Gustafson is Swedish. She’s a professor at a university in Denmark. Her husband is African. Together they have a son. Like many, she’s seen first-hand the difficulty maintaining and staying in not only an intercultural but also a long-distance relationship. She says the challenges are vast majorly triggered by distance related factors such as lack of attachment, trust issues, chance of splitting and relationship issues.
The challenges in Long Distance Relationships.
- Lack of Trust
These are just but a few challenges Gustafson faced in her relationship, especially when they were just beginning. The intercultural bit she says was not too difficult to overcome. The long distance bit was more challenging for her. Her family back in Sweden discouraged it. The few colleagues who knew of the relationship also advised against it. They cited many reasons, among them trust.
2. Lack of attachment
Lack of attachment was another issue. She felt isolated most of the time. She wanted him closer to her; to touch, turn, and trust. They communicated often but it never quenched the need to have him close. Not sharing the same contexts in their relationship made things worse. Time zones, weather, friends, patterns, activities, and events are some of the things that make people feel more attached.
3. Chance of Splitting
Even though she felt the love was real and that she trusted him, she often felt perhaps they could split. It was as a result of several mixed feelings. It happens for most couples who spend their time individually. Gradually, they get the feeling that they can do well alone. The feeling of commitment would easily die after some time. This way, chances of splitting remain high.
4. Lack of Intimacy
Intimacy is an intricate part of a relationship, any relationship. Some people want to be able to have their partners close to them others, on the other hand, want a bit of distance between them and their partners. Gustafson had mixed feeling about these. “Sometimes I felt like he should be with me every day. Other times I felt like it was okay because I am always busy.”
How Communication Helps to Manage Intercultural and Long Distance relationships
Communication is a key solution to these challenges. It keeps things rolling, less boring and brings the light of hope. Just how do you make communication work to your advantage? Here are subtle tips.
- Avoid excessive communication
That communication is an important part of a good relationship is a fact you know too well. That it’s very important in an intercultural and long distance relationship is your guess. The problem is overdoing it. Again, that communication is a crucial part of any relationship does not mean that you should be on the phone for 12hrs every day. Remember that less is more.
- Space in your communication
Everyone needs some time alone. Your partner does too. Too little may also be bad for you. What’s important therefore is to know how much time your partner needs. This way you’ll not seem too overbearing and again you’ll not seem as though you are not or less committed. It’s also important to note the need for space has a bearing on personal and cultural beliefs.
- Communicate regularly
Greet each other “good morning” and “good-night” every day — this is a must. On top of that, try to update your partner on your life and its happening, however mundane some of the things may seem. To up the game, send each other pictures, audio clips, and short videos from time to time. By putting in this kind of effort, you make the other person feel loved and attended to.
- Talk Explicit Some Times
Sex is not only a biological need, it’s an important emotional need as well. It is a very important part of any relationship. It’s like glue that keeps couples together. Being away from your partner may present several temptations. This is why you’ll need to keep the flames burning by sending each other teasing texts filled with sexual intimations. Sexy puns work well but you’ll need to be sure they are acceptable by your partner.
- Stay Honest With Each Other.
The other way communication works to help cope intercultural and long distance relationships is when you do it with honesty. It helps to put away feelings of fear, insecurity, jealousy and apathy among others. Usually, if one partner decides to hide anything from the other the secret is sooner or later realized and that would create lots of other problems, which may often take long to solve.
Finally, as stated earlier, it’s important to note that long distance and intercultural relationships maybe tough but also has its own surprises. Usually, things get complicated and would also get sad and lonely but it’s very much possible to manage. Sometimes the extra distance often make simple things like holding hands and eating together memorable. Again, communication is key.