A couple weeks ago, I was feeling rather disconnected from Pete. I had been looking forward to spending time with him this spring, but with all the drama around the world it seemed like that was not going to happen. If I’m being completely honest, I was actually heartbroken. I have been missing him so much since I last saw him in January. Four years as a long distance relationship had finally gotten to both of us and our days of just texting and calling each other weren’t enough anymore.
After seeing a bunch of these social media challenges, I decided to start my own with him. I asked if he’d be down to do a 15 day relationship challenge. He said he was, so I started planning out what each day’s challenge would be. Then I thought, why not share them with everyone who’s possibly going through the same issues we are! So that’s how the @aloveacrosstheocean #LDRChallenge started. And it makes me so happy to see so many of you following along and sharing your results!
So for those of you reading that don’t follow our Instagram (@aloveacrosstheocean) or missed the challenge itself, here are all 15 Challenges.
Day 1 - List 5 things you love about your partner and share with them.
5 things I love about Pete. Where to start! Meeting Pete has been one of the best things that has happened to me. There’s so much I love about him I had a hard time narrowing it down to just 5, but here are the top 5 on my list;
Day 2 - Look through old photos of you and your partner together and pick 3 to share with your partner. Think of the reasons why those are your favorite.
Again, there are so many photos I love of us, but I had to narrow them down to the top 3.
The first one is from Pete’s first trip to Arizona. The night we took this photo, we met up with my siblings and best friends. We went to Top Golf in Scottsdale, then had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and ended up bar hopping around Old Town Scottsdale. It was so much fun and it made me happy to see my best friends got along so well with him.
The second photo is from my first time visiting Pete in England. He knew how much I love ruins and architecture so he planned on stopping by Stonehenge on our way to his hometown. After doing some typical tourist things, we went out to a few pubs and had the best time.
And the third photo is from our family road trip to the Grand Canyon. Being a native of Arizona, you would think I had visited the Grand Canyon many times, but you’d be wrong. I had never stepped foot near this wonder of the world. Pete and I planned this Arizona road trip, but my family ended up joining us and it was so much fun! Pete looked so happy the entire time and I think that’s part of what makes this photo ones of my favorites.
Day 3 - Pick a song you'd like to dedicate to your partner and send the link to them.
The song I picked for Pete is Never Felt A Love Like This by Galantis. I picked this song because the title says it all. I’ve loved before, but I have never loved anyone the way I love Pete. As cheesy as it sounds, my love for him feels magical. Choosing to fall in love with him has definitely been the greatest adventure of my life. So like the title of the song says, I’ve never felt a love like this before.
Day 4 - Make a small 5 song playlist for your partner and send it to them.
I made a 5 song playlist for Pete on Spotify that included the following songs;
Each song I picked had lyrics that spoke to my heart and I knew Pete would understand why I sent those songs.
Day 5 - Think about 2 things that bring you the most joy in your relationship. Share with your partner.
There’s definitely more than just two things in our relationship that bring me joy, but the top two are getting to explore new places and trying new things together. As I mentioned before, my relationship with Pete has been an adventure from day one. I’ve experienced so many things for the first time with him and that includes exploring places I never thought I’d see and trying things I never even considered trying. The second biggest joy is seeing him happy and smiling. Whenever we’re out with friends and he’s telling a story or reminiscing about the good old days, laughing and singing. Just being happy in general makes my heart fill with so much joy.
Day 6 - Think about your first year together. What are 3 memories that stand out the most? Share with your partner.
Thinking back to our first year together, three of the memories that stand out the most are firstly, falling in love with him before I actually met him. Getting to know him for about 6 months before we were actually physically in the same place is pretty memorable. Definitely our first few days together. We spent 3 days in Las Vegas, where he booked us a lovely suite at the MGM and we explored so much of Vegas and drank way too much, it’s surprising we even remember those days! And the third would be one of the days we didn’t do anything. We just ordered food, watched tv and hung out at home all day. It was the first most normal day we had and it was amazing.
