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We're getting married...and living apart

My fiance and I are moving in a couple of months, to live apart for a year. Why? Because we are both in grad school and need the next year to finish our rigorous studies! We've discussed it at length and want to have this time to organize ourselves, although we will still be very much a couple, doing all the couple things. But it's going to be so hard living apart- which will be until Summer 2007. And we're getting married in December this year!
And tips for staying sane during this time, staying healthy, and staying on my eating plan?
ANY help would be so appreciated- this has been such a hard time for us.

Sun. Mar 19, 6:36pm

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Don't get married

Not yet. I've known so many people who are in their early 20s and have to do a period of separation for work or school and you really do grow apart sometimes. If you don't, then that's wonderful, and get married when you're back together. But why bother doing it now? There's no rush. Wait until you can enjoy being married together.

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 7:28 PM

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not quite the same, but...

my boyfriend and i have been dating for a year and a half (next year he'll move to be with me, and we plan to get engaged within a year or so after that), and we've lived in the same place only 3 1/2 months of that time. he's literally on the other side of the world - 17 hours time difference. when i finally see him again in july, we will have been apart 8 months.

first - good for you! it's a hard decision to live apart from the person you love, but sometimes that's what your professional development requires, and if your career is important to you, then congratulations for realizing that.

second - don't worry. time apart is a terrible thing to consider (and i imagine that deciding to do it instead of being sort of forced into it, as i was, is even more wrenching), but while the reality isn't exactly a barrel of laughs, it's also not nearly as bad as you might imagine. people are more adaptable than we give ourselves credit for, and especially if you're busy, it gets easier after the first few weeks.

my boyfriend and i have done wonderfully with regular phone conversations - we usually talk 3 times a day, even if sometimes it's just 5 minutes. talking throughout the day makes me feel more connected, and more closely mimics the way we talk when we do live together - just to be able to tell him what i'm going to do with my day, and then talk to him a few hours later about how it went - it doesn't have to be romantic all the time (though if you can learn to like phone sex, that can be a good thing, too!). if you're not phone people, then try email or IM - the key for me has been to communicate several times throughout the day, not just once.

as far as getting healthy, both of us felt we wanted to lose a few pounds last time we saw each other, so we made a friendly contest of who could lose the weight faster. we cheered each other on each time one of us made it to the gym or passed up the extra beer. for me, it's also motivating to want to really impress him with how good i look next time i see him - since you'll be apart for a while, the change will be even more striking than if he saw the change day-to-day.

one advantage of being apart is that you'll have more time to exercise (even if it's not your thing, a morning walk, maybe with music, does WONDERS for the mood). it's a good time to try something new - yoga, pilates, rock climbing. you also have more freedom about what you eat. when i'm with my boyfriend, we usually have a pretty big dinner together. when i'm away from him, if i want to splurge on lunch and then just have a bowl of cereal at night, i can.

grad school and research can be pretty lonely, so if you're prone to emotional eating, i'd recommend 1) getting out of the house as much as possible (somehow it's less lonely walking down the street than sitting in front of the TV, and also you're less likely to graze), 2) making friends in town - maybe friends of yours know people in this program?, and 3) becoming good at communicating with friends and loved ones out of town - not just the hubby. download skype (, buy a cheap headset, and get your friends to do so as well - you can talk on the phone for free!

finally, remember you're not alone. all sorts of couples - military, foreign service, professors, and grad students like yourselves - have made this work. take comfort and pride in the fact that you love each other enough to want the other to develop in something else that's important to him/her. if you were strong enough to make that decision, you're certainly strong enough to make it through the time apart.

good luck!

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 7:32 PM

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I'm sorry, but I agree with the last poster! I am getting married too, and the thought of having to live apart of my husband after the marriage..just seems...ludacris, and unbearable! i myself would wait to marry if I were in your situation. I think living apart after being married, is just inviting trouble and heartache!
Please consider postponing the wedding, or any other options you may have.

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 7:35 PM

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oops, sorry..i mean I agree with the poster before the lastone! lol!

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 7:37 PM

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Search the discussion forums on the Chronicle of Higher Education -- you will find a lot of practical advice from graduate students and junior faculty members who have done the same thing for the same reasons.

