On the day that I am writing this, it has been 60 days since Tuomas and I finally closed the distance for good and started our lives together.
Within those 60 days, Tuomas and I had to re-learn our relationship and what it now means to be a couple that lives together instead of a long distance couple.
As if closing the distance wasn’t enough of a challenge for us, now we have to go and redefine our entire relationship.
That’s why we wanted to share the lessons we learned as a couple after closing the distance and starting our new lives together.
Give Each Other a Lot of Grace
Closing the distance is an emotional process, you’re happy that you can finally be with your partner without the dread of leaving them again hanging over your shoulder.
Then comes the other complex emotions, like leaving your country and starting a new life as an immigrant.
Or maybe wondering how you’ll learn the language, and wondering what your relationship is going to look like in the future.
Each of you will be processing these emotions, so be sure to give yourselves a lot of grace during this transition.
There’s going to be some conflict after you close the distance, you need to figure out how each other lives their daily lives as well as how you both handle stress.
When conflict and stressful occasions rise be sure to give yourself and your partner grace.
Your love has fought so hard to make it to this point, don’t let an argument foil all your hard work in the relationship.
We Needed to Revamp Our Communication
After going through our own situations where we needed to give each other some space and grace we realized that we needed to revamp our communication habits.
When you are in a long distance relationship you have the benefit of having time to think about your response before you send your partner a message.
There are times on the phone where you can do what you’re doing but still listen to what your partner is saying.
Video calls and meet-ups are the only time where you can spend together in real-time to process your partner’s body language and how they do things.
After you close the distance you’ll need to redefine the relationship by figuring out new communication strategies for each other.
I am an opinionated person, I like things to be done my way and when they aren’t I get a little frustrated
A little might be an understatement 😅
On a video call, I could pause and close my eyes when I got frustrated. So after closing the distance I wanted to keep this habit to help me remain calm.
It didn’t work at all. It actually caused Tuomas more stress.
I had to figure out a new way to pause and reflect before I said something out of anger.
What works for me is still pausing but providing Tuomas with a gentle touch, that way he knows I am upset, and I still love him.
I just need time to work through my anger and process my thoughts.
Actually, the gentle touch I give him is very reassuring for me too.
Knowing that I have someone who loves me and is willing to work through the situation with me.
Sharing Household Responsibilities
Before Tuomas and I closed the distance we had to talk about what chores we like to do for each other.
Then we started living together.
We had to come up with a flow that allowed both of us to live well together.
This process will talk time so there’s no need to rush it 🤗
When it comes to cooking and cleaning Tuomas and I like to break up these tasks and do them together.
Then there are tasks we like to do together, like going to the grocery store.
When you move in with each other, be sure to discuss what basic necessities you will need for your new lives together.
That includes the cooking and cleaning parts too
When it comes to doing chores around the place, give yourselves a time limit on when the chores need to be done.
I am a person that likes to do things right away whereas Tuomas likes to wait until it works best for him.
Give each other some space and don’t hover over them when it comes to doing chores.
Set a time limit for when it needs to be done and trust your partner will complete it in that time.
If you are finding it hard to keep the time limit then talk to your partner about why these things are important to you.
When you can explain to your partner why it’s important to you, they can begin to emphasize your feelings.
Celebrate Your Small Victories Together
We chose to close the distance in Finland.
There were a lot of different variables that led to that decision including the cost of living, family situations, and the success of our futures.
If your partner is choosing to move towards you celebrate in the small victories like finding a new way to get to the grocery store.
Or if they have learned a new word in your language.
I do the same for Tuomas by hyping up his accomplishments and when he finishes a big project.
Those celebrations will help give you and your partner encouragement to keep learning and growing together.
After closing the distance you and your partner will have to figure out what is you want to do with your personal life now that y’all are together.
Celebrate those personal victories that your partner completes, it’ll help to redefine the intimacy in your relationship.
What Date Nights Look Like After Closing the Distance
I like having dates, dates are the one thing I wanted to do with him during every meet-up.
It was also something I loved when we were at a distance.
Now that we were living together dates look a lot different.
That’s why when Tuomas and I made our budget for living together, I made sure to talk to him about the importance of having dates.
I wanted to go out every week, and Tuomas was fine with once a month.
I’ll be honest with y’all I am not a cheap date. I like to go to multiple places, have drinks, get dinner, and go to places together.
Tuomas is way more introverted than me so doing all that stuff is a lot emotionally for him, that’s why it was too much to try to do it four times in a month.
So we had to compromise.
We now have a balance between at-home dates that are passive, where we watch movies together or play video games, and we have at least two active dates.
It was important that we talked about what kind of dates we both liked to do so that why we can both feel fulfilled and loved by each other.
Always keep dating each other, dates are what spark and develop love.
How to Make Friends Abroad
After y’all have discussed how you want to spend time together, you will have to learn how to spend time apart.
The easiest way to do this is by making friends in your area or developing your own hobby.
I have heard some ex-pats have a hard time making friends when they move to a new country.
After moving to a new area in the US and after moving to Finland I feel like making friends all comes down to proximity.
So of my favorite friends, I had in life were because I knew them through something I did.
I would always try to make one friend at the places I went to a lot.
Someone I knew I could hang out with outside of work or any other activity and get a beer with them.
That’s my personal test, “Would I drink beer with this person?”
If you can’t then, they aren’t your people, and that’s fine not everyone is going to be your people.
Think of the good qualities you had in other friends.
Also know that friendships take a long time to grow.
That’s why it’s important to reach out to your people back home.
Schedule a time where you can have a video date with them.
Lastly, don’t forget about your online friends.
If you and your partner met online use that as an opportunity to make some friends online.
Instagram is a great place to look for people in the #ldrcommunity.
I have some friends in Finland that I met within the Instagram LDR community and we talk a lot about our cultures and what our feelings are after closing the distance.
It essential for your social health that you at least have a support system in a new area. Take time to foster those relationships.
Making Time for Our Own Lives
We also had to learn how to make time for our own lives. Tuomas is finishing up his Master’s Thesis, is in a pool league, and has his own friends.
I have a business, I like going to the gym, and hanging out with the girls I met in Finland.
We both needed to make time for our own lives as well as give each other much needed personal space.
In order to make sure that our space needs were being met, we started keeping a schedule and planning what we wanted to do for the week.
This was our way of making time for ourselves and each other in our new lives together.
What’s Life Like After Closing the Distance?
After closing the distance you will discover new parts of your identity and what it truly means to be you.
A question I found myself asking was “Is the person I am now the person I want to be”.
Take time to reflect on that question, really sit and think what it means for your future and what it means for the future of your relationship.
Closing the distance can feel like your own fairy tale ending to you and your partner’s romantic saga.
That’s why it’s important to remember that life after closing the distance is the next book to that series.
This is when you and your partner will start learning how to live and love together in person.
It is not always going to be a smooth ride so it’s important to embrace the journey just like you did the distance.