Long Distance Marriage Problems

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Couples facing long distance marriage problems should strive to find viable solutions to deal with separation issues. In times of war and economic uncertainty, husbands and wives may wind up employed or deployed away from home. But in order to keep an overseas military assignment or out-of-state occupation from wreaking havoc on the home front, it takes a certain level of maturity, trust, and determination. While every day life for couples that live together is normal, families separated by war or a weak economy live a life that is anything but. Stay-at-home moms and dads are stretched to the limit striving to provide a sense of normalcy and stability for young children and teens. Parents stationed overseas or working in another city cannot be present for those all-important recitals and birthdays, or to witness a baby's first steps. And both parents must cope with the lack of physical, emotional and sexual intimacy. A telephone call, email, text message or letter--no matter how lovingly composed--cannot replace the touch of a hand, a reassuring glance or a romantic evening encounter.

While many couples endure short-term long distance marriage problems with relative ease, lengthy separations can cause undue stress and emotional hardship. The spouse whose responsibility is to raise the children alone may feel helpless and unable to cope with day-to-day pressures. In addition to the mundane chores of cooking, cleaning, and carpooling, married-but-single parents are charged with dealing with everything from major incidents like childhood sickness, accidents, and appliance breakdowns to minor skirmishes like trying to convince toddlers to eat their green beans and teens to stop texting while driving. Meanwhile, the absentee parent can feel isolated and discouraged by an inability to play an active role in family life.

Other long distance marriage problems include financial pressures from struggling to manage more than one household. While a job away from home might bring home more bacon, because of dual expenses it takes two pans to fry it. Paying the mortgage at a primary residence and rent at a second location, plus the added expense of two utility bills, two telephone bills, and two grocery bills is enough to make couples think twice about short- or long-term occupational separations. Primary and secondary transportation, vehicle, and insurance expenses also place additional financial stress on dual residence families. But spouses don't have to carry the burden of a lengthy military deployment or out-of-state career alone. They can find faith to endure a temporary or long-term separation in the Lord Jesus Christ. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" (Psalm 55:22).

The emotional toll of long distance marriage problems can result in alienation of affection and worse, infidelity. Husbands and wives who endure separations for the sake of career or duty to country are more prone to marital mayhem and divorce than those who consistently share the same household. Prolonged isolation away from loved ones and a lack of physical intimacy and companionship can open the door to unfaithfulness. Humans are designed by God to engage in intimate contact, stimulating conversation and a mutually satisfying emotional interchange. Over time, men and women who are deprived of intimate contact due to long distance marriage problems are more likely to yield to illicit relationships and adulterous affairs. But the sense of betrayal and lack of trust caused by an extramarital affair will not be easily overcome. "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves over to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that satan tempt you not for your incontinency" (I Corinthians 7:5).

Couples facing long distance marriage problems should investigate alternative job opportunities closer to home. The benefits of more income from long distance employment may not justify the emotional turmoil of a lengthy separation or the additional expense. Husbands and wives should compare the costs of managing two households versus taking a lesser paying local job. If a spouse must travel out of town or across the globe, scheduling flights on holidays or temporary duty assignments (TDYs) back home to regularly reconnect with husbands and wives would be a prudent decision. Other economic alternatives might include taking a part time job to supplement the family income rather than risk separation; or trimming the household budget by cutting back on luxury items.

Military spouses may not have the luxury of transferring closer to home, but they can seek the aid of on- or off-base social service agencies that help families cope with long distance marriage problems. Spouses married to enlisted personnel may enroll in support groups that offer opportunities to share concerns with other families. The military may also provide groups and activities for youth and teens of deployed parents. Civilian and service personnel may also solicit the aid of a qualified relationship counselor or seasoned clergy when marital issues seem too difficult to manage.

To avoid the pitfalls of unavoidable long distance marriage problems, couples should strive to maintain regular communication through emails, texts, telephone calls and web cams. Sharing day-to-day challenges by including absentee spouses in decision-making, and creating long distance romantic encounters helps keep the home fires burning. The stay-at-home husband or wife should try to make every day away from a loved one count. Sending a box full of homemade cookies, chocolates or flowers overseas or to the next city with a racy love letter tucked inside reminds a mate working or serving away from home of the special love that only the two of them share. Couples who make the effort to keep love alive will discover that an extended absence really can make hearts grow fonder.

