We personally didn’t expect the relationship to last. We met in a party in Woodlands, Singapore that a common friend threw. I strike a conversation, she responded. And it’s a match. A week later, we are still seeing each other, discovering each other’s quirkiness and mutual love of comic books and Korean cuisine. Then I have to go back to Brisbane where I am based as an IT analyst, cutting this majestic honeymoon period. We decided to keep the relationship with six thousand kilometers of land and ocean between us.
That was seven years ago. We are now together. It wasn’t easy. We were away from each other for four years, meeting only twice or thrice a year. Then we decided that it is time for her to move here. I sponsored her for a visa and it was another year of waiting and being separated. But it was all worth it.
It was simpler back then. You meet your partner, you build a house, work on your farm, and live happily together. But the world has gotten smaller. The surge of globalisation and economic fluctuations have thrown people out of their homelands in search of better life and career.
And a side effect of this are couples who have to endure living apart while one of them waits to have a visa so they can finally be under one roof. In Australia alone, countless wives and husbands are being sponsored for partner visas so they can be together for good.
We were one of those for half a decade. It was tough and harrowing. Yes, Facebook, Skype, and instant messaging are around, but they cannot hold a candle to going home to your sweetheart and throwing yourself into their arms.
We managed to stay afloat. And with us are lessons on how to survive relationships while being separated by physical distance. Here are five of them.
No couple deserves to live apart. And if they do, there’s got to be a damn good reason behind it. Ours are work and career. I have a flourishing career path here in Oz, and she has an essential role as a banking manager in Singapore. We both know we cannot leave the life and career we diligently built that easily.
If you are going to live separately, know and understand the reason(s) why you will go for this set up. Set goals and plan your milestones together so you will better see why this is the best plan for you. Once those feelings of loneliness and sadness rear their ugly head, you remember these reasons and hold on to them. This will help tiding the pain easier.
If you are not planning to be together in the foreseeable future at all, you better end this. You agree on this set up because in the end, you will be in each other’s arms for good. You hold on to this promise as the anchor that will keep you intact amid the surges of challenges. An Australian spouse visa will take months, even years, to be secured, so you have to be patient.
Once you get your visa and you fly in and are back together, you will realize that all those years of waiting are worth it. It is the best feeling in the world.
At this point, communication is the only thing that this relationship is real. You do not go out, cook breakfast for each other, or watch TV together. Your daily gestures do not go beyond texting or calling each other, so make sure you keep this alive and on going
Being clingy, however, gives the opposite results. Most couples fall into the trap of thinking that putting their partners in a 24-hour surveillance should compensate for the distance. This is not true. Make sure the anticipation and excitement of talking to each other is alive. If you overindulge in each other’s availability, the enthusiasm will be lost.
Every weekend, we set three to four hours of our day to talk to each other about our problems, challenges, achievements, internal celebrations, and our future as a couple. It was an opportunity to improve our relationship and connection. Other than that, it was all short calls and Facebook chats. But they were continuous and ongoing.
This is one of our quirky rituals, and creates a deeply personal connection. We sometimes leave each our laptops on with skype running as we do our house chores. Seeing what each other is doing like passive observers gives us a glimpse of what an ordinary day at home looks like. It gives a feel of living together as we do our own things, rarely interacting save for the smiles and nods and the occasional staring on the camera, and still feel the presence of each other. It is satisfying and relaxing at the same time.
She closed a significant sale for the company? Send her flowers (heck, you can send her flowers for no reasons at all). He met a setback at work? Give him a call or send texts of encouragements to show you are there. These little gestures keep the fire burning, and remind you that even if you are countries away from each other, you never left each other’s’ mind and heart.
We rarely send each other the usual gifts like shoes, clothes, and gadgets since we rather buy them on our own. What I mostly gift her though are videos of my guitar covers of our favorite songs (in DVD format, no less!). Then in return she will mail me her sketches of the Marina Bay Sands or the Singapore skyline. We even send snail mail to each other. Nothing beats the feeling of dried ink impressed on scented paper. It’s the little, even odd things that you do for each other that counts.
The age of expatriations and global diaspora might be upon us, but nothing can stop us from crossing oceans and be being with our loved ones. One channel for that is the partner visa. And the earlier you apply/sponsor for a visa, the earlier you can secure it. And always seek a professional for Australian visa advice as each individual situation is different.