice message from each other, return the call as soon as it is convenient – Even if you know your call will go straight to your honey’s voicemail. This will assure you both that you are thinking of each other, even if you can’t actually speak with each other.
2. It’s the 21st century – take advantage of the World Wide Web!
Whether it’s via social media sites, email, e-cards, video calls or instant messages, stay connected to each other!
Nowadays it is likely that at some point during the time you are apart, you and your spouse will have access to the Internet, where you can take an opportunity to send each other a quick message just to say that you are thinking of each other. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just agree with your spouse on which means of communication you are most likely to use.
Just because you and your spouse can’t be sitting in front of a computer at the same time doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch via the Web.
A simple message saying “I love you, miss you and can’t wait till I see you again” left on your spouse’s Facebook can mean the world when you two are apart.
Take advantage of the many sites that offer e-cards (many of them for free!) and use your time apart to shower each other with cards with sweet, romantic and even sexy messages. They are guaranteed to be welcomed by your spouse and bring them a smile the next time he or she logs on!
3. Never underestimate the power of a simple old-fashioned card, letter or gift.
Of all the tips provided, this is perhaps the most labor-intensive, and up to a certain point, pricey one. However, should you and your spouse be forced to spend time apart during a special occasion (anniversary, birthday, special event, etc.) nothing can be more personal than receiving some sort of physical souvenir from your other half.
In my particular case, George sent me flowers to the office (he could’ve sent them home but he preferred the office so he could publicly express his love to me – something that he knows I enjoy.) A couple of days later I received a lovely hand-written card from George wishing me happy birthday… In German!!!
Just the thought that George had gone out of his way to send me the flowers and write the card was enough to let me know that he was thinking of me all along, and that he would’ve given anything to be able to be with me on my special day.
Time flies when you keep the spark alive.
While I will not argue that nothing compares to having your spouse next to you, sharing your bed and living under the same roof, I have to say that keeping constant communication with each other while being apart makes time seem to go by faster.
I remember the Saturday morning that I went to pick up George at the airport after he arrived from Berlin. We hugged, kissed and right away picked up the conversation we had started roughly half a day earlier, right before he boarded his plane.
Instead of feeling like I had spent an eternity away from the love of my life, it felt just as what it was – I was picking him up right after work.