Day 7 - List 3 ways your partner has made a difference in your life
Three ways Pete has made a difference in my life, well for starters, he’s gotten me out of my comfort zone. He’s opened me up to new experiences and made me realize things don’t always have to be so perfect. I’ve become a more ambitious person. I find myself striving to be better not just for myself, but also for him. A better person and better partner. And he’s taught me to be more selfless. I’ve always been a giver, but I’ve always thought about what’s best for me and only me. Now all my thoughts are about the both of us. What will be best for us in the long run.
Day 8 - Hand write a poem or a love letter to your partner, take a photo and send it to them.
I will admit I cheated a little bit. I got inspiration from a poem I had read a while ago, but stuck to me. I guess the universe knew it would be the perfect words I’d need one day. Here’s a photo of my writing to Pete.
Day 9 - Plan a vacation together. Anywhere in the world you two would like to go. Research the logistics, budget, and set a date for a year from now.
Since we always plan at least one trip each time we see each other we decided to skip this challenge. Instead, we had a movie date. We watched a movie together on Netflix and just talked about places we’d like to go once this whole pandemic calms it’s tits down and lets us get back to seeing each other. But some of the places we’d like to visit are Greece & Croatia. We’re hoping we can go to either one sometime next year.
Day 10 - Share a goal you have for your relationship.
At the moment, we both have the same goal; To see each other as soon as possible. It’s been 3 months since the last time we spent time together. It might not be the longest we’ve gone without seeing each other, but it’s been 4 years of this and we’re ready to close the distance as soon as possible. (More on this closing the distance in a new post coming soon!)
Day 11 - Send your partner a romantic good morning text and a selfie of you.
I am a romantic at heart, so I’m always sending Pete romantic good morning texts and mailing him cards. So it wasn’t hard for me to write him a long text wishing him a good morning and letting him know how much I miss waking up next to him and blah blah blah...I can get super cheesy. And he knows it. :) Pete on the other hand, he’s a Gemini. Gemini aren’t known for being romantic. So when I woke up to the loveliest good morning text from him, it literally made me tear up a bit. He completely surprised me.
Day 12 - What is one thing about your partner, you've discovered that you absolutely love about them? One thing you dislike?
I love so many things about Pete, but I absolutely love that he’s more than just my boyfriend. He’s become my best friend. The only one I want to share literally everything with. I want to enjoy all the things the world has to offer by his side. I want to fight, make up and sit quietly on the couch and do nothing with him. He’s my person.
However, the one thing I dislike about him is his lack of patience. He can get frustrated and annoyed with things pretty quickly and instead of talking them through he tends to “walk away”. And that’s been really hard on me because he will go to sleep after a fight and I get to wait up another 6-8 hours overthinking about why things went the way they did. Second guessing things I said and assuming things. Which let me tell ya, is the worst. Never assume! You’ll only give yourself anxiety.
Day 13 - Future thoughts: Imagine 40 years have gone by, what do you see you and your partner doing?
Imagining us together 40 years from now made me really happy. I’m glad I can imagine a future with Pete. In 40 years, we’ll be in our mid 70s. Retired and living in a nice little house/cottage by the sea with a big garden for our 3 dogs. God willing, we’ll have a couple kids and we’ll be in good enough health to still travel around and explore more places together.
Day 14 - Surprise your partner with a small, but significant gift.
I actually sent him a little something a few days before our Day 14 challenge. He had been home for a week and was starting to go a big crazy so I decided to sweeten his day by having a cheesecake delivered to him. Something small but significant.
Day 15 - Choose your favorite photo of your partner, think about the reasons you're grateful to have them in your life and dedicate a social media post to them.
I have a lot of photos of Pete by himself, and I love all of them, but one of my favorite ones is one I took of him the day I had to drop him off at the airport to head back to England after his first trip to visit me. It was New Years Eve and we spent 7 hours driving from Phoenix to Santa Monica, had a meal at Bubba Gumps and walked on the pier. I can’t remember what I said but it made him smile and look down which gave me this perfect shot. I actually have this photo framed and on my nightstand. I get to look at it every day when I wake up and when I go to bed. It reminds me of how grateful I am to have found such an amazing man to share my life with. Even if we’re temporarily separated.
