Billy Ward from Verona, NJ, is a finalist in the Dear GMA Advice Guru Contest. Read his response to a viewer-submitted question below!
Question from Jane in Ann Arbor, Mich.:"After nearly a year long search, my husband found a job in his field in Chicago - 5 hour train ride away. I work in Ann Arbor and maintain the household here. When he comes home, it seems there is so much catch-up work to do, we spend the whole weekend on repairs, chores, bills, etc. Exhausted, it is all we can do to prepare a good meal before falling asleep. By the time we can think about romance, it is time for him to head back to Chicago. Since our finances are still recovering and living separately has additional cost, our disposable funds are limited and prohibit hiring the repairs and eating meals out, We need some strategies to retain intimacy."
Congratulations to your husband for the successful end to his job hunt. He sounds like a man of true character, willing to work hard and sacrifice for his family. You are showing so much strength by choosing to respond with loving kindness and support to your husband while he works in Chicago.
Thank you for having the courage to ask a question that affects many couples in a relationship. Intimacy is a topic that couples should be open about and continually worked on between partners.
Intimacy may seem like a word that is just reserved for the bedroom, but it is also about moments that we share with our partners the lead up to the bedroom. These moments are small gestures towards our partners that are an expression of our love for them. For example, an adoring 10 second hug when we finally get to see our partner could be more special than a $100 dinner out.
There are so many unique and low cost ways to be intimate with your loved one. Believe me, I have a pregnant wife, and many times an intimate moment is sitting next to her on the bed and helping her to unwrap her grilled cheese sandwich from the parchment paper after I pick up the order from the diner (with side of olives and of course, pickle). This simple gesture is a reminder to her that I am literally and figuratively right by her side. We all have the opportunity to make common moments more memorable and romantic.
So I have some ideas for you:
1. Make the most of the time you spend with your husband by really trying to be present when you are together. Focus all of your energy and attention on each other. This includes cell phones away, brief cases hidden and even lock the door as a metaphor of "I only want to be here with you."
2. Ask your partner, "How do you like to be loved?" Is it a loving back rub, or a compliment in conversation? If you ask, your loved one will tell you. Knowing how to please your partner will lead to greater intimacy.
3. The more you love yourself, the more you can love those around you. Take care of yourself. Making a playlist of your favorite songs is all about you, but it sure helps to lift your spirit at home!
Also, I love to have partners in couples counseling write out their responses to the following: A favorite memory with you is….. What I love about you today is……. Let's try to _____________ this weekend
Those responses can be left in a note, emailed, or texted. Putting your feelings in writing is a way to make them come alive!
Lastly, be creative! The distance you have right now is only geography. There is an opportunity for you both to work on how you communicate in all forms.
I wish you the best!
Love and Be Loved, Billy