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Monday, September 19, 2016

Keeping the Flame Lit Over a Long Distance

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey there!

I don't know if you remember me, it's been a while since I emailed you last.  I'm just looking for some advice again.

To sum up what's gone down so far on the girlfriend-front, life's pretty good.

We have been together for coming up on 7 months and we've recently gotten engaged.

It all went pretty quickly, but we both feel really good about this decision after lots of prayer, and we're happy and excited to be together!

It hasn't been an easy time together, she's 20 and I'm coming up on 22, so we're still pretty young.

As I mentioned in my previous email to you, neither of us have had a ton of experience with serious relationships, and so we've had a lot of growing up to do.

It's been a worthwhile adventure and I'm excited to see where our relationship goes.

That said, here's my question:

I got a job working at this place in northern Arizona by the Grand Canyon. The job goes from now until October, about 4 days before our wedding.

I've never done this whole long-distance thing before, and it's been rough for the first few days.

We've spent the last 7 months together almost every single day back at BYU-I, and so being apart isn't easy.

I wonder what you'd suggest about long-distance engagements, how to make those work out and what NOT to do.

Communication is a struggle down here, since I'm basically living in a cabin in the woods, we're limited to Facebook messaging and phone calls when I can find time and service. What should we do and not do so that our relationship doesn't suffer?

Also, we still need to have a serious conversation about our expectations physically for after marriage, I know that's part of your pre-engagement checklist but we kind of felt like we should wait until the wedding was closer to discuss those things, and I don't know the best way to do that. Is that an appropriate Skype conversation to have? I mean, Skype is definitely the safest way to do that, since it would be hard to break the law of chastity from a few hundred miles apart (she's working for her Grandpa in California until the wedding). Would it be best to wait until we meet up the week of the wedding and have that conversation in person? Anyway, any advice you have to offer would be great. I just don't want to meet up in two and a half months and be all awkward and have to re-learn each other two days before we get married, you know? I want to keep this relationships as close and alive as I can, that way we can start off on the right foot when we begin our lives together! Thanks so much for all you do, you provide a great service for us youngsters by giving inspired, old-fashioned, and down-to-earth advice.

You're the man!

I wouldn't mind one other piece of advice if it's not asking too much of your time. The one thing that has been the hardest for us both has been the difference in our interpersonal skills and habits. I have a tendency to be really outgoing and give a lot of attention to people I care about, while Emily is a bit of a "homebody" as she would say, and labels herself "socially inept". She's not, but she is shy and reserved with her feelings. I've had a hard time not taking it personally when she isn't as friendly with me as she is with other people she's known longer, or when she has kind of had "enough" time with me for one day and would rather do something else. I've never been able to have "enough" of anything I really enjoy, so it's hard to understand where she's coming from. She assures me often that she loves me and is excited to spend her life with me, I just sometimes have a hard time looking past those little things that worry me and kind of set off my insecurities.

I know that it's mostly a lack of trust in her, and just the fact that we haven't had a ton of time to get to know each other as well. So any advice on how to let go of my insecurities and trust her more?

Anxiety is something that runs in my family, and I'm taking some extra vitamin B to try to counteract a possible deficiency, but what are some behaviors and habits I can develop that will help?

Thanks again!

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Do

- Write letters.
- Call.
- Send small inexpensive but thoughtful presents.

Don't
- Make plans to see each other alone.
- Call, text or Skype late at night.

As for the "expectations" talk ... I'd keep it limited to simply seeing if either of you have concerns. 

Unless there's a big issue, you'll figure it out and work it out.

The keys to sex, like the other parts of our relationships, are communication, trust and understanding.
As for your last concern, you don't need to be identical to enjoy spending time together. (I'm on a plane right now with Sister Jo. She's crocheting and I'm answering emails and playing Atari games.) 

Help her to feel safe around you.

Understand that she's not exactly like you, and admire those differences.

Celebrate her strengths.

Best to you both,

- Bro Jo

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