When you’re in a long-distance relationship, people really feel for you. You get a lot of “Oooo that’s so hard.” Loads of sympathy. It’s great!
When you’re in a long-distance marriage, the questions and comments change. They range from much more curious (“How on Earth does that work?”) all the way to completely judgmental (“Do you not like being around each other?”). (Although couples who have been married for a long time often remark that a long-distance marriage is brilliant, which I love!)
So, in the spirit of sharing, and possibly saving myself some future explanations, I thought I would make a little FAQ.
Spoiler alert: YES, we really like being around each other. A whole lot. Maybe too much.
The “My Husband and I Live in Two Different States Official FAQ”!
Q: Wait, you and your husband live in two different states?!
A: Well, it depends on how you look at it. I often say we both live in both places. Technically, his residence is in Michigan, and mine is in California. He spends more time in Detroit, I spend a lot more time in Los Angeles.
A: The basic reason is that we have three awesome kids from Steve’s first marriage. They are in Michigan, so we need to be in Michigan as well. His job is also mostly in Detroit, though he does work out of the LA office at times.
My home and my career are in Los Angeles, so that’s where I need to be.
Q: Oh yeah- how does that work with your jobs?
A: Actually pretty great. Like I said, my husband can come work at his LA office and has a lot of business out here, and his contract actually states he needs to be in California a certain amount of time for his job.
As for me, obviously LA is where it’s at for acting, and I have to be here more in order to build the career I want. However, I am lucky to have some great agents back in Michigan who submit me for union work when I’m there, so I don’t have to just stop working when I travel back to be with him.
Q: Why don’t you guys just move the kids to California?
A: Oh, we never thought of that!
Of course we would love that. There is a whole other human being in the equation, however, and we can’t just demand she move her entire life across the country so my husband and I can be together more.
Plus, to be honest, we like raising the kids in Michigan. It’s close to both of our families, they get to grow up with their cousins, it’s generally a lovely and safe area to grow up in, and Steve gets to do tons of stuff with them that he did growing up, like taking them “up north” and other family traditions.
And, we love the city of Detroit a lot. It isn’t home to me, but Steve did grow up there. We both have a special place in our hearts for Detroit- the community, the sports teams, the history, the businesses- and we like supporting it and watching it grow.
Q: Speaking of kids, isn’t it hard for your husband to be so far away from them when he’s in LA? Doesn’t he miss them?
A: *Grits teeth*
Does my husband miss his children when he isn’t with them? YES. Of course he does! Every minute!
The thing is, that’s part of divorce. You miss your kids when they are with the other parent. He would miss them if they were across town or across the country. Luckily we have all this really cool technology like PHONES so he can speak to them even from all the way out west.
Steve is in Michigan for all his parenting time, which he gets quite a bit of, and on top of that he’s one of those super over-and-above dads that comes in and reads to their classes, takes them out for dinner once a week even on his non-parenting days, and almost never misses a concert or play.
Considering our crazy schedule and his insane workload, I don’t know how he finds time to be SuperDad, too, but he’s awesome like that.
Q: I don’t know…I couldn’t do that.
A: Cool. Good talk.
Q: How much do you see each other?
A: It’s different at different times. The general schedule is he flies to LA every other long weekend and whenever he has a work event. A long weekend is usually Wednesday night to Monday morning, or some version of that. I come to him for holidays, especially if we have the kids or something planned with family, and for other general periods of time, or if I book work out there.
At various times, this has been different. When we first met, he lived in Atlanta. After dating about a year long-distance, I moved to Atlanta to get to know the kids, spend more time with Steve, save some money living in just one place, and check out the acting scene out there. I also recently spent several months in Michigan for some of the same reasons, and because I planned to be traveling a lot.
At one point, he had a job that required him to be in Los Angeles a lot more, and I didn’t have to travel back so much.
It’s ever-changing, and we’ve found the best tactic is to take it day by day, trip by trip, and go with the flow.
Q: Don’t you guys love each other?
A: YES. We love each other a crazy amount! That’s why we got married even though we don’t live in the same place! If we weren’t totally, wildly in love, we would just be like, “Eh, that seems like a lot of work.”
I miss him all the time, and he misses me. When we are together, it’s awesome. We never take sleeping next to each other or holding hands for granted. We send cards, make “mix tapes,” and leave surprises to stay connected. We talk on the phone ten times a day. We are disgusting. Ask anyone who is around us a lot. It’s gross.
I wouldn’t have said I believed in soul mates before I met Steve, but there is definitely something crazy connecting our souls that I can’t explain. I would rather be married to him and only get to see him a little bit of time than be with anyone else in the world.
He’s really, really cool. (And don’t tell anyone but I totally think he’s cute!)
Q: Ok, he has the kids, sure. He can’t move. But why can’t you just move to Michigan?
A: Steve has the kids, and I have a career. I told him right away that my career was incredibly important to me and non-negotiable. I never wanted kids. My plan since I was seven years old was to have a professional acting career. It isn’t just a job, it’s my passion, my art, my dreams, and my window into changing the world. It’s not something I would ever be willing to put down.
Luckily, I have an incredibly supportive husband who loves this about me. He’s never asked me to put my life on hold for him or to give up anything so important to me. If he was that kind of guy, we wouldn’t be married.
Q: But isn’t Your Husband your Home?
A: That’s cute…but no. Very romantic, yeah, I get it. Yes, being with him makes me feel like I’m “home,” but I’m not.
I tried moving into him once. I thought it would be great because he wouldn’t likely charge me rent, or taxes. Unfortunately, I found his body to be small, cramped, and sort of uncomfortable, so I went ahead and moved into an actual home. It has way better closet space.
