R. D. Langr is an at-home dad and entrepreneur. He has a background in psychology and theology and an intuitive grasp of relationships.
Long Distance Relationships God’s Way
In today's world of increasingly developing communication technology, the world of dating is constantly evolving as well. With chat rooms, online dating sites, Instant Messaging, and Skype, long-distance relationships are becoming increasingly popular, and dare I say, easy?
No, let's face it--Long Distance Relationships are not easy. They are easier than they were 50, 25, or even 10 years ago, but anyone in an "LDR" will admit they are still hard work.
For that very reason, anyone can Google "Long Distance Relationship" and come up with thousands of ways to make them work. Ideas for how to communicate, what to do for fun, how often to see each other, sex, and ways to stay in love populate the pop culture of LDR literature. However, one thing I have found to be lacking is what I believe to be the most important aspect of any relationship--Spirituality.
Therefore, here I aim to help people understand how to keep God at the center of the relationship. If you truly want to it thrive, having a rich spiritual life together is the best way to cultivate your relationship. In this article, I'm specifically about Christianity-based spirituality. There are, of course, many valid spiritualities and philosophies, but that article would be too long!
The Relationship Mirror
Your relationship with your significant other should mirror your relationship with God. Let us assume that's a good thing. This makes sense because, in a way, our relationship with God is long-distance: we can talk to him every day, but we don't necessarily "see him," sometimes, he feels really far away, but you know that despite the distance you two are madly in love. Maybe you disagree with that, but my point is that we can use the skills we use in our relationship with God to keep God in our relationship with our significant other.
The Five Practices
Healthy, God-centered relationships are a virtue, and just like all virtues, they take practice. So here are five daily practices to help you and yours develop a virtuous and holy relationship.
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1. Talk About Your Beliefs
This should be the first step in any relationship, but couples often skip in fear of being incompatible. Simply stated, if your beliefs don't line up, especially spiritually, it's probably not going to work. Therefore, talk about your faith life in general: who you believe God to be, how you've come to know him, and your specific beliefs about your religion or spiritual practices. Also, you should talk about what role God would play in raising a family, and finally, talk about how your faith influences your relationship boundaries (i.e., sex before marriage, kissing, modesty, etc.).
2. Seek Council
When doing something difficult, it's wise to seek out those who have done it before or who have good knowledge of the subject. Find couples who are currently, or who have successfully in the past, had healthy God-filled relationships. They don't necessarily have to be "long-distancers." It is these people who can help you get through the rough times and rejoice with you in the good times. You can turn to them for advice or support, and often they may help you be a good judge of what is unhealthy in your relationship. Support is essential. Pastors and other spiritual leaders can also help focus your relationship towards God during these times as well.
3. Attend Worship Services
Especially when you're together, attend a service. This gives you a chance to experience what it's like to live out your faith and worship together. It also gives you a clue as to how you each interact within a community. It doesn't necessarily have to be a Sunday Worship: even just a prayer service, a wedding, or a funeral can give you these insights as well.
4. Read Scripture
Scripture is at the heart of any religion, so read some together. Pick a book of the Bible to read every week (or two if it's a long one), read a certain amount each day, and discuss what you got out of it when you next talk to each other. Seeing how people read and interpret scripture is essential to understanding their faith life. You can even read other books about faith (The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the Shack, etc.) and discuss those as well.
The most important thing you can do in a relationship is pray--not only with each other but for each other and your relationship. Whether you want to say a specific prayer every night before bed, pray before every meal, or just challenge your partner to spontaneously pray, you should do so every day! Prayer will enable you to get through those times when you just want to see your partner or on those nights when you fight. Pray ceaselessly, and your relationship will thrive.
Go and Do it!
Long Distance Relationships aren't easy, and keeping God at the center of them can be even more difficult. However, if you aim to practice these 5 steps, it will be much easier and more fulfilling, and you and your partner will become well equipped for a holy, happy marriage!
Questions & Answers
Question: Would a long distance marriage work? My wife doesn't feel at home where we currently live, and does not have enough support that friends and family would offer if they lived closer. So she wants to move 950 miles back up to Massachusetts from TN. I moved down to TN with my family because my home state brings out the worst in me. How could we make our marriage work with my wife and children that far away from me?
Answer: It's impossible for me to say this won't work... But it would be incredibly difficult. I'd either get your wife a way to be happy there, or even better, find some way you can be happy in your home state. Good luck that's a hard place to be in. Be honest, humble, and compromise with each other and it will all work out.
© 2010 R D Langr