Family Growing Apart

Telltale signs of a family growing apart are a lack of communication, a lack of emotional bonding and interaction, and a lack of shared interests. A lack of conversation may be the first sign of a family's demise. Instead of sharing highlights of the day around an evening meal, everyone eats at different times and in different places. A working parent may grab a sandwich at the desk, putting in long hours to earn overtime pay. Adolescents and teens are so involved in school and extracurricular activities that they would rather "have it their way" at a local burger joint. Becoming overly involved in work and activities leaves the home front lacking in togetherness and lacking in common interests. The end result of a family growing apart is a society that does not reverence its fathers nor respects its mothers, and offspring that are emotionally disconnected. "There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless [the] mother. There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from ... filthiness. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men" (Proverbs 30:11-14).

The importance of a close knit family unit cannot be overemphasized--it is the cornerstone upon which a nation and a church are built. When families are strong, they strengthen the Church as a whole. And when the Church is strong, the nation grows stronger. Studies also indicate that absentee fathers cause a myriad of socioeconomic problems in the family unit, including a higher incidence of teen pregnancy, alcoholism and drug abuse, and crime. It is apparent that the role of the family in society and in the world is a crucial one. The perpetuation of the human race depends on solid marriages that produce emotionally stable children. A family growing apart not only destroys God's original intent and purpose for mankind, but it also erodes the moral, ethical and religious foundation of a people and a nation. "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6).

While it is normal in today's society for husbands and wives and children to live complicated lives full of scheduled events from sunup to sundown, several decades ago the landscape of the American family was a very different place. Traditionally, the man was the breadwinner of the home and left for work each day to provide for a wife and children. Being a stay-at-home mother was normal, and the traditional role of the wife was a homemaker and a nurturer. Children went to school and came home to dinner around the table with siblings and both parents present. Fast forward to the twenty-first century where both parents work, latch-key kids care for themselves before and after school, and the homestead is just a place where everybody sleeps most of the time. A family growing apart will cease to function as a cohesive unit, but will begin to exist as a disjointed, dysfunctional entity. Communication becomes a series of short phrases jotted hurriedly on sticky notes or digitized text messages.

Another sign of a family growing apart is a lack of emotional bonding and interaction. m The twenty-first century has produced a new generation of independent, self-sufficient youth that have an abundance of material possessions but a dearth of emotional nurturing. Most teens spend formative in daycare where there is no possibility of developing a strong emotional bond with a nurturing parent. By the time a working mom picks the child up daycare, there is only time for a quick meal, bath and bed before beginning the process over again the next day. When children reach adolescence, they will have grown accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle punctuated with brief conversations and fast foods. A family growing apart may be precipitated by permissive or non-existent parenting, as mothers and fathers too busy making ends meet substitute material possessions for affection. Many of today's independent teens have their own car, cell phone, computer, a private room, and a personal life that does not necessarily include parents. Thus, there is no occasion for a high level of emotional bonding or quality parent/child interaction.

The solution for a family growing apart is to return to those old fashioned family values that sustained generations of men, women and children for hundreds of years. Children need to be nurtured and they need the consistent love and guidance that fathers and mothers can provide. If the work schedule hampers quality time with the children, perhaps moms and dads need to investigate alternative income opportunities. A stay-at-home mom or dad can save the family a considerable amount of cash and offset the cost of maintaining a two-income home. Developing a home-based business or simply opting to stay at home with under aged children will eliminate the cost of a second car and fuel, dinner at fast food restaurants, a work wardrobe, and day care or babysitting services. The bonus from ditching that second job is the opportunity to bond with little ones and be home for teens after school. A family growing apart would do well to make some scheduling adjustments to accommodate more time spent together, sharing common interests and developing into a close knit, cohesive, and impenetrable unit.

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