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 7:45 PM

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Thank you guys so much for your input. We have been together since we started undergrad almost 10 yrs. ago. We are now pursuing our PhD's, so this upcoming year will be grueling. I totally understand your misgivings about getting married and living apart, but we haven't made this decision because we're unsure of our future together, but because we respect and admire each other's professional goals and understand that it's a necessary change. What I actually was wondering about was how to survive the lonely periods- although we will still see each other 3-4x/week- and how I can struggle through it, stay healthy, and not emotionally eat, because I am an emotional eater. I don't want to sabotage the progress I've made!
Kudos and thanks to the 7:32pm poster- your words of wisdom really help put things in perspective and give me great trouble-shooting tips.
Thank you all! :)

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 9:02 PM

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Thorough agreement with the 7:32 pm poster!

My fiance and I met my first year in graduate school, and then he moved 3.5 hours away for his own post graduate education. When it came time for me to graduate I tired my very best to find a position in his vicinity but I could not find anything thanks to a craptastic economy. So I had to opt for a position that's still 2.5 hrs away (in a different direction) from him, but it was that or really stressing our lives by moving in with him with no income to support myself. As a med student he can barely afford to support himself!! I did what any sane, responsible, independant woman would do- I took the job and extended our long distance relationship. We got engaged this past August and are planning on getting married next April, and we've already decided that if I can't find a good position I will continue on in the current position until I can. It will be difficult, but you need not live together to have a good marriage. I suggest you do what is right for you and your fiance, and if it's getting married this winter, than so be it. There are many professions (such as higher education like the last post suggested) where it's damn difficult to find two jobs in one area.
That being said, I sorely disagree with the people who say not to marry until you can be together. It seems to me like they've never had to deal with distance issues while dating, no less fathom being married and living apart. They must not realize that all relationships aren't as convinient as the ones they have. Perhaps they've had an LDR which went sour, but that can happen when your significant other lives around the corner too! What's important is that you love each other, you share common ideas and goals, and that you know you can have a relationship that will survive being separated. Not every relationship can, but take mine as a testament 6 years and counting and we get stronger everyday. Now please understand, I am not advocating long distant relationships (of course I too want to live with my significant other), but it happens and it can work, and work well.
Now as for those diet questions (the real reason you posted!) I think it's much easier to diet living alone, that living with someone else, especially a significant other who isn't dieting. Making time for exercise will be easier too, as you won't have to arrange around two schedules, just your own.

Good luck!

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 9:11 PM

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OP again :)

Awesome point! I can cook only for myself, exercise in keeping with my own schedule, and focus more on certain "trouble" spots to really look great when I see him. I will admit that I will have it easier than most- seeing him 3x/week is better than 1x/month or so, and besides! He's going overseas next summer to continue his research, so this will be great prep for that period of separation. And won't it be lovely, won't it be marvelous, when we move into a new apartment in the Fall?....:)
Thank you guys so much for your perspective and well-wishing. I can't tell you how valuable it is to me at a time like this, especially yesterday, when everything seemed upside down. This is going to be a challenging time anyway, but it warms me to think I have support and encouragement in unexpected, even anonymous, places.

Monday, March 20, 2006, 8:35 AM

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My tips for the long distance relationship:

Phone calls, letters and little care packages make the time go fast. 3-4 weeks is not that long between visits. Spend a weekend finding little fun cards and toys to put in a theme package, make a mix CD, take goofy pictures of yourself, plan really awesome date events for when you are together, sending part of what you will do together in a package... I liked sending and receiving series packages where you do one a week for three weeks, all with something in common.

Monday, March 20, 2006, 12:47 PM

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To the OP,
I have had several friends go through long-distance relationships, both before and after marrying... :-) In one respect, being married before having to be apart is a way to strengthen your relationship-- because you have made your wedding vows, you will probably feel more committed to being together with each other. That's important!!

My friends lived in 2 separate cities until they were able to both get jobs in the same city. They knew the situation coming into the marriage and as soon as the 2nd person could find a job locally, they moved into their new place. One advantage to this is that when you DO get to move in, it could be like a second honeymoon-- and you may celebrate your new home even more, because you have had to work to get there....

I think everyone has their own comfort zones-- but if you KNOW that you plan to be together and are committed to each other, I don't see anything wrong with finishing your studies so that your future can be brighter once you are done!

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