How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship?  Were you able to maintain your strong bond, or did the distance end up breaking the relationship?  There are many couples who must end up in a long distance relationship for many reasons.  Some of them have to go abroad to work so that they can support their families and give them a better future.  There are also many who go for their studies abroad so that they have a more global education.  Others simply migrate to find greener pastures.

In my case, my husband migrated to Canada five years ago to work so that he could give our family a much better future than he could if he were to work here in the Philippines.  As a result, we have had to make our long distance relationship work, and until today, we are happily married with two children.  In fact, in a few months, he will be returning to the Philippines, and we will go with him to live a new life in Vancouver, Canada.

According to Helen Keller, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.  They must be felt with the heart.”  She is absolutely right.  The things we value in life are not material things, but the love that we have for our loved ones.  Even long distance cannot separate two people who are truly in love.  Now, I would like to show you how my husband and I maintained a strong relationship despite our long distance.

  1. The first way to keep your love alive is to have patience with each other.  When you are thousands of miles away from each other, it can be very frustrating because when you want to talk, it will be very difficult not only because you are in different countries, but also due to time zone differences.  Sometimes, you are available because it is daytime, but he is unavailable because he is already sleeping to get a good rest for a long hard day at work the next morning.  As a result, you tend to get irritated because you can’t talk to each other right away to inform him or her about your needs and wants.  If you do not have patience for each other, you can easily be annoyed, and when this happens, the tendency is for you to give up because of all that negative feeling you have inside of you.  The more you become negative, the more you ignore your loved one, and eventually, you just resent each other.
    Source: Google Image
    Source: Google Image

    At first, when I couldn’t reach my husband, I didn’t mind because I knew that he had a different schedule.  I was available to talk to him in the afternoon, but he was already sleeping.  I wanted to talk to him about our kids and our finances, but I just couldn’t reach him.  But I understood, and I had the patience to wait until midnight when he wakes up.  Sure, there were times when I got angry and frustrated, but I managed to be more patient than impatient.  At the same time, he was also very patient with me because he knew that I was taking care of our two kids, and he wasn’t here to help.  So it takes two people to be patient with each other in order to make the relationship work.  Now, ask yourself, do you have that kind of patience?

    “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
    Aristotle

  2. Another “must do” in order to maintain a strong relationship despite long distance is to have good communication.  It is very easy to skip talking to each other because of distance and time zone differences.  You can set a time to speak to each other, and make sure that you follow through.  In addition, communication means being able to express yourself so that the other person would know what you think and how you feel.  If you hide your feelings and thoughts, the other person might not know what to do or expect.  When this happens, you have a breakdown in communication.  Communication breaks down especially when you have an argument or a misunderstanding because you tend not to talk to each other anymore.  However, it is important that you continue to talk to each other so that the resentment doesn’t get any bigger.

    For example, my husband and I make sure that we would talk every Sunday since that is the time we are both available.  I know that he gets busy on the weekdays, but we have decided that Sunday is our day together no matter what.  When I was sad, I told him that I missed a lot, and I cried.  It was important for me to express this to let him know how much we missed him.  He also tells me about his problems and his feelings, and I feel that he still needs me.  Despite our distance, we open our lines of communication by expressing ourselves, and it feels as if we are next to each other.“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”
    Henry Winkler

  3. Most importantly, you must have an understanding heart.  Understanding means you know why you are not together, why you can’t talk to each other all the time, why he made a decision you couldn’t accept at first, why he can’t come home right away, why he can’t send more money, why he is out with others at night, or why he is so tired.  At first, you wouldn’t understand, but if you put yourself in his shoes, you eventually learn that life on the other side is also difficult, especially when you don’t have your love one beside you.  Understanding doesn’t mean that you accept everything; it just means that you open your heart so that you would be more knowledgeable, more caring, and more forgiving.  And when this happens, you become more loving.
    For example, after so many years, I can finally understand why I had to be separated from my husband.  Yes, he did come and visit only once, and waiting for him was so difficult.  I didn’t understand why he only came once.  Now I realize, that things do happen for a reason.  Sometimes, God makes you see things only in the end, not during the trials.  I had to learn to understand without questioning so much in order for my heart not to have a heavy burden.  I had to understand that my husband was only doing his best for us, and I put my trust in him.  Now, in a few months, we will all be reunited here in the Philippines, and of course, in Canada when we go together.

