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8 Tips for Making a Long Distance Marriage Work

Long distance marriages have become a lot more common than you may realize, most likely due to the difficult economy we have been facing for the last several years. Jobs have become harder to find, forcing people to look outside of their normal commuting range, and of course the housing crisis has made it difficult, if not impossible, for some to sell their homes when they find a job outside of their normal commuting range.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 3.5 million married couples living apart. That is double what the number was back in 1990, when the Census estimated there were approximately 1.9 million long distance marriages, or "commuter marriages". Though they are more common nowadays, long distance marriages still challenge the social norm that says married couples must share an address. Interestingly enough, however, while living separately once meant the relationship was on the rocks, studies show these couples are no more likely to split than those who live in the same home.

Today's technology likely plays a large part in the ability of couples to stay connected, though they may only be able to see each other on the weekends, or even monthly. The prevalence of unlimited cell phone minutes and video calls via Skype or FaceTime help defeat the loneliness and feelings of isolation when you have to be away from your spouse. Making time to talk at least once each day is critical, according to couples who are veterans of the long distance marriage. Here are 7 other great tips from those who have weathered a commuter marriage:

Be old-fashioned. Definitely utilize today's video technology, but writing letters and handwritten notes give your spouse a keepsake to keep close when they are feeling lonely.

Get creative. Some couples have found that watching the same movie while on the phone together helps pass the time and allows them to talk about the movie, almost like if they were actually together.

Schedule regular weekends together, no matter what the cost. Yes, it's expensive, but nothing takes the place of being able to see your spouse regularly, face-to-face. Couples who had tight travel budgets scoured the internet for the best airfare bargains, but made seeing each other a priority, no matter what.

Put each other first. At least one spouse in a long distance marriage typically has fears about weathering the challenges of being apart. Talking about the fears and trying not to push those buttons will make your time away easier and less stressful for both of you.

Don't put your life on hold. Whining and moping because you are apart will not only make both you and your spouse unhappy, but also could severely negatively impact your relationship. Maintaining friendships, getting out of the house and enjoying your hobbies/activities will not only make you happier, but it will make the time pass quicker as well.

Get romantic.Things like chocolates and flowers tend to fade after marriage, but this is an important time to up the romance factor. When you are together, try to plan memorable activities that both of you will enjoy, and don't forget to take photos to save those cherished memories!

Have an end date. Lastly, and quite possibly most importantly, make sure you have a plan that includes an end date for being apart. Knowing how long you will be apart, and looking forward to being together again can truly help you both cope with the loneliness.

Have you or a couple you know had a long distance marriage? We'd love to hear your tips. Please feel free to share in our comments section!

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