One of the challenges of being an overseas Filipino worker is that he or she is far from family and friends back home. While the usual focus goes to parents who make a difficult decision to leave their children, many OFWs also put relationships with girlfriends or boyfriends to the test as they venture for work overseas.
Many distractions may prove decisive in the fate of long-distance relationships. Hectic work schedules, a wide gap in time zone difference, or suspicious social media status are among the reasons that could break an already fragile love situation. Not to mention the temptations surrounding the OFW and the one left behind: less time for each other means more freedom to do something else.
So how should OFWs maintain a healthy relationship with loved ones separated by great distances?
Plan before the trip abroad.
The two of you may have agreed already that you going out of the country was a tough decision but a decision that need to be made not only to provide a better future, but also a proof that no distance can separate a loving relationship. Plan the adjustments you need to make. What’s the best time to call and what’s the ideal choice to communicate. When you will see each other again. What’s the plan for the next year and beyond. Although it’s hard to plan, especially if the workplace arrangement is uncertain, at least try to draw a plan that both of you will stick to. Once you arrive at your workplace, you may revise the idea a bit to suit the new working and living arrangements.
Set specific times for regular appointments.
As you start your life as an OFW, you have to understand your work, adjust with your colleagues, and get a feel of your environment. While it is essential to stick with the initial plan, a loved one back in the Philippines has to understand this situation and need to compromise during the first few weeks. Once arrangements have been made and work schedules are more defined, go back to the initial plan and honor your agreed time to communicate. Share your happiness and concerns, and be honest about how to improve the means of communication.
Retain independence but honor trust.
Which means trust for each other. This is very important because the lack of confidence will not do you any good. Remember, you are already far apart, and tell-tale signs of jealousy and insecurity will only hurt each other. One feeling neglected and different feeling irritated. Independence means you are free to do the usual things, as long as it doesn’t lead you into betraying trust. You can still meet friends (try to avoid your ex or anyone who may get linked to you). But more importantly, be transparent of what you did and maintain that promise to communicate. Sometimes a white lie is necessary (I didn’t tell you I went to the party where I didn’t expect my suitor would attend, but nothing happened anyway, so I better keep this to myself). Remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder, so as long as you consistently keep in touch, there is no reason to restrict yourself to certain things just because your loved one is far away.
Plan a time to meet each other.
Chat, Facetime, instant messenger, SMS, or long-distance call. Technology has done its part to bridge the gap between two lovers. Make use of it and set this as a top priority. I have to go, our chat with my boyfriend is scheduled for 30 minutes. Yet, this is sometimes misused that it also causes some breakups and souring relationships. When a girl calls only to nag (I was just lonely, so I said that), the boyfriend may feel hurt, and the conversation ends up abruptly. Plan of some interesting/fun topics to talk about to keep the conversation lively. The risk of consistent communication is that when parties run out of things to talk about, it could make the conversation dull and uninteresting. Talk about a funny incident at work. Update what’s going on in the neighborhood. Or anything that interests your partner.
Do something out of the usual.
Send flowers, letters, or personally crafted materials (a slideshow of your photos, sing your favorite songs and record it, etc.). Nothing brightens up a lonely heart more than a phone call or a unique, thoughtful gift that doesn’t have to be expensive. You may even surprise him or her with a visit. (Unless he or she is up to something you don’t know, he or she should be happy when you make a surprise entry.)
Discus long term plans.
Make each other feel that the relationship is just for a short while. Discuss plans in the future. Will you renew your contract? Ask her or him to follow your path abroad? When will you return and settle down? These things may be plans or promises, but they are also a sign of long term commitment — device steps to make this plan a reality.
Anticipate bumps along the way.
Some things are better left unsaid, but sometimes we say them out of disappointment, anger, or slip off the tongue. There will always be obstacles in the relationship. An ex was trying to win her back. His parents prefer someone else than you. You hear rumors he is seeing someone else abroad. By anticipating this and facing them instead of ignoring them is the key to resolving such impasse. Without a fix, these issues could grow, putting both of you in a difficult situation to save the relationship.
As with any relationship, prayer casts aside fears and doubts, reassuring both of you that faithfulness exists in the relationship and that God will guide you to make the right decisions and resolve problems that arise within the relationship.
Being separated for a while is a test that successful relationships must endure. Being far apart will bring intended results, no matter if they are opposite from what you desire. If you fail in your long-distance love affair, then it’s good that you found it out before you made a life-long commitment. If it works, then it must be happy ever after for both of you.