In honor of Mother’s Day, I decided to ask my mom how she felt about my long-distance relationship.
My husband, Reed, and I met during high school, and we started dating when we were freshmen in college. At the time, our parents were still a major part of our lives. When I transferred to his university before my junior year (six months before our engagement and one year before our marriage), I was surprised by my parents’ support.
Now that we’ve been married for almost a year, I wanted to ask my mom, Sara, for her side of the story.
Every daughter’s relationship with her parents is different, but I hope her perspective gives you insight into understanding your parents’ concerns and loving them well during your long-distance relationship. At the end, I’ll share my takeaways for you based on her responses.
1. What did you think when I first started dating Reed long-distance?
The summer before you left for college it felt like you were already dating Reed, although you didn’t call it that. Each time you hung out, you were spending larger chunks of time together. Since you had to drive an hour or two to meet each other, Dad and I were becoming increasingly concerned about the time of night you were driving back home (i.e. 3 a.m.). And that’s why he ended up staying at our house (when he came to visit). When you and Reed decided to not date at first, I didn’t really believe that was the end of it.
I wasn’t surprised when you started dating long-distance in November. You were still talking on the phone and texting regularly. I imagined that with Skype and other technologies it might feel more like a regular dating relationship, but I really didn’t think it would be a long-distance relationship long if things got serious. I was already wondering who would move if it came to that.
2. What concerns did you have about our long-distance relationship?
One of my biggest concerns was if you’d be able to truly get to know Reed accurately from a distance. Seeing someone without context can prove difficult. Another concern revolved around the traveling back and forth going to visit each other. I never dreamed you would see each other as much you did!
The first time you were going to stay overnight alone in your car at a campsite made me worried for your safety. We were super glad that you took us up on our offer to put you up in a hotel instead. (I also wondered if you could really afford the gas money, wear-and-tear on your car, and time that should be devoted to homework.)
You and Reed took care of two of our concerns before we voiced them: accommodations when in each other’s city and personal physical boundaries. We appreciated how honest you were with us about wanting to wait to have sex until after marriage.
3. What led you to be supportive of me as I moved and we got married?
Moving to the same city seemed logical if you were truly going to get to know each other. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. I grieved for you at the loss of everything you were leaving behind. I wondered how well your credits would transfer. I was glad you agreed to finish your degree no matter what.
Ultimately, you’re adults. Young, yes, but still adults. We had seen enough of Reed to know that you valued the same things, truly cherished each other, and were committed to a loving forever relationship in marriage.
If we felt like Reed wasn’t a good match, we would’ve said something. But we liked him. My job as a parent isn’t to tell my adult kids what to do. My job is to allow my kids to make their own decisions and raise concerns if I feel there’s something red flag worthy.
4. What challenges did my relationship with Reed create in my relationship with you?
Sharing you at holidays when the seriousness of your relationship was undetermined (before you were engaged) was hard for me. I felt like my relationship with you changed overnight.
5. Were there any hopes, dreams, or social norms you had to sacrifice to support us as we prepared for marriage?
Yeah, people were pretty stunned when we said you guys were getting married before finishing college. Most people thought you were being rash and irresponsible for not doing things in the correct order: college, marriage, career, kids. As if there is a correct order!
Many friends thought we should’ve have counseled you to wait. Since Dad and I had also gotten married young, we expected those reactions. When you moved, many co-workers couldn’t believe you weren’t moving in together. They felt it was financially irresponsible.
I had to give up the dream that getting a degree from your first university would give you better opportunities in your career. I had to trust that God knew the path for your life.
6. How can daughters in a long-distance dating relationship seek to love their parents well?
Any dating relationship changes the parent-child relationship. Remember that your parents love you. Don’t expect your parents to adapt quickly to the new normal. Expect they will ask lots of questions: don’t be offended by them. They want to know you’ve thought this through. Parents want the best for their kids.
Takeaways for You:
- Your parents’ top concerns might be the maturity of your relationship, your safety while traveling, and the financial impact of traveling.
- Parents have to sacrifice, too. It wasn’t easy for my mom to let go of some of her dreams for me and field her friends’ probing questions.
- Your parents’ past experiences will influence how they view your relationship. My parents didn’t mind that we got married in college because they were young when they got married. Your parents might have a different experience.