Archive for July, 2009

How did this happen again? My Long Sad Story….

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Nothing could be so important.

A failure to disclose what we each really thought was going to happen is how I ended up in a commuter marriage.

Both Mr. J and I are 2nd timers to this marriage gig.

His previous wife was a stay at home wife. Therefore, in his prior life, when he came home and said, “Honey I’m interested in a job somewhere else.” She responded, “Okay, I’ll start packing.”

One of the things that drew Mr. J and I together were that we were both very driven at work. We shared the same passion for our areas of expertise. I assumed we both recognized that.

When he came home and said to me, “Honey, I’m interested in a job somewhere else.”

I think I responded, “How nice.” (I’ve been told by a reliable source that any time someone from below the Mason-Dixon Line says, “How nice,” they mean something else entirely.) While I’m not below the Mason-Dixon Line, trust me: I meant something else entirely.

Frankly, I didn’t really say much else. Other than “I don’t really want to move.”

Somehow he didn’t hear, “I won’t move.”

Perhaps because I didn’t actually say that?

After the ink was signed on the contracts and we both had the shocking realization that he’d just accepted another position in another state and had resigned from his (then) current job imagine the joy in our household when I stated that I wouldn’t be joining him.

Long dis-cuss-ions ensued. Tears, recriminations.

“Why didn’t you say something?” “Why did you just assume I’d go?”

Suffice it to say there was gnashing of teeth, a midnight run to the emergency room due to a flare up of stress induced issues (mine).

Later we’ll discuss why I wouldn’t just pick up and move. But for this post let me say it again:

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Save yourself some heartache. Say what needs to be said before it is too late.

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Posted in LJ & Mr. J's Story |

Trust. Define Trust.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

At the end of my last post I cavalierly said, “If you can’t trust, you’ve got nothing.”

What does that mean exactly? Does that mean that I never, ever, ever think for a moment that my hubby would cheat?

The good news is that according to Mark J. Penn,author of Microtrends, quoting the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships (LDRs), commuters are no more likely to:
• Break up
• Be less satisfied
• (the big one) Stray

Good to know.

The best thing to do to allay your fears? Talk about it. My hubby and I had a discussion before he moved. We both stated that we would not cheat. We talked about what was acceptable or not to each of us.

We discussed whether it was suitable to go to lunch, dinner a movie etc. with someone of the opposite sex. We talked through the dangers of emotional affairs, again discussing what was and was not acceptable to us.

It was reassuring to actually hear the words spoken, “I will not cheat on you: not physically or emotionally. I love you. And only you.” And then to repeat those vows in kind.

Only you can define trust. Only you know what your commitment was to your partner and his/hers to you when you began this journey of living in a commuter relationship.

As always, it is a challenging road, and this particularly thorny issue is one that requires a lot of trust and a lot of faith.

Safe travels.

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Posted in Coping Tips |

This Ain’t My First Rodeo

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

(I should apologize upfront for my love of old country music lyrics. Chances are you’ll get them a lot.)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out that I’ve been part of a commuter couple before. My first husband and I met in London, England. This was back in the early 1990s where the only way to communicate was to run up enormous phone bills and to send snail mail (perish the thought!). Very few people had an email account. There was no such thing as phone plans with reduced cost minutes, certainly no IM or Skype.

I was very young and naïve back then. I thought love could conquer all.

We spent 6 months together in England. Then six months apart when I returned stateside. We married disastrously, and divorced within three years.

To say that I wasn’t thrilled twenty years later to be back in a long distance relationship was the understatement of the year.

I’d like to think that age has made me wiser, more accepting, less judgmental….

Who am I kidding? No way am I wiser, more accepting or less judgmental.

This time around I realized that long distance relationships take work, commitment, and a willingness to let go and trust the other person.

If you can’t trust, you’ve got nothing. You can make book on that. (See old police shows for that reference: another love of mine.)

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Posted in LJ's Story |

When They Leave…..

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

I trust I don’t have to tell you how to behave when your Significant Other gets home.

On the other hand, when your time is up with your partner and s/he is leaving you’d better have a plan for what to do when that door snicks shut and you are standing there alone.

For some, leaving the house before he leaves helps. After all, we come home all the time to an empty house. Leaving first: whether to run errands, go the gym, or take the kids to the park, makes it easier to come home to an empty house.

