Are the benefits of a long-distance relationship few and far between?
If we’re talking about the near future, then yes. Long-distance relationships are not for people who thrive on instant gratification.
But if you’re the type of person who’s in it for the long haul — the type of person who knows that waiting sweetens the reward — then distance has a lot to offer you.
Ironically, the act of learning the long-term benefits of a long-distance relationship will actually impact you more in the short-term. From my personal experience with long-distance, I know it can be encouraging to know your suffering isn’t completely futile.
So, in an effort to give you a glimmer of hope, here are three of the most enduring benefits of a long-distance relationship — benefits I’ve seen firsthand in our marriage as a result of our time spent apart.
1. Deeper Communication
The abundance of 21st-century technology at our fingertips has led to perhaps the biggest benefit of a long-distance relationship: distance expands your communication.
It’s not just that you talk more, distance forces you to converse more deeply. With fewer daily, concrete experiences to connect over, you naturally turn to more abstract topics of conversation.
This deeper communication is essential in dating because it helps you discern if the two of you have a shared vision.
Determining whether your visions for life align (such as the goal to love and serve Jesus Christ) can help you decide if you should continue in your relationship and pursue marriage.
Because at its core, “marriage is friendship.” In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller explains that healthy marriages depend on a strong sense of companionship rather than sexual chemistry.
Discovering how much you enjoy each other’s company will make you excited about your future during this difficult period of waiting — that’s the short-term benefit. The long-term benefit is increased clarity about your cohesiveness as a couple.
But you won’t reap any of these rewards if you don’t have authentic, honest communication. Use these 225 questions to spark deeper conversations during your calls and video chats.
Distance has a sneaky way of sucking all the happiness out of love.
While research does show that long-distance couples are prone to idealizing each other, many also hit the end of the “honeymoon phase” long before the wedding arrives.
One long-term benefit of encountering these difficulties now is that they equip you to handle rough spots later in your relationship. Challenges teach you the discipline of endurance, which is something you’ll need unless you’re living in a Disney movie.
But struggles also teach you that hope cannot depend on happiness: your joy must be sourced sustainably. If you can learn what preserves you in hard times, you will know how to survive anything.
Learning perseverance is a slow, grueling process. There’s not really a short-term benefit.
Yet the long-term prize of perseverance is invaluable. As hard as long-distance is, you can be sure it won’t be the worst situation you will face in your life. You’ll be thankful then for the training you’re receiving now.
To gain much, you must lose much.
Long-distance frequently demands hard choices, like whose parents you won’t see on Christmas, or which one of you is going to move. The necessity of these decisions teaches you that sacrifice is inseparable from love.
Yet none of the losses of long-distance compare to the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate act of love. Crossing the cosmic distance between heaven and earth, Jesus gave up his own life for us.
Sometimes, it is difficult to grasp that God really loves us. We look at the pain and despair of long-distance and wonder how a good God could be involved in such an awful mess.
And yet, because we know how hard it is to sacrifice for someone who loves us, we know how astonishing it is that God sacrificed so much for people who didn’t love him at all.
The sacrifices we make and receive in long-distance relationships can help us understand the intensity of God’s love for us. And if we’re willing to sacrifice our self-destructive desire to do everything ourselves, God can use both the joys and hardships of our dating experiences to lead us into a life-giving, lasting relationship with Him.
I can think of no greater long-term benefit than that.
The Gift of Perspective
All of these benefits can be summed up in one word: perspective.
Deeper communication strengthens and clarifies your connection as a couple. Perseverance forces you to look beyond your immediate circumstances. And sacrifice shows you the epitome of true love.
The benefits of perspective in a long-distance relationship aren’t always immediately apparent. But with time, they will be, and you’ll be grateful you endured until then.
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