All relationships are long distance relationships
A friend of mine asked me, how to maintain a long-distance relationship. My wife and I have known each other since Mar 2012. We dated since May 2013. Engaged since Jul 2015. And we just officially got married.
But for all this time - almost 5 years that we knew each others, we've been physically together for about 8 months. Six of which were the second half of 2016. That means, even until the moment we got engaged, we'd been physically together for a few weeks - a few days here and there. That's it. When I was in Singapore, she was in New Zealand. When I was in Ho Chi Minh City, she's in Hanoi. We maintained a long distance relationship.
I'm quite proud to hear people praise us for having a relationship that they'd wish to have. My wife and I have the same mindsets about life. We work in the same field. We like the same things. We take classes together. We want to create training programs that both of us will be the facilitators of. They said we're lucky to have found each other.
So my friend wanted to know how I could maintain such long-distance relationship. And to my surprise, his girlfriend didn't live very far from him. My wife and I used to be thousands of miles away, with 6-hour difference in time zone. But for him, they're about 15 km away, in the same time zone.
I told him a few principles that I used. All common things that everyone knows but no one wants to apply: talk every day, share stories of each other's life, discuss life, do things together, and so on. What struck me was: all of these principles were not exclusive to long-distance relationships, but they were about any relationships.
The truth is: all relationships are long-distance relationships, no matter how physically close two people are. Two people may live very close to each other, they can still feel the distant even when they're on a date, even when they physically meet each other every day. Even when two people live in the same house after marriage, they can still create the huge distance between as if they're thousands of miles away from each other. On the other hand, two people can be half a world away, somehow they're still as one.
My wife and I were not "lucky" to have found each other. We didn't "choose" each other. It just happened. We struggled, of course, but because of one principle, we could be in a close relationship no matter how physically far we were. And for others, if you don't have this principle, I'm quite certain your relationship will always be a long-distance one even if you physically live together.
That principle is: always find common thing to do together, and do it with your whole presence. Don't you realize the reason you argue with someone is because one of you expects the other to do something, but he himself doesn't do it. "Why don't you throw out the trash?" - you ask your wife - but you didn't think it's your responsibility to throw it out too. Once we use the word "you" in the argument, immediately we split the relationship into two halves, with two expectations, no commonality.
My wife and I survived the long distance because we talked about our days together, we watched movies together at the same time, we wrote together, we meditated together, we read books together.
The common thing to do together is not just the activities. It's also about the images - thoughts and planning - for the future. Sure enough, we broke up once because in our images of our futures, we didn't see each other - the common image was lost. And we came back right at the moment when we saw each other in our own future - the common image was reestablished.
Through the common thing - be it activities, images, thoughts, planning - we slowly created our new selves. There's no one out there to be "found" as your life partner. But there's always someone to be created through that common thing.