Thursday January 21 2016

Coping with long distance relationship


By Esther Oluka

Long distance relationships are never easy. While others have succeeded in making them work, others have failed after reasoning that they are complicated, time wasting and emotionally draining.
A case in point is the Obbo family.

For many years, Obbo was frustrated with his occupation as a mechanic. The earnings hardly supported his wife and their two children. When he heard about a job as a security guard in Dubai, he seized the opportunity. In 2014, he left the country for Dubai.

“I did not want my husband to go. I pleaded with him several times but he refused to listen,” Ms Obbo says.
Relations between the couple soured after a year in Dubai. “He hardly calls or replies my messages,” she says. “I am frustrated. He even sends us less money nowadays unlike before when he had just landed in Dubai.”
At a certain point in time, the mother of two wanted to join her husband but the challenges were she did not know exactly where her husband is deployed and also lacks a passport. All she does now is wait and hope for that phone call from her husband saying he is coming back home.

Jena and Sam Kizito is another couple involved in a long distance relationship. Jena stays and works in Uganda while Sam is in South Africa pursuing his studies.

“It is really tough being in love with someone who is miles away. It is like we are living different lives since we are not creating memories together,” says Jena.

The couple communicates mostly via WhatsApp and Facebook. Jena is also glad that Sam atleast makes an effort to call her from time to time.

“It is during such occasions that he reassures me of his love and that he will certainly come back home to me,” Jena says.
The constant communication and assurances is what Jena says keeps the relationship going.

Issues that arise from long distance love
David Kavuma, a counselling psychologist at Mildmay Uganda and Adonai Counselling and Training Services, says problems usually start from the point when one party does not conform to the idea of the other person leaving.
“To this particular person, they will think that you are leaving them despite the fact that you are either going to further your studies or embrace a new career,” Kavuma says.

The only way of restoring calm and hope in the situation is by reassuring the person that you will either come back to them or that you will do everything in your power to see to it that they join you.

“Atleast such words give them assurance that you value the relationship and want it to continue,” Kavuma says.
But that aside, Kavuma says the other challenge with such relationships is that they start to drag along the way because of the uncertainty of where the relationship is heading to.

“It is the reason an individual will even stop communicating regularly as they used to and for those who would also make it a point to visit their partners from time to time, they suddenly stop.”
But again, there is also the issue of infidelity and mistrust.

“It is not that one wants to cheat or have an affair but it is circumstances such as loneliness that force them to seek solace in other people.”

For instance, when Jacob Busuulwa came back to Uganda from a one year study scholarship in the United States, he discovered that his girlfriend had moved on to another relationship and was even expecting a child with her new man.
“I was very hurt because she had always assured me that there is no one else and that she was waiting for me to get back home,” Busuulwa says.

“But when I got home, I found out that another man had taken over and it was already too late to do anything about it.”

Brenda Naiga, is another example of an individual whose long distance relationship crumbled. According to her, the distance diminished the things they talked about.

“The relationship no longer became exciting. We would talk about the same things over and over again and eventually, that became boring. The talk often revolved around, “How are you?” How is home? What are you doing? ” Naiga says.
She is now in a new relationship and so is her former boyfriend.

How to make a long distance relationship work
“The utmost priority is to communicate as much as possible. Talk openly to one another,” says Jean Kyomugisha Nuwagaba, a counselling psychologist based at Care Counselling Centre.
Unlike in the past where communication means were limited, Nuwagaba says one can now take advantage of the different social media platforms, including Facebook and Skype to chat or send a message free cost.
Another important element to have in such relationships is trust.

“Try to never cloud your judgement by making assumptions that they are probably having an affair with someone else. Such thoughts can easily drive one insane. Learn to control your jealous,” she says.
In addition, Nuwagaba says such relationships require that a couple does not keep secrets but instead, they are open with one another.

“This helps couples to plan and solve issues together despite being apart,” she says.
Sometimes what people forget is that the long distance relationship affects the other person as much as them since they will be away from home and their loved ones.

“They can easily become home sick. It is therefore important that the person back home encourages them to remain focussed on their goal but it is also crucial to pray for them. You never know what may happen while they are away,” she says.

Otherwise, Nuwagaba says there is no reason why long distance relationships should fail. If a couple is determined on making it work, the relationship will then succeed.