Military spouses often have to spend tons of time apart. One couple gets super creative.
Distance is relative as long as you have a strong Wi-Fi connection.
Nick spent the first three years of his relationship with Stephanie stationed on a Pearl Harbor submarine.
The couple first met when he asked her for directions to a nearby restaurant and then invited her to join him.
The next day, she took him on a hike, then they went sightseeing. Each day, they spent more and more time together, planting the seeds for a romance that would blossom overseas.
Or rather, under it: Once Nick’s submarine began leaving port regularly, the tools and technology they’d come to rely on for their long-distance communication became tricky, a challenge that became even more difficult once Stephanie was deployed in Asia for six months.
These circumstances would be enough to put a strain on any relationship.
Thanks to resources like Skype and FaceTime and a strong commitment to making time to coordinate schedules and stick to it, they got through.
Hearing Nick call her his "bunny" at the end of the day was always worth it.
Despite the occasional weirdness with underwater scenarios, the access to various communication technologies kept bringing them together, and their relationship sailed on smoothly, through the sharing of funny animal videos and recalling the memories they’d made while walking hand in hand.
Stephanie and Nick's story is reflective of many military couples who find themselves placed physically apart.
When a romantic relationship exists solely over Wi-Fi and phone calls for months at a time, you come to rely pretty heavily on a virtual connection to sustain your love.
To meet this growing demand to keep couples together, a number of technologies have been developed, including Couple, which allows couples to send each other intimate notes, photos, and videos that disappear after being seen, and MyMilitaryLife, which helps those at home get supplies and advice they might need while their partner is deployed.
Thanks to a good international texting plan and a constantly growing number of Wi-Fi spots around the world, Stephanie and Nick’s connection to each other remains strong as ever.
Sometimes, it even allows them to experience things as if they were in the same room together.
They often watch movies at the same time and comment on the action as they would if they were sitting side by side on the couch. And on one occasion, Nick brought up the idea of building something with the same Lego set so they could feel like they were being creative together.
"Nick was always trying to think of things we could do over Skype together, so he sent me a small Lego set and bought himself one too," Stephanie recalls. "We put them together while on Skype one day."
The couple normally loves to do majorly physical activities when they’re together like going on long hikes and runs, so this was was just one small way for Nick to spark that same physical connection with Stephanie while they were so far apart.
Modern technology even allows them the chance to "travel the world together."
They got to go on an impromptu remote date while Nick was in Singapore.
"He and some friends used free Wi-Fi at a cafe in Clarke Quay, a fun riverside area popular there. So I got to people-watch and drink beers over Skype with him," she said.
Whether you’re in a military relationship or just a long-distance relationship, being away from the one you love is hard.
During a time of uncertainty, especially with heavy military action underway in the world, staying connected is important when we fear a loved one’s safety may be at risk.
We take it for granted now, but considering that years ago, people had to wait months to find out whether or not the people they cared for the most were still alive, being able to connect to the people we love with just one click is a gift.