Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Living Apart as a Married Couple

It’s no secret that my husband and I would eventually love to move back to the West Coast, or at least somewhere that’s hopefully closer to our families and friends in California. Initially, our plan was to consider heading back last year after we got married, which would have allowed Stephen to take advantage of some great career opportunities in the state we both know and love.

But after I applied and was accepted to my publishing master’s program, we knew we’d definitely need to delay a big move for at least another couple years. Though I sometimes question whether we made the right decision, all in all, I know we’re both happy to have stayed right here in the DC area for the time being.

Why? Well, among other things, being here has allowed us to adopt our beautiful kitties Molly and Twix, work together to coordinate weddings for several amazing clients, spend time with my sister-in-law following her move from NYC, and most importantly, enjoy our first year of married life together in a place we’re growing to love more and more as time goes on.

It may not be California, but there's still plenty to love about the DC area. 
That’s why I didn’t hesitate to give an emphatic “no” when a couple friends asked whether we’d ever consider living apart for a year or two so that I could complete my degree while he began taking advantage of opportunities elsewhere. The question again came up when a professor recently shared details about a fellowship program that certainly sounds intriguing but would require me to be “geographically mobile” throughout the various rotations required.

The truth is that although this arrangement might work for some people – and some may simply have no choice, such as those with military spouses or career and training opportunities that can’t be adjusted – in my eyes, willingly choosing this type of arrangement in our situation would fly in the face of what it means to be married and share a life with one another.

While it may not always be easy to make our dreams and goals fit neatly and compatibly together, I simply did not get married to live apart from my husband for an extended period of time. After all, if I wanted to live singly and maintain a long-distance cross-country relationship, I would not have taken the step of getting married at this point in my life. Career goals and aspirations are incredibly important, no doubt, but not as important as being there for one another day in and day out, through the good times and the bad. That’s what I promised on June 4, 2010, and that’s the way I plan to live, understanding that it’s definitely never going to be all about what either one of us might individually want, but rather about finding the right path together, whatever that might be.

Married and together for life. 
In the end, we’ve made the best decisions we can thus far and will continue to do so "all the days of our lives," without any regrets, just as we promised we would. There will always be other and better opportunities to come, but none more important than the opportunity to support and care for one another each and every day. 

What do you think? Have you ever lived apart from your spouse or significant other for an extended period of time, and is it something you'd consider? 


  1. I completely agree with you Heather. Shawn and I could never be apart. I would say that we are all young, luckily, and have more time to finish things like degrees and starting up a home before having a full-fledged business or professional career. Many people who are doing what we are doing are 10 years older. Trust your partner and your choice to be with them and all else will fall into place with the other's support.

    PS: I would LOVE to be on project runway but I couldn't work away from Shawn. Cheesy I know, but he really inspires me and nurtures me in a way that fuels my creative side.

  2. I definitely couldn't do a long distance marriage, it just wouldn't work for us. Even though we both like to have our alone time and personal space it's hard enough to be apart for a few days when he goes on his hunting and fishing trips, I can't imagine weeks or months apart. Just not for us but kudos to those that can make it work. I think it's great you two are willing to make certain sacrifices to stay in the same location with each other.

  3. Though it certainly wouldn't be ideal, I think if a great opportunity came up that required us to be apart for a limited period of time (like one year or less), we could make it work. It would have to be an arrangement where we saw one another every three weeks or more, but we're both pretty independent so I think it would be OK. I certainly don't prefer this arrangement, but I'm working on "never saying never."

  4. I think the biggest point is that the marriage needs to be defined by the couple, and no one else. For many, supporting your partner to pursue their passions - even if it means time apart, is what is best. Since P was laid off, we have had this conversation almost daily and while we currently can make it on one income and prefer to stay together - we might have to do a bit of time apart if he does have to move for a position.

  5. This is one of my favorite posts you've written....I feel exaccctly the same way and you put it into the best words possible. I know someone who got married last October and just moved to Italy for a 3 year job contract while her husband finishes up school in the states I could NEVER even consider a situation like that with my husband. We are in this together and we are there for each other each and every day.

    I agree that it's different for every couple...but that is the way that Chris and I feel too.

  6. I can totally understand that but I cannot say that for me it would be a absolute "no" if the right opportunity comes up.

    Since we got married we've never lived a part but we did dated for 2 years on a long distance way. It wasn't easy but there are other advantages to it, like; lots of phone conversation to get to know each other better and also having a even more enjoyable time when we got to see each other.

    If not living a part is what works better for your relationship, then that is definitely the way to go.

    I think that a marriage is an every day thing that the first years of its life (specially) needs to be cared for every day!

  7. I actually did a big post on this awhile ago, too, only I was talking about how many couples are being forced to live this way due to the economy. Both my parents and my husband's parents have to live apart most of the time because of their jobs. My brother and his wife had to live apart as newlyweds because they couldn't both find work where they lived, and I may be living apart from my husband while I go to finish school at my school and he stays to finish his schooling and job here. I also have friends who have to bounce back and forth between living apart and together because they need to go to work and/or school. The fact is, not everybody has that option these days of staying together, especially to stay financially afloat.

    You are definitely very blessed you get that luxury, because so few people that I know of do. I wouldn't have gotten married so young if I had known we would have to live apart, but things change in life and now we do. :/ And you're right, it's definitely not easy. GREAT post, Heather!

  8. I did it for two very long and difficult years on opposite coasts.

  9. I would never want to be in the position of living far away from my husband. When we were dating, we were long-distance for 9 months when I studied abroad. Luckily, our plans for the future keep us together in the same place so I don't think this will be an issue.

  10. My husband and I did long distance for 4 years before we finally ended up in the same place. We then lived in the same city for 3 years (2 of those actually living together in the same house) before getting married. I gotta say long distance sucks, but it was totally worth it for us. However, that said, I don't think I'd ever do it as a married couple (as opposed to bf/gf)

  11. i agree. i couldn't live apart for a long period of time, it would be too difficult.

  12. Mr. A and I never spend a night apart. We never spend a day apart. While we are both working at our separate jobs, we text the entire day. We are basically inseparable. I love it.
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  13. I agree with you, if you can choose where you are as a couple, I def choose to be together! My heart goes out to military couples and other couples who have to live apart for some time. Every couple has their own way of how they do things and how they each their own.

    PS did you see the unique necklace giveaway on our fashion blog on AllWomenStalk!

  14. i definitely admire people who can do that and make it work, but my goodness it would be so hard!

  15. This is a timely post. My husband just got an opportunity at his job that will take him to another state for maybe 2-3 weeks. I know that is not a long time and I am proud that he is doing well at his job. I still think it kinda sucks. I do not think that we could have that type of living arrangement.

  16. When Rob was applying to residency programs we had this conversation a lot, and now that he's apply to fellowship it has come up again. I have an amazing job here with endless opportunity but if he matches somewhere else he will need to go. (and by need I mean "100% have to") We're blessed that my career is mobile as long as we're in a metropolitan area (so that's the only places he is applying) and while it will be hard to start up in a new place, being together is our priority. If he moves, I will move too. For us, being together is a big part commitment we've made as a family.


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