So now, how do I feel after 15 days of doing the relationship challenge? In all honesty, I didn’t really think the challenge was going to do much to help us reconnect, especially because a lot of the challenges seemed a bit repetitive, but I think it’s actually what helped the most. Constantly making us think about why we fell in love with each other in the first place and why we continue to choose each other despite all the challenges and obstacles we face on a daily basis. I think if the love wasn’t real, we would have given up a long time ago. Who wants to feel lonely 80% of the time? Who wants to constantly feel like a part of them is missing? No one really, right? But I think that when you really truly love someone, you try and look for ways to make it work. You don’t easily give up on the opportunity of having that happily ever after.
Follow us on Instagram @aloveacrosstheocean for daily updates on #LongDistanceRelationships and ways to keep connected!
In one of my previous posts, “Long Distance Relationship and its Biggest Challenge”, I mentioned some of the costs associated with the immigration bits of being in a LDR. However, the financial aspect of it is not the only headache. At least it hasn't been for me. I was born in Mexico, but brought to the United States at a very young age. I got my Permanent Resident Card, also known as a “Green Card” through my father’s sponsorship. I’ve lived a normal American life since childhood and never thought becoming a US Citizen would be a necessity for me.
Even when I first met Pete almost 4 years ago, I didn’t realize how important being a US Citizen would be. In the beginning, when we first started speaking, I honestly didn’t think we’d come this far. I liked him a lot, but never saw it being more than a fun virtual fling, so telling him I wasn’t indeed an American Citizen wasn’t a big deal to me. But one night out in Las Vegas, after a few too many 1¢ beers at Margaritaville, I felt the need to tell him. I drunkenly broke down crying and told him there was something I needed to tell him and that I hoped that wouldn’t change the way he felt about me.
There was this terrified look in his eyes, which made me think he wasn’t going to take it so well. When I finally spilled out that I wasn’t and the reason behind me not saying so from the beginning, he laughed and said “that’s it? I thought you were going to tell me you were married! Or worse!” With a sigh of relief I kissed him and we went on with our day.
Now, the rules of immigration are different for US Citizens (people born in the US) and Permanent Residents (people who legally immigrate to the US).
With our original plan of Pete moving to the US, you see how it was important for me to be honest with him about my status in the US. And the reason I was freaking out about it. But that changed when I decided it would be best for us to start our lives in England. Pete has a great military career and I only see him growing, advancing and becoming a great leader in the years to come. So it seemed more sensible to have him finish his contract. At which point, we would circle back and decide if moving to the US would be a good option for us.
Now, once we started looking into the visas needed for me to move to the UK we found that it was a bit easier, but I also risked losing my status in the US. See, when you’re a permanent resident in the US, you’re only allowed to be out of the country for a maximum of 6 months without losing your status, unless you file for a reentry permit, which I just found out as I was writing this post.
Last September I filed for my US Citizenship. In October, I had my first appointment to take biometrics and at the end of November, I got my letter with the appointment for my interview in January. On January 14th I walked into the USCIS office in Phoenix, Arizona. Nervous as hell and waited to be called into a room. During my interview, I was asked about my federal and state tax liabilities. In my application I had written down that I had indeed failed to pay my taxes for a couple years when I first became self employed. Not because I was avoiding paying them, but because as a small business I was barely making enough to sustain myself. I had made a big payment and had a payment agreement with the IRS and the State for the remaining balance and thought that would be enough.
Little did I know how much owing taxes would affect my citizenship application. A few weeks ago, I received the anticipated letter from the USCIS. At first, I was excited, I couldn’t wait to open and see my ceremony date on that letter. But as I opened the letter, I noticed it was thicker and had more writing than I thought would be needed...Then I read, in big bold letters “Decision”. My heart sank. I felt a knot in my throat and as I continued reading, I saw “USCIS has determined that you are not eligible for naturalization”. According to the letter, because I failed to file my taxes on time and because the amount I wrote down on my initial application and what their system was showing didn’t match, I was not a person with good moral character.
I was devastated. But still hopeful. You’re allowed to file a request for a hearing. Which I’m now working on. What they don’t tell you on the letter is that filing the request will cost another $700. Unless you can prove you’re going through financial hardship and apply to get the fee waived.