    “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
    Marie Curie

There may come a point in time when we are separated from the ones we love.  In order to ensure that we do not get separated from their minds and hearts, we must have the courage to face the struggles of long distance relationships.  With patience, communication, and understanding, we are more prepared and ready to deal with any obstacles.  Make sure that when difficulties arise, you would also pray for guidance, and you will be stronger to face the difficulties together.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency, preparing for her migration to Vancouver, Canada.

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Job Interview Strategy: What is your Weakness?

Ralph is studying at The American Institute to practice his English and improve his communication skills to become a flight attendant.
Ralph is studying at The American Institute to practice his English and improve his communication skills to become a flight attendant.

Almost every job interviewer, regardless of industry, salary, or country asks the question, what is your weakness?  Yet, many recent graduates, and even seasoned professionals do not know how to answer this question.  Do you just tell them your weakness?  Of course not.  You don’t want the interviewer to know that you are weak.  You want them to know that you have strengths that would match the position they have to fill.

Here are some strategies on how to answer this question:

  1. Discuss non-essential skills or attributes.  For example, when you work in an airline industry, time management and customer service are very essential skills.  So, you do not want to tell the interviewer that these are your weaknesses.  Focus instead a skill that is not quite necessary in becoming a flight attendant, such as being funny.  You do not have to be a comedian to become a flight attendant.  You can tell the interviewer that you are only funny to your closes friends, but to strangers, you seem to be more on the serious side until they get to know you better.
  2. Discuss the skills you have improved.  For example, tell the interviewer that you once didn’t communicate very well in English.  Now, after taking courses at the American Institute for English Proficiency, talking to other professionals, and communicating with all kinds of individuals, you have not improved only your English, but also your communication skills in general.  The interviewer wants to know that even if you had a weakness, you challenged yourself and developed your skills.
  3. Another strategy is to turn the negative into positive.  For example, perhaps you can say that you were a perfectionist, which led you to spend too much time on a project.  However, you have learned to work faster, work harder, and work smarter so that you can get the task done correctly sooner than later.  Let the interviewer know that you are not a perfect person, but because you can now work more efficiently and more effectively, your task can be completed right away.  Give examples, like when you were a basketball player, you were such a perfectionist that sometimes, you went home late because you kept practicing.  Tell the interviewer that in order for you to meet your goal of being a starter, you took advice from and had skills practice with your coach and the team captain rather than practicing on your own over and over again.

As they say, practice makes perfect.  Now, I have to keep reading this over and over so that it becomes more natural when I say it.  Good luck to those who are also interviewing.  If you would like to improve your English and communication skills to prepare yourself for a certain career, like Ralph who wants to become a flight attendant, you may visit us at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Makati or Quezon City.

Practicing the Verb Tenses

Studying verb tenses and American accent with Sharon.  It's a very hot day in the Philippines, but learning English is cool!
Studying verb tenses and American accent with Sharon. It’s a very hot day in the Philippines, but learning English is cool!

I am having my third session with my English teacher, Chris Delacruz.  Today, we practiced the verb tenses: past tense.

PAST TENSE

Simple: +d, +ed, +ied, irregular
Example: baked, walked, studied, ate
Exercise: Tell me about your weekend

Last weekend, I was so busy because I prepared a lot for my immigration to Canada.  I had many visitors at my house.  My brother and sisters stayed at my house for their vacation and will stay until my husband arrives from Canada.  That is why every weekend busy.  On Saturday, I woke up at about 7 in the morning.  I prepared breakfast for my kids and my visitors.  After I cooked breakfast, I called them to join me in the kitchen at our dining table.  We had fried eggs, fried hot dogs, fried tilapia, and of course rice and coffee.

