Phoning it in

Posted: April 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

So, here’s one of a bajillion things we’ve had to work on in order to keep our relationship growing while living half our time a whole country apart.  Don’t worry, I promise I won’t blog on all bajillion.

THE PHONE, MY NEW FRIEND:  Typically, I loathe the phone.  I would rather use emails or texts or smoke signals…anything.  Mostly, I’d rather just talk face-to-face and Steve is exactly the same way.  But we’ve had to die to that in order to keep our relationship real and working during seasons of distance.  Here are the current ground rules I’ve set for myself, but they are ever-evolving (as I continue to learn most things the hard way):

  1. NO multi-tasking.   If I’m really busy when Steve calls, I try to get un-busy.  If that’s impossible, we schedule a time for a focused conversation.  Some of the worst moments I’ve had with my dearly beloved have come when we’ve tried to hang onto a call even though we’re too distracted to speak coherently to one another.  We talk off and on throughout the day – but mostly we send mushy texts and save the actual speaking for the evening.  When he calls, I go to our room and put the phone next to me on the bed on speaker phone and pretend he’s right there.  This, I’m embarrassed to admit, is a sacrifice for me.  I don’t like to sit down.  I like very much doing two things at once.  But it’s important and it works so I’m sticking with it.
  2. If possible, save tense topics for later.  The phone eliminates so many of our conversational signals like facial expressions and body language and so it’s tricky to have a discussion about tough stuff in a healthy and effective way.  The phone also eliminates our ability to kiss and make up at the end, so we try hard to avoid fighting on the phone.  Honestly, it’s not always possible.  Stuff comes up and it needs to be dealt with…but I”m finding out that most stuff will wait if I’m willing to let it.
  3. What I don’t say:  I’m beginning to understand that Steve feels really helpless when he’s away and it frustrates him.  When I raise issues on the phone that he’s unable to deal with from the Land of Florida, it only adds stress and loneliness to his already-demanding workload.  He doesn’t really need to know about every light bulb that goes out or every appliance on the fritz.
  4. What he mostly needs to know during our phone calls is that he is loved, appreciated and -this cannot be overemphasized – that we are fine.  And when I really think about it:  we are fine.  Sure, I’d love to have someone to help me pick the kids up from school and I’d love to not take the trash out myself, but we are a well-loved bunch o’ people here at Casa de Stern and it’s good for me to remember that.

Again, I’m still working this all out in my head and in practice.  Sometimes I break every ground rule in one phone call.  Sometimes I say exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time.  (And just between us, sometimes he does too.)  But the one thing we’re figuring out is that giant airplanes can fly on autopilot, but marriages can’t.  We have to fly this plane…at least 4 kids are watching to see how it’s done.

Behold:  Long distance calls no longer cost $1.25/minute!

  1. Cassie says:

    Oh Bo!

    LOVE THIS… so much….

    and i am SO GLAD long distance is not $1.25/minute!!!!!!!


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