By Charissa Cobbler

My husband and I dated for just over three-and-a-half years before we were married. We met in Canada. Long story short, my husband was visiting his cousin and his cousin just happened to be one of my very good friends.

Until two months after we were married, my husband lived in South Africa and I lived in Canada

So even though our relationship started off “in person” and we visited each other as much as possible, much of our interaction was via telephone, SMS, BBM and Skype. Thank goodness for Skype video calls!

Even though long-distance relationships are wrought with challenges, I can honestly say that the hubs and I had a very good relationship despite the distance.

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Don’t skip this post because you and your significant other live ten minutes apart

The world is getting smaller. People travel more and more for their employment or to pursue opportunities so at some point your relationship could become long-distance, even if it is only for a short period of time.

Here are a few key practices that can contribute to a healthy long-distance relationship:

1. Have frequent quality communication

In any relationship, communication is key. In a long-distance relationship, quality communication is the glue that keeps the partners together.

The important factor here is the quality of the communication. An SMS or BBM chat has its place, but there are certain things that cannot be communicated via SMS. Use the methods that will make each partner feel heard and understood.

Also, be mindful that the most effective methods of communication can change as the relationship evolves. For example, at the beginning of our relationship, my husband and I wrote each other long emails and by the time we were engaged and planning our wedding we opted for regular, almost daily telephone or Skype conversations.

2. Be clear about the nature of the relationship and each other’s expectations

Take some time to discuss the nature of the relationship and the level of commitment expected by both partners. Setting the parameters of the relationship while you and your partner are apart can eliminate confusion, disappointment and hurt feelings.

3. Prioritize face time

Seize every opportunity to see each other in person. There was one time when I travelled to South Africa for a week, well to be completely accurate, five days. At the time, I had the money to travel, but arranging my work schedule to make the time to make the trip was a bit challenging. Things worked themselves out and I travelled just over 24 hours each way to see my man for FIVE DAYS and I would have done it again in a heartbeat.

I  once travelled just over 24 hours each way to see my man for FIVE DAYS and I would have done it again in a heartbeat

4. Get to know each other’s family and friends

It is wise to have a good rapport with your partner’s friends and family. The important people in your partner’s life need to be important to you. Also, their backing can help support the relationship.

5. Treat this relationship the same as you would if your partner lived five minutes away, but not really

In other words, treat the relationship like a real relationship, but bear in mind the distance. The distance means that you need to go the extra mile. Make an effort to make birthdays, anniversaries and random days special for your partner if you cannot be with him/her.

I remember a few years ago when I was having a stressful time at work, my husband (then fiancé) sent me flowers, chocolates and a kind note to my office. This thoughtful act really made me feel like he was there with me, even though he was on another continent at the time. Not to mention that this made my co-workers a bit envious.

A relationship can be long-distance for a few months or a few years. These are just a few suggestions to help your relationship thrive despite the distance.

Have a happy V-Day!