Snapshot: When you’re married long distance

by singlemomseeking on May 6, 2010

Many of you are dating long distance. (Yeah, I’m talking about you, T, and your Rascal, along with Momma Sunshine and her Canadian Bald Guy!)

When you imagine your future, surely these questions come up: Would one of you be willing to move? How about your kids? And what does this mean for your kids’  “other parent,” who might be very involved?

So, when I heard that Deesha Philyaw — co-founder of CoParenting101.org and one of “my” former columnists at Literary Mama — was getting remarried, I asked her to please share her story:

More than three years ago, Deesha met a wonderful man whom she refers to online as “TechBoo”  (I was so honored to hear all about him via email when Deesha first started to gush back then!) Deesha lives in Pittsburgh with her two daughters, and TechBoo lives in the DC Metro Area with his two daughters. Yep, that’s 240 miles between them.

As Deesha puts it: “That’s a four-hour car drive, or a 35-minute flight. But who’s counting?”

Just listen to what amazing  planners these love birds are! “TechBoo and I see each other at a minimum two weekends a month, and more often during school breaks, summers, holidays.  He has a never-ending honey-do list in both cities.  I’m in charge of minimizing household chaos and other ‘inside jobs’ in both cities.  I take my bonus-daughters to the dentist.  He helps all the girls with school projects.  We have separate and joint bank accounts.  We have social lives, favorite haunts, clothes, and toiletries in both cities.  We are passionate, best friends wherever we are.”

They bring their daughters together “as often as we can.  They get to enjoy summer camp and vacations together, along with random weekends and some holidays (depending on the custody calendars).  We’ve vacationed just the six of us, as well as with my ex and his wife.”

In March, they got married in a small, family ceremony “during a two-hour sunset cruise aboard a sailing yacht in the Gulf of Mexico. We said ‘I do’ right at sunset at the boat’s bow, while holding on and trying not to go flying overboard as the photographer snapped away — and our daughters alternately giggled, teared up and read poems about friendship and blessings.”

Here’s Deesha and her man during their wedding, a.k.a “sweet life on deck”!
sweet life on deck2

“Our girls  boogied on deck to their own songs of celebration, yelling at every passing boat and to people on shore: ‘They just got married! We love you, Key West! Our six-year-old, always marching to the beat of her own drum, announced boldly to sky, sea, and to the world: ‘They’re married…WE’RE married!’ ”

Of course, I wanted to know how their daughters — who range in ages from six to 13 — have bonded. “The girls get along like sisters, and by ‘like sisters,’ I mean they love each other and…they tolerate each other.  They have a ball together…and they get on each others’ nerves.  But mostly, they miss each other when they are apart and are thrilled when they can spend time together.”

“This process was not at all instant.  We told the girls, ‘This is going to take some time.  Sometimes, you might not want to deal with each other, and that’s okay.  That’s human.  But at all times, everyone must feel safe and respected.’ ”

~~~

After the wedding, Deesha and her daughters went home to Pittsburgh — and Techboo and his girls traveled back to their home near DC. “This will be our arrangement until my youngest bonus daughter graduates high school…in about seven years,” explains Deesha. “Both TechBoo and I have shared custody of our respective children from previous marriages, and neither of us wishes to parent from a distance.”

Now, your turn:

If you’re in a long-distance relationship, how do YOU make it work? Does either of you imagine moving someday to be closer to your new love?

If you’re dating another single parent with kids, how do your kids get along? How do you deal with the fear and resentment that must come up sometimes?


~~~

Please visit Deesha at CoParenting101.org, which she co-founded with her ex-husband! In addition to writing — from Essence to the Washington Post — Deesha teaches as an adjunct writing instructor in Chatham University’s Master’s of Professional Writing program. She graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Economics, and from Manhattanville College with M.A. in Teaching.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna May 6, 2010 at 3:51 pm

My wonderful man lives 14 hours away. We have tossed around ideas, but with jobs as scarce as they are, we are both hesitant to move. We see each other once a month for a weekend or a week. This won’t last forever. We will have to make some decisions. If we lived closer, we could do this for longer, but when plane trips cost $250… He will be here in 4 days (yes, I have the countdown going), and we will be chatting about this very thing. I will keep you posted…

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singlemomseeking May 9, 2010 at 9:25 am

Yes, please keep me posted @Anna!

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Lisa May 6, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Goodness if only we all could be as flexible as these guys. Kudos! I unfortunately or fortunately would want my Boo right under me at all times or as the kids say all in my space.lol

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Canadian Bald Guy May 6, 2010 at 6:49 pm

As I get further and further into my relationship with Sunshine, the thought of moving from my city to hers becomes more and more of a reality and less scary.

