Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Emotionally gearing up

My partner leaves in a little over a month. This fact just hit us. Apparently he's been worrying about how he's going to deal with the goodbye at the airport.

We spent a lot of time talking about coping strategies last night. Things like bringing sufficient volumes of fiction and writing short letters to get over the hardest moments of "I miss you" on the plane. (We have a long history of writing letters from points in our long distance relationship where picking up the phone just wasn't an option).

We talked about when we should talk/skype during the day, and what to do when the time difference makes that difficult. I need to be able to write him 3-4 line e-mails with my thoughts throughout the day, given the limited phone time we may face. I don't know if this would be easier if I had a smart phone, since Epsilon is just as interesting in "MINE!"ing a phone as he is in my computer.

We talked about housing for him. Whether he should get housing near campus, or live with a friend of ours who has a kid a few months younger than Epsilon, but lives over an hour commute away.

We talked about how, even after all these years of long distance, I still have a hard time getting work done on the day he leaves because I'm so sad, and how last year, due to our general lack of friends out here, I'd start loosing focus if I skipped a weekend visit. I'll try to get together with a colleague with a young kid for dinner that night, and hope I can push through the loss of focus at missing my partner/get used to his absence enough to be productive during most of the 3 months. I'm not teaching while he's gone. Which is good because it gives me the flexibility I need to be a single parent, but it also means that I will have fewer interactions with people.

And then we talked stressed about next year, which was useless.

We haven't found any firm solutions that we know will work, but we are trying to find a list of coping strategies. Other suggestions are welcome.


  1. Ugg. I always felt the period of anticipation was just as bad as the separation itself when hubby and I had to this (but both times were pre-child days so I can't imagine throwing single parenting in there too!).
    When my collegue's wife and child went to another city for a few months, he got one of those recordable story books from Hallmark or whereever you find them so that the two of them could listen to him reading the story whenever they were missing the sound of his voice.

  2. I feel you- I'm two months in to our (minimum) two years of long distance, and it is no fun. Luckily my husband's and my research means we spend a lot of time at the computer, so we have gChat windows continuously open so we can bug each other at random points in the day, which is nice (I'm a relative newbie to your blog, so I'm not terribly familiar with your situation to know if this helpful or not). I try and pretend he's just at a long a conference between our ~monthly visits. But since he's in the new lab, and I am not, and I got to keep the pets, I think it's harder on him than on me...

  3. Canuck, recordable stories books is a brilliant idea! I just looked at Hallmark's site and they have a Cars book. Definite win. On a related down side, one of the things we haven't figured out yet is how/when to tell Epsilon.

    Anonymous, we've done long distance for about 2/3 of our relationship (though usually able to see each other over the weekends), and having the gchat window open was an important tool during grad school, when we were in the same time zone. I can't imagine doing this while tied to a lab. The flexibility to take work with me and work from my partner's city is what made grad school work. Good luck to you and your husband.

  4. Although I am not in a long distance relationship, but I do feel like sharing lot of things (sometimes trivial and sometimes some big issues) with my husband even during the day. I am (as well as he) always online in yahoo messenger or skype, so it is easy to communicate in a short bits whenever you need to. Even the small things like, "hey, can you buy some bread/milk on your way back" gets communicated during the day. Might be an option for you.

  5. My husband and I did the long-distance relationship for 6 months while I was pregnant with the first kid (in '99) and then for 2 years when I moved to my tenure track job with the kid (in 2004) while he stayed back to try and finish his PhD.

    Long-distance sucks really bad. My son (our oldest, then our only) would always cry all day on the days when daddy was leaving.
    My husband eventually couldn't take being apart any more and quit his PhD program. It was too much for him psychologically to live apart and he was not productive with his research at all. He has a great job with his MS degree here, but I know on occasion he regrets not having been able to finish.

    All I can say is good luck and try to stay strong. Hopefully you will be able to solve the two-body problem in the near future.