Tuesday, July 29, 2008

DISTANCE or “Am I worth more than $3.92 to you?”

THIRD blog (scroll down or look in blog archives to read Sarah's past blogs) Welcome to a guest blogger, Sarah Nass, Brown County Director here at thinkmarriage and someone who is newly engaged! We thought you would really enjoy following Sarah’s journey from how she and Tim met and all the adventures along the way to their wedding. As a trained healthy relationship facilitator, Sarah is getting first- hand knowledge on putting her education, into practical action. Tune in to this blog often to keep up to date with Sarah and Tim’s story!
Sarah writes:
Tim lives about 30 miles from where I do, so one of the things we’ve had to work through is distance. I know, I know, 30 miles is nothing compared to some long distance relationships out there, but with gas prices the way they are…believe me, it matters. We worked out somewhat of a system. We’d see each other maybe twice on weekends, he’d come up here one time, I’d travel there one time. We also began talking on the phone every night. We didn’t plan that, it just happened on its own. Both of us have shared since then that our day just didn’t seem complete until we had connected with the other, even just briefly.
Trying develop a realistic plan to get to know one another, be smart about our personal schedules, and not go broke seeing each other was one of the first challenges we faced. It was difficult for me initially, because I wondered why we didn’t see each other more often. Tim was patient and tried to explain just how much it would cost us financially if we saw each other more than 2-3 times a week every week. Not including eating out, or costs of other activities. I can remember doubting sometimes if I was worth it, or if I was expecting too much, or if he really liked me, or…or…and my mind took off, out of control. (Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. That irrational fear/anxiety/doubt/control that takes over, and if we’re not careful to nip it in the bud it is bound to start conflict, and not in a healthy, everyone wins sort of way!)
It took a few tries, but we figured it out, and I saw his point. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to see me, it was more that if we wanted to keep this relationship at a healthy and safe pace as well as a financially wise one (think quality, not quantity, and also longevity versus burnout) we needed to keep our visits to 2-3 a week. That also helped us keep our own identities sound and stable instead of getting so caught up in one another that we lost them, or left our friends in the dust.
I should note too, that we try to keep our activities focused around things we can afford (we splurge sometimes!), that we both enjoy, that teach us something, and that promote good conversation. For example, within the first couple months, I brought with me on our date the workbook from How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk(ette). In the back is a section called “99 Questions to Ask in the Premarital Process”. I thought, “I wonder how easily he scares?” We have found it to be a very useful tool in addressing topics and helping to shape our conversation to deliberately get to know one another. We called these dates “Business Meetings”, dates that we specifically wanted to address particular issues or topics.
I am not advocating that you make it a formal, dry event, but be purposeful in getting to know one another. Learning as much as you can about the other person is one of the most important things you can do, whether you’re single or married.
It is key in building trust.
What's next for Tim and Sarah? Stay tuned...

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