We’ve set a date to make a decision…September 2011…when my Ankle Biter starts going to school. I really want to make sure his relationship with me is strong enough to handle me living in another city. It’s gonna be tough on me and Sunshine knows that. But at the end of the day, if it’s a situation where he’s good with it then I’m absolutely willing to move.

I think giving each other three years of long-distance relationship is probably the right amount of time…for us, anyway…to make a decision on knowing whether or not this relationship deserves to be taken to the next level.

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Legal Editor Mom May 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm

I’m so happy for Deesha! I recall earlier in the relationship how I agreed with how well she handled the situation with her man where her daughters were concerned. She truly gives me hope.

I’ve reconnected with my college sweetheart after many, many years apart and both of us suffering from painful divorces. While we at first got back in touch casually, once we started talking again and then saw each other, we knew that we wanted to be together again. It’s as if we picked up where we left off at 19 and we’re now totally committed to each other after eight months of many dates and endless phone conversations. We talk several times a day and are involved (as much as we can be) with virtually every aspect of each other’s lives. He calls every morning to wake me up, I remind him of appointments, we have keys to each other’s homes, and see each other every 6-8 weeks. It’s an eight hour drive or an hour plane ride. Because he travels for work and is on the road a lot, I have all of his online logins and handle all of his business and personal matters. He’s already told me that he wants us to get married and we’re thrilled that we view marriage the same way, and have the same life views. While we know that we want to be together, he doesn’t want to move here and I don’t want to move there. (We’re both in the Midwest and he wants to move to Florida or somewhere south/warm.) The good news is that
he’s even willing to move to my home country in the Caribbean. The bad news is that my mom and I are extremely close and I don’t want to leave the country unless she goes too, which is further complicated because while she has a retirement home waiting, she’s remarried to an American who doesn’t want to go anywhere! So we talk daily about options and how it’s going to play out. It’s truly our only obstacle in being together and while we tentatively “plan” to leave the U.S. in 4 years after his daughter graduates high school, for now it’s very frustrating.

My daughter and I are going to spend 5 days over Memorial Day weekend with he and his daughter at his home with the rest of his family, and I imagine we will talk more about it then. ;-)

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singlemomseeking May 9, 2010 at 9:26 am

@LEM: I’m so happy for you!! Seriously, I think you were one of the first single moms to ever comment on my blog, over three years ago. I love hearing your story. Can’t wait to hear more!

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Kat Wilder May 7, 2010 at 6:28 am

I love, love, love that Deesha and TechBoo did not move their kids away from their mom/dad; so many parents who get married again do that, and I think that’s a hole in their kids’ life that never needed to happen.

When I had a long-distance relationship, we spoke on the phone daily and traveled back and forth (this was pre cell phones, Facebook and Internet in general!) It was hard, but I was so crazy in love, it seemed OK as most things do when we’re crazy in love. But, I was single, and kidfree then.

I would find it an extreme challenge to try and meld families long distance. kudos to Deesha and TechBoo for making it work. When you feel and act committed, that’s all that matters, I guess.
.-= Kat Wilder´s last blog ..Celibacy is the new black =-.

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Michele May 7, 2010 at 7:47 am

Wow! I totally applaud their commitment.
.-= Michele´s last blog ..Press 626 =-.

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T May 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I BIG-TIME-LOVE this post, Rachel! I’m not sure we’ve considered this arrangement before. We’re definitely committed to each other but wow… long distance marriage?

What a great story. Thank you for sharing this. It definitely does give me something to think about.

And Happy Mother’s Day! I love you!
.-= T´s last blog ..Every single mom needs one… (part 7) =-.

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T May 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm

When I told Rascal about this article, he responded, “There is always a way baby. All revolves around trust and independence.”

And that made me smile big. :)
.-= T´s last blog ..Every single mom needs one… (part 7) =-.

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Mommy to the Monsters May 7, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Wow my hats off to you guys….I THINK THAT IS GREAT!
I’m not sure I could make this work….

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 8, 2010 at 11:38 am

What an amazing story! I am so happy to hear their arrangement is working out and impressed with the creativity.

I am dating a man with two children and I have two. What is unusual is that the guy I am dating is NOT a weekend dad, but a full-time dad. This means we have 4 kids at all times. There have been issues and growing pains in this journey, but it is nice that his boys call my son their “almost brother” and my daughter, ever the mother hen, has taken 2 more little boys under her wing. Overall our situation with the kids is going well, but only because of the amazing focus and commitment of my boyfriend to be a solid partner. He is always ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work on issues regarding the kids.

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Anji May 20, 2010 at 1:06 pm

My partner and I were long-distance for two years. He’s Norwegian and I’m British and there were approximately 650 miles between us when we met. He moved here in November 2008 and we’ve been living in domestic bliss since then. The question of “who will move” was never an issue for us – my partner has no children, I have a child, even if I wanted to move my son out of the country I wouldn’t be allowed to as his father would never agree to it. So yes, my partner moved here. :)

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