When we finished eating, I gave my kids a bath, and I took a bath as well after them.  Then I went to the market by myself while my sister looked after my kids and her own kids and while my brother, who is a police officer, prepared to go to work.  I bought groceries that would last as the next few days, such as sugar, coffee, vegetables, meat, and fish.  After buying the groceries, I went home, and I placed my groceries in the refrigerator.  Then I prepared pork sinigang, a sour-based soup with vegetables, for lunch while my sister was helping me to take care of the children.

Past Progressive: was/were + verb-ing
Example: was eating, were eatingExercise: Tell me about last night.

We had dinner at about 8 p.m. last night.  I started preparing dinner, dalagang bukid with sarsiado sauce, steamed fished in tomato based sauce, at about 7 p.m.  While I was preparing, my mother arrived from a three-hour trip from my home province of Nueva Ecija.  She was traveling on the bus when I was shopping for groceries for dinner at the market.  I was very happy to see her, but she will stay only until after Holy Week.  We were talking last night about my migration to Canada, and I know that she was very happy for me.  She had always wanted the best for me.  While we were talking, my children were watching TV and playing with their tablets, and my sister was preparing the bed.

I wastalking to my mother for an hour or so until my sister joined us.  The three of us were all reminiscing the past, and it brought happy tears to my mother.  I will miss my sister, brother, and especially my mother very much, but I know I will visit them in about a year.  Last night, we were all laughing about my stay in the province when I visited them.  Every time I was cooking for the family, they told me I was very talkative.  I told them I just wanted all the ingredients to be prepared perfectly so that it would taste delicious.

Past Perfect: had + past participle
Example: had eaten, had walked, had sung
Exercise: Tell me about your last trip.

My last trip was in my home province Nueva Ecija when I visited my family and relatives.  I had bought (buy-bought-bought) a lot of pasalubong or gifts a few days before I traveled with my children there.  When I bought the gifts, I had gone (go-went-gone) to several markets and malls.  I had searched and searched (search-searched-searched) for different gift items until I found the perfect ones for my mother and relatives.  When I had found (find-found-found) the items, I was very happy because I was very tired already.

I had had (have-had-had) several bus stops before I reached my home town of San Antonio near Cabanatuan City.  I had had (have-had-had) several snacks from different towns because of these bus stops.  Before I reached my hometown, I had seen (see-saw-seen) the beautiful rice fields and mountains in the distance, while looking through the glass window.  While enjoying the sometimes bumpy ride, I had imagined (imagine-imagined-imagined) my childhood days, and how I will soon leave this beautiful province.  When I finally got to my home town, I had realized (realize-realized-realized) that I will always miss and never forget this place, my home town, San Antonio.

Past Perfect Progressive: had + been + verb-ing
Example: had been eating, had been talking
Exercise: Tell me about this morning.

This morning, I woke up at about 7 a.m..  I had been preparing breakfast when my children woke up and walked into the kitchen.  We had a good breakfast, and I had been talking about my husband when one of my kids told me how much he missed him.  My children had been missing their father since he went back to Canada last year.  I, too, miss him a lot, but I need to show to my children that I am strong, and that we will be together soon.  I had been planning for my husband’s vacation in May of this year, and we are all excited.  We had been eating breakfast when my mother and niece joined us.  They woke up a little later than us.

While we were practicing past tenses, my teacher noticed several accent errors common to Filipinos.  I know that I need to practice them over and over in order for me to improve.

ADDITIONAL PRACTICE FOR AMERICAN ACCENT

When I talk to my husband, I will ask him to practice with me.  I know I can say these phrases slowly, but my assignment is to do it naturally, that is, faster and without thinking about it.  This should be fun because I am doing it with my husband.

  1. F/P – I prepared breakfast for five people.
  2. F/P – Perfect Philippines.
  3. F/P – I’m a Filipino from the Philippines.
  4. V/B – Beaver Vibration
  5. V/B/F/Sh – Five Feverish Vibes
  6. TH – Bath, wrath, Cathy.  I gave Cathy a bath.
  7. SH/F/V – Wash, Fish.  I washed the fish five times.