Trust me when I say this wasn’t what I signed up for when I exchanged vows all those years ago. But it is my reality right now, and I don’t like it one bit. Admittedly, the world as we know it isn’t how we knew it a few short months ago. So this is why we live apart together as expats.
Why we live apart together as expats
Nobody should have to decide between their partner and their children, but it was a decision I had to make and make it pretty quickly. We knew the borders were going to close soon, so we (meaning my husband and me) had to make a decision pretty quickly. He was not able to leave Singapore due to work commitments, and so I had to fly solo. The kids couldn’t travel to Singapore because they (at the time anyway) had work, university and school commitments, so I had to choose.
My husband was the one that suggested I leave ASAP, but it was hard to leave him behind, knowing that I have no idea when I will see him again. Sure you may think this sounds melodramatic (and maybe it is) but with the government in both Singapore and Australia not giving any real timeline. I have no idea when I will be able to travel to Singapore again, or if my husband can come to see us all here.
I know other expats are in the same boat or they have had to live apart at one time or another. The longer you live abroad, the harder it becomes at times. What people don’t realise is that living apart doesn’t necessarily mean you are separating (there is a difference). Live apart together (LAT) is an actual thing.
How do you make Live Apart Together (LAT) work?
So I guess technically right now, we are in some sort of long-distance relationship, in a Live apart together scenario. So we are ensuring that we have some ground rules in place to make it work.
1- Lines of communication are always open
Long-distance relationships are complicated at the best of times, but throw in a time difference and life becomes a little more complicated. We have our morning video call and usually instigated by my husband, who is a few hours behind in time. Then I often call before bed. However, there are probably more than a few conversations during the day, via text, email or phone call.
2- Include each other in our daily life
Whether it is me calling him during our family mealtime, or him calling me as he is going out for a walk. Either way, they would be things we would typically be doing together, so technology allows us to be part of each other’s daily life, even though we are living apart.
3- Spending time together is important
You should try and Spend time together while apart as it is imperative to keeping the relationship together! It is easy to start living a life outside of your relationship, being without each other all the time. It is normal to build relationships where you are; it is common and healthy. But when those relationships take over, and you have no time for your distance relationship, then there is a problem.
It is easy to think all doom and gloom when you are miles apart from your best friend. But you need to keep positive; you know that this is just a stage (even if you haven’t got a real end date in place). You do know it isn’t forever, so get through it with positive thoughts.
Exercise might sound ridiculous as a survival tool, but getting those endorphins going does put your head in a different (positive) space. Encourage each other to be getting out and exercising so that you can both feel positive about the situation. Better still workout together via facetime!!!
It is normal to feel anxious about living apart together?.
You wouldn’t be the first to feel anxious about this unusual situation, but you need to talk to each other as much as possible about it. You will not often be on the same page at the same time with your feelings, but you should take the time to listen and consider the other person’s feelings. Whether one is feeling anxious, scared, lonely or sad, the other needs to be there to comfort them. Like they would be if they were under the same roof.
Why are people choosing to live apart together (LAT)
Other people (not just expats) are choosing to LAT, and there are many reasons why.
- For education purposes
- For children’s education purposes
- Elderly parents
- Short term assignments
- Remote work
Does Living apart together work?
I am not sure if this is something we could sustain forever, we know it is not forever, so I think that is why for us, it works. We are only doing it for the kids, especially while they are school-aged. I miss him too much to have this as a permanent solution.
Is it healthy for couples to live apart?
I can only say that if you have a stable relationship and that you are honest with each other through the entire process, yes it can be healthy. Spending time apart allows us to appreciate each other even more, and yes, it is healthy to miss the other person.