Long-distance relationships are hard. This is not news to anyone who’s been in one. I’ve spent far too many hours driving through Virginia.

I met the woman who would become my wife when I lived in Richmond, VA and she was in school at Virginia Tech. Almost every weekend this meant driving out to Blacksburg or waiting for her to do the same. These were the longest drives ending in the hardest Sunday nights I’ve had. The tearful goodbyes and painful distance meant the weeks were full of video chats, IMs, text messages and as much remote contact as we could manage.

It didn’t get any better once she graduated. She was in Northern VA and I was still in Richmond. Our weekends were the same long drives, but different destinations. Instead of I-64, it was I-95 into the heart of DC traffic and back again every weekend (or as close to that as we could manage.)

Annie and me from October 2007

I remember the stretches of three weeks without seeing each other feeling like the longest times of my life. The computer gives bad hugs. And it never kisses me back.

So while we couldn’t be close to each other, I got to know this wonderful woman deeper than anyone else. We talked. For hours. Everyday. About everything. We shared our loves and fears. Our taste in music and movies. Stories from our lives and our daily existences. I knew Annie and she knew me. We grew ever closer as we learned more and more about each other.

We didn’t have silent movie dates followed by mouths full of food. We had talked all week. We knew each other.

It made every moment we had together all the sweeter. We would spend every moment of those weekends together. The delays in traffic hurt so much because they cut into that precious time together.

It was a rough part of my life. And it lasted far longer than I hope it would. But I eventually found work in DC and moved closer. We eventually got married and moved in together.

The long-distance was the hardest part of our relationship but it also made it so much stronger. It’s always hard, but it will pay off in the end. Use the time you have apart to talk and really get to know each other. Make sure the relationship is worth it. You will be richly rewarded.