With the help and support of Pete and my family, I got out of my little depression and have been working my bum off to get things sorted. I’ve hired an attorney to help me and I am about to file my request for a hearing. As much as I felt like giving up on the process and at times even my relationship, I remembered I was a fighter not a quitter. Per the firm I hired. I should be able to get my case resolved in about 3-4 months. So now we play the waiting game again.
Will be updating you on how things are going as I get updated information and I’ve had time to process it. Stay safe!
Back around the end of October, a casting firm from New York reached out wanting to talk about a new docu-series that was in the works with an undisclosed network. I emailed with one of the assistants a few times, filled out a questionnaire and sent some photos of Pete & I. Then I was scheduled for what I thought would be a quick skype meeting with the casting director. Little did I know it was a full on interview via FaceTime. He had me move my laptop in a way that I was showing on the right side of the screen with enough room on the left for those little titles they do on reality shows. I got so nervous but also excited about talking about my LDR story.
After about an hour of being interviewed, he said everything looked good and that he would like to schedule a time to do the interview with Pete as well. When I first brought it up to Pete, he wasn’t at all dismissive of the idea. He actually encouraged me to reply to the initial email to get more information. However, when the time came for him to “go on camera” he got camera shy and decided it wasn’t for us. I’m not gonna lie. I was really bummed out that Pete didn’t want to go through with the hour interview.
It took me a few days to completely get over it. But then the director kept calling me and emailing me and I was so embarrassed to tell him Pete changed his mind that I just ignored his calls and emails. I still, to this day feel terribly bad about it, but there’s not much I can do now! I am still unsure about what network it is and what the docuseries is about, but I think Pete & I would have been great on TV together!
Goodbye 15 minutes of fame! *tear*
If you were ever contacted to be in a reality TV series, would you?
When I started this blog post, my intention was to write about the top 3-5 biggest challenges couples in long distance relationships face, but as the weeks went on it started to write itself into what it is now. And yes it really did take me weeks to finish it. Probably about 2.5 weeks, as I was going through a challenging part of my very own LDR. So it’s more personal than I wanted it to be. But figured that if I am running into these challenges, there’s probably others out there facing the same issues.
Pete and I are about to hit our 4 year mark. For me personally, it’s a big deal. Before Pete, my longest relationship was about 9 months. And to be honest, it wasn’t much of a relationship. So to be with someone for 4 years and in a very long distance relationship is a big milestone for me.
The last 6 months or so, it’s been especially difficult. I think the distance has finally gotten to me and it doesn’t help seeing family and friends moving on to the next step in their lives. It makes me feel like I’m at a standstill. Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy for everyone. I celebrate their accomplishments, their new homes, their engagements, weddings and new additions to the family.
But being happy for them, doesn’t stop me from getting extremely frustrated and feeling like I’m missing out on things. I feel ready to start living my life with Pete, but because we are from two different countries, it’s impossible to do what normal couples do and just move in together. We have so much we need to do before that happens.
Did you know that the average cost of a wedding in America is $30,000 USD? Yeah, it’s insane. We actually tried to plan a small Vegas wedding and we set our budget at $5,000. Once we got to actually putting together the invite list, making reservations and getting contracts ready, our total ended up being $18,689. That didn’t include hotel accommodation, my wedding dress, hair and makeup, his tux, shoes, transportation, etc… So we decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and opted to just elope and have a small backyard celebration at some point.
2. We have to apply for a spouse visa.
Applying from outside the UK it’s £1,523 ($,1973.04 USD)
Applying from within the UK it’s $£1,033 ($1,338.25 USD)
Average cost of US Visas is $1200 plus any attorney fees, if needed.
I’ve only briefly looked into the process, but it seems it’s easier to get a spouse visa for the UK than it is for the United States.
3. We have to plan and save money for a move halfway across the world.
Moving in general can be expensive and a complete pain in the ass. Now, imagine a move across the world. Do you budget to move all your belongings through an international moving company or do you get rid of everything and start new? Both options seem on the expensive side to me. I have a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath home fully furnished with things I bought with my hard earned money. If I pack it all up it’ll cost me a fortune to get it shipped. So what I’ve decided to do is little by little start selling things online or asking my friends and family if there are any items they’d like to keep. The things with more sentimental value, I will be storing at my parent’s house, just in case one day I decide I want them. Or when and if Pete & I decide to move back.