If leaving before he does doesn’t appeal or isn’t practical, then I’d strongly recommend you know exactly what you plan to do the minute s/he leaves. I found this particularly critical in those first separations.

Otherwise you’ll probably end up in a heap on the bed crying your eyes out. Or worse, doing what I did the first few months of our separation: drowning my sorrows in a pint (or a few) of Ben & Jerry’s anything Chocolate. This of course added an extra 10 pounds in my hip area which only irritated me further.

Some of my perennial favorite things to “take my mind off” are:
1. Read a book I’ve been looking forward to
2. Go to the gym
3. Treat myself to ice cream (if I go purchase a scoop I can control the portion size)
4. Go to a movie
5. Play on Facebook (or your social network of choice)
6. Garden
7. Watch my favorite movie or TV series on DVD
8. Call a friend and chat
9. Have a “date” with a friend set up for shopping, coffee, dinner
10. Work on whatever is my current hobby: writing, scrapbooking, making holiday presents, etc.

Having a fallback list of “Things to Do” helps to ease the pain of the separation, and gives me something to look forward to.

Actually doing one of these things helps me transition back into my life, away from my husband.

I’d love any words of advice you have on how you navigate the road from being a couple to being a single. What have you got?

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Posted in Coping Tips |

What the heck is a Commuter Couple?

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I’d been living apart from my husband, Mr. J, for over a year before I realized that there was actually a term for people such as us: couples that lived apart.

The most common reasons couples live apart are due to military service or they met on-line they lived in different states or even different countries.

The first time I ever read the term “commuter couple” was in Microtrends by Mark Penn .

He states that per a 2006 study more than 3.5 million people are part of a commuter couple.

Penn’s entire book was an interesting read. You can check out his website here He acknowledged that many commuter couples are indeed military or involved in on-line long distance relationships but he pointed out that the largest growing segment of commuter couples were those who were separated because their careers keep them apart.

That is where I come in. My husband accepted a position out of state and due to a variety of reasons, I didn’t follow. Within weeks of his taking a better, more fulfilling job out of state, I was offered a promotion at my company. I took it. And our fate, for the time being anyway, was sealed.

We are two of the 3.5 million Americans living in a commuter marriage.

I’ll check back in soon with how that’s working out for me.

Generally we see each other every other weekend. We are within driving distance and every other Friday my husband pulls up stakes (grabs his suitcase and his cat) and comes home for the weekend.

Once I had that vernacular: Commuter Couple or Commuter Marriage, I found it much easier to find more resources. One of the best books I’ve read on the subject is The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You’re Far Apart by Tina B. Tessina

Her website can be found here.

She takes the definition even further and includes people who physically live together but never see each other due to shift work or traveling, such as a long distance trucker.

Regardless of what you consider yourself: living together apart, a commuter couple, in a long distance relationship, spouse deployed for a finite amount of time, or just a friend turned up to support me, drop me a line. I’d love to hear about your experience in one of these wacky relationships that millions of people are making work!

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Why a Blog?

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Why a blog?

That is a great question.

I’ve learned in my 40+ years that there is seldom a simple answer to any question. Things are rarely black and white. And I find that my reasons for wanting to start a blog aren’t easily distilled into a one or two word answer.

I had a couple of fairly strong reasons to start a blog about being part of a commuter couple. Part of my reason was actually altruistic. When I first became ½ of a commuter couple, I really couldn’t find too much support for people in my particular situation.

There seemed to be more resources or literature for couples who were either in a long distance relationship due to the military or who had met on line and began their relationships states apart.

Neither of those descriptions fit me. When I said “I do,” I had no idea that one day we’d be living apart. And when the decision to live in different states was made (more about that later) I didn’t know we’d still be apart two years later.

Now with 2+ years under my belt as a commuter couple I think I’ve gained some insight into what some of the challenges (and joys) of being in a commuter relationship are. I hope you’ll join me as I wax eloquently (hopefully) about the day to day things that can become a big deal when you and your partner/spouse/life mate/significant other (I’ll use all of these interchangeably) live apart.

My more selfish reason to start a blog was because I want to develop a regular writing routine. So no guarantee that I won’t take off on a tangent about whatever is driving me crazy that day, but hopefully the majority of the posts will be written through the lens of the commuter couple camera.

I have no idea where this blog will go, no more than I have any idea when my husband I will be reunited.

But you know what – life is too short to worry about the things we cannot control. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride!

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