SALT LAKE CITY, June 21, 2013 — Dear Angela,
My girlfriend will be leaving to serve an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in about a month. She and I have been dating for about six months and I want to marry her. I served a mission already, and I know that it is a wonderful life experience, but I fear and am sure that while she’s away we’ll grow apart and we’ll miss our opportunity to be together. Furthermore, she does not have to go on this mission; do you think it’s unfair for me to ask her not to go?
Sincerely, Please Stay
Dear Please Stay,
Instead of flat out asking her not to go, why don’t you tell her exactly how you feel and work on creating a solution together?
In your question you wrote that you’re “sure that while she’s away [you’ll] grow apart and [you’ll] miss [your] opportunity to be together.” This statement is so sad and it doesn’t have to be true. In fact, if you two decide you want to make it work, you can.
When it comes to being away from the one you love, 18 months can feel like an eternity. But it’s not an eternity; it’s 18 months, and at the end of those 18 months she will have spent the time serving, and helping, and learning and you will have spent your time doing what you love to do, ______.
Whatever you fill that blank with will make all of the difference. Choose activities that help you to grow and improve and be sure to have meaningful experiences with the people around you. Find time to write your girlfriend, not necessarily lovey-dovey style letters but supportive, encouraging and motivational thoughts.
You two will be living different lives and it will be difficult at times, but in a way, you’ll be on the journey together.
Remember, A Mission — or a period of distance — is not a relationship death sentence unless you decide that it is. Be patient, be creative and, most of all, be hopeful.
Readers: Have you ever spent a significant amount of time away from the person that you love? How did you cope? What helped your relationship to survive?
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