4. I have a dog that I am not leaving behind, so have to budget his travel documents into that too.
For those of you reading this that know me personally, you know my dog, Dallas, is world. Well, he shares the spot with Pete. But really, I love that little RatBat so much. He’s now 8 years old and he’s been by my side through some of the most challenging times. In fact, he was only 4 weeks old when I picked him up. I know I know, you’re not supposed to separate puppies from their moms until 8 weeks, but the lady was desperate to get rid of the puppies and when I saw him it was love at first sight. Anyway, Did you know that if you bring your pet to the UK without following procedure they will get put into quarantine? Yeah, up to 4 months I believe. So I can definitely not do that to my stinker. He would die of sadness. So I have to get him a Pet passport, get him microchipped and then get all his vaccinations after. Even though he’s up to date on his, if you put a microchip in your pet after he is vaccinated, you have to vaccinate again. So taking him to an approved vet, getting his pet passport, getting his travel airline approved kennel, and paying for him to fly is something I will need to budget into our big move.
The last 4 years have been tough on our wallets as it is. It’s not cheap being in a LDR. Each time we’ve seen each other we’ve spent on average $5,500. If you add it all up, with 3 trips a year, that’s about $16,650. Times 4 years that’s a total of $66,600. If we lived in the same country, we could have saved up that money for a down payment on our first house, a big fancy wedding, a big trip or even to start a new business. But instead, anything that we can manage to save, has been spent on seeing each other. If it wasn’t for the sacrifices we’ve made, then we wouldn’t be in a relationship.
So if I had to list the biggest challenges that we’ve come across, I would say they are the following;
1. Keep Things Honest
We’ve all heard that honesty is the best policy. It’s especially true when you’re in a long distance relationship. Be honest about your intentions, your feelings, your future aspirations, and everything else in between. You not only want to be honest with your significant other, but also with yourself.
2. Learn Each Other’s Love Language
Author Gary Chapman wrote The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. The book details the 5 different ways people love differently. We each “express and experience” love. It’s helpful to learn your significant other’s love language so that you can make them feel loved the way they want to be loved. The Love Languages are Quality Time, Acts of Service, Works of Affirmation, Physical Touch and Receiving Gifts. Which one do you think is yours? You can find out by taking the Love Language Quiz.
3. Never Walk Away From An Argument
Not all arguments are bad. Arguments in my experience, show that both are willing to keep fighting for one another. But, when you do argue, never walk away from your significant other mid fight. And don’t shout, yell, talk over your partner, use harsh language or physical treats. Instead, take a deep breath to help you calm down, which will help you think more clearly and helps your partner understand what you’re trying to say. Always work on fixing whatever the issue is before you go to bed because you never want to go to sleep wondering where you stand with your loved one.
4. Learn to Compromise
You and your partner are two different people. You each have different likes and ways of doing things. So it’s only natural that you bump heads when it comes to making decisions. The best way to come to an agreement is to compromise.
5. Respect One Another
Respect plays a big role in every relationship. You need to respect your relationship, respect your partner and most importantly, respect yourself.
6. Appreciate Each Other
Appreciate the little things. When you’re far apart from each other, it’s hard to show how much you appreciate your partner, but there are different ways to let them know. For example, sending them a text thanking them for dealing with the distance. Or a dropping a postcard in the mail with a note of appreciation. Even calling them before bed to let them know you are thinking of them.
I personally love using TouchNote to send postcards on special dates or just because. In a world filled with technology, it’s always nice to go old school and send something in the mail.
7. Most importantly, Trust & Love Each Other
When it comes to relationships, a lot of people have a hard time trusting due to past traumas. And in a LDR the lack of trust multiplies because of the distance. You have the choice to trust your partner and love them unconditionally. If the trust isn’t there, then it makes being in a LDR very difficult for both. One of you will always wonder about the other and the other will always feel like they have to tiptoe around everything they do because they’ll be afraid of losing the trust.
These are just a few ways I believe you can build a lasting long distance relationship. Every couple is different and has different situations going on in their lives. If you have any tips on how to build a lasting relationship, please feel free to message us or write it down in the comments. We look forward to your feedback!