To be serious for a moment, Los Angeles is the first place I’ve ever lived that felt like home, and that’s very important to me. Even if you took away the fact that I can’t have the career I really want anywhere else in the world, LA is still where I want to be. I grew up in a small town in a red state. I felt like a fish out of water my entire life. I’ve lived several places since then, and the only place I’ve ever felt comfortable and peaceful is LA. I love the people, the weather, the nature, the ocean, the industry, the history, the vibe in general. I love being around people who value the same things I do. I love connecting with like-minded people who left everything behind to chase their wildest dreams.
I LOVE it here. LA is my home. My husband is my husband. He’s a great husband, but I can’t live there.
Q: What about the kids? Aren’t you worried they think it’s weird, or that you don’t love them?
A: My kids know I love them. Sure, I never wanted kids of my own, but as far as little people go, these three are some of the best little people that ever existed. They are smart, kind, sensitive, creative, intelligent, respectful, adorable, and incredibly funny. I go over and above to be sure they know I think they are amazing, to make time for them, and to create magical memories together.
The kids also happen to think it’s really cool that they can brag they have a place in LA.
What’s important to us is that they have an example of two parents that love each other like crazy. I love showing them what a kind, respectful, passionate marriage looks like. I love that they see their father compliment me, thank me, be a gentleman, support my hopes and dreams. I love that they see their stepmom say kind things to their father, look at him with deep, enduring love in her eyes, touch him sweetly, kiss and say “I love you” all the time.
I also love that I get to be an example to my girls (and to our son for future relationship reference) of a woman who values her career and independence so highly. There are many women in this world, some who were born to be mothers, some who were born to be successful in some career, some who balance both expertly, some who do neither, and tons of other kinds. They have a perfectly capable mother who wanted to do that- be a mother. I get to be an example of a different type of woman, who is supported and happy with my choices.
They get to grow up and do whatever makes them feel happy and fulfilled, and hopefully know they don’t have to settle. Cool, right?
Q: So are you just going to do this forever?
A: No, that would be hard! Eventually, we will both live in Los Angeles. Not for at least ten years, til our youngest is off to college, but then we will consolidate and officially move in together on the west coast. It worked out that Steve loves it here, too.
We both love our family and friends in the midwest, and will likely keep a cabin or some type of home back there, but LA is the long-term endgame.
We’ve done the long-distance thing for six years now, what’s ten more?
Q: Do you resent that Steve can’t be with you when he has to be with the kids?
A: Not at all! Some times are harder than others. We definitely miss each other a lot when we can’t get extra time together. Sometimes I have events or things I really wish he could be here for, and we both miss things on the other end. It isn’t uncommon for us to text, “I wish you could be here, and I could be there, too!” We both have rich, full lives and we always want the other person to experience everything with us, but it just isn’t possible.
Even when we are living together, we both work and travel, so we miss things.
I’m the opposite of resentful, honestly. My take on our situation is that we will be together forever, and the kids will only be kids for so long. I like to encourage Steve to do whatever he needs to do to soak up that time now. That’s why he has a job that keeps him in Michigan so much, so he can be there for as much kid time as possible. If that were forever, it would be different. Before we know it, they will be grown and off on their own, so now is the time.
Besides, having so much alone time gives me space to focus on my dreams and goals. I can build my life out here just fine on my own. A marriage is a wonderful bonus and I’m so grateful for Steve, but I’m a pretty complete person with a full complete life!
Plus, I’m an introvert and he’s an extrovert. Major bonus points for the quiet nights alone I crave regularly!
Q: Ok, this actually doesn’t sound too bad! Any tips for those of us in long-distance relationships to make it easier?
A: My friend Jodie told me something very early on in my relationship with Steve that’s really helped us a lot. She was in a LD relationship with a guy from England at the time, and she said the biggest thing to remember is to always, always have your next trip planned before the current trip ends.
There is something about that countdown of days until you see each other that makes a real difference. It’s an anchor to hold on to, something to look forward to. Without it, everything can start to feel a little hopeless, honestly.
I would also note that someone should be willing to move in together eventually. If you’re apart because of school, kids, or temporary job stuff- and “temporary” could be any amount of time, it just needs to be defined- then there should be an end in sight.
The great thing about being LD is that you really have to put effort into your relationship. When you live together every day, you can take each other for granted pretty quickly, or get caught up in the minutiae of everyday life. Look at the bright side and see it as an opportunity. Steve and I became incredibly close very quickly because we couldn’t just go on movie dates or spend all our time making out. We talked on the phone for hours. We really bonded. We shared so much. It’s a cool thing!
As I mentioned, we have to put in the work to feel close to each other since we are physically distant. There are a lot of cards, letters, long emails, mixes, DIY gifts, mailed surprises, constant texting, and special date nights. You get a lot of alone time in a LD relationship, so when you’re with your significant other, you can really be with them. Soak them in, really listen. It’s quality of time over quantity.
Snapchat is awesome for sharing those little things that happen day to day when you are apart. Watch movies together while you’re on the phone for LD date nights. Set scheduled times to talk and stick to them.
Most of all, you have to trust each other a lot. If you are constantly worried about what the other person is doing, you’re going to drive yourself insane. If you just can’t trust them for some reason, just get out. If you can find a way to trust them, do it and mean it. Passive aggressive behavior and snooping will kill a LD relationship so fast your head will spin. There may be some growing pains with this issue at first, because it’s hard not to watch that person come home every night, but what a beautiful thing to find trust that deep with another human being.
Steve and I definitely had to work up to the kind of trust we have now. It takes time and patience, but it’s so worth it. At this point in our marriage, I would bet everything on this man.
Q: So, you think it’ll work out?
A: Yeah. I think we will be just fine. 😉