Can Marriages Work When Spouses Live Apart? An Expert Weighs In

As many of us have already figured out, whether, through our own experiences or the ones we’ve observed, marriage is no joke. It seems like so many married couples (both young and old) end up calling it quits sooner or later. Marriage is already hard enough as it is when you live under the same roof, so what are the odds of success for spouses who are trying to make things work while living in different places? Can marriages work when spouses live apart? And if so, how on Earth would they manage to keep things running smoothly?

We spoke with licensed psychologist Dr. Wyatt Fisher to get his take on whether or not a happy and healthy marital relationship is possible when you don’t live together. “We all have certain things we need to feel loved and satisfied in a committed relationship, such as quality time, affection, emotional intimacy, adoration, sexual contact, etc,” Dr. Fisher tells us. And he’s right! These are all basic needs that our partners should be able to meet if we want our relationships to succeed.

As someone who was in a long-distance relationship for almost two years before my partner and I were finally able to move in together, I can say that technology helped a lot, especially when it came to spending quality time together and building emotional intimacy. But according to Dr. Fisher, technology has its limitations.

“Other [needs] such as affection and sex can only occur in person,” explains Dr. Fisher. “Therefore, if a couple is living apart, they still need to make time to be with one another a top priority.” Texting is great, but you can only send each other so many sexy pictures before the fun fade and you’re desperately counting down the days before you can wake up next to your bae again.

It’s also important to consider how long you’re planning to be separated from your spouse or living in different places. If you know it’s only for a set amount of time and you’re planning on moving in together after, or at least relocating to live in the same city, then it seems the marriage isn’t so different from any other long-distance relationship. But the truth is that no amount of FaceTime action can make up for the fact that you and your SO are missing out on the important things happening in each other’s daily lives. This is especially true if being apart is going to be a long-term arrangement, which Dr. Fisher warns against.

“Part of being married is sharing a life together under the same roof, not under two. It defeats the purpose,” says Dr. Fisher.

But if you and your spouse are trying to make it work through an indefinite period of time when you won’t be together, should you just give up now? Of course not! According to Dr. Fisher, while the success of the relationship in the long term might not be probable, he does say that it isn’t impossible. It may sound like a cliché, but anything is possible folks —especially if you are both willing and able to set aside enough time for one another IRL. If you and your spouse are going to be living apart for a pre-determined period of time, it’s important to go into things with realistic expectations of how often you will be able to spend time together.

“A long-distance relationship is not only logistically challenging, but it is also extremely psychologically challenging,” explained clinical psychologist and host of The Web Radio ShowJoshua Klapow, Ph.D. “If you and your partner struggle with communication, transparency, [or] if your expectations about how much you will be together are off… you will create a level of psychological tension in the relationship that ultimately will be its demise.”

It may be helpful to have a conversation with bae about your respective needs and expectations, so you both can come up with a strategy for scheduling quality time (either in person or via Skype). Making sure your communication habits are as strong as they can be leading up to a period of separation is also a good way to avoid unnecessary conflict later on down the line. Although not being together can be really tough, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on a marriage that is going well otherwise. As long as you are both willing to compromise, making it work is always possible!

 

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Zumping? Here’s What You Need To Know About The Latest Dating Trend

Ugh. Not another one.

What’s the worst way that someone could break up with you? Maybe it’s over a text message or in a voicemail? In most cases, we would prefer that our significant other dump us in person, because it seems like the appropriate thing to do.

But what happens when you can’t even see your partner, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and you decide that it’s time to call it quits?

Many people are turning to the closest alternative to in-person breakups during this time by scheduling a Zoom conference to dump their significant other.

This new form of breaking up, referred to as “zumping,” allows couples to see each other and their reactions without breaking any social distancing rules.

The word “zumped” is a combination of the words ”Zoom” and “dumped.” Although many couples now use Zoom or other video conferencing apps to host their dinner dates or even a wedding, a Zoom call could spell the end of a relationship for some couples.

For the person being dumped, “zumping” sounds like the worst possible breakup that you could imagine.

However, let’s play devil’s advocate for just a second here and look at this from the angle of the person who’s dumping their significant other.

If you decide that this relationship should end, but you’re unable to see your partner during this time of quarantine, then you can’t break up with them in person.

Of course, you could possibly wait until life goes back to normal, but why prolong a relationship if you know that it’s going to fail?

You don’t want to simply text them or slide into their DMs to say that it’s over, though, so what do you do? Well, as it turns out, you can “zump” them.

Does it sound awful? Yes, it does. But aren’t all breakups awful? And at least they had the guts to actually look you in the face while they did it, instead of opting for something like a phone call or a text.

And honestly, I’d rather have someone dump me over Zoom than to waste weeks of my life with them. I wouldn’t want to invest my time in a relationship if my partner has already checked out of it.

But do we really need a separate word to describe someone who’s dumping their partner over Zoom? Probably not.

There are millions of different ways that someone can dump you these days, and we don’t always create new terms for all of them.

Since “zumping” is a part of the pandemic, though, it is probably going to be here to stay. But at least now you know what it means.

 

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Here’s How To Have Safe FaceTime Sex

Sexting and exchanging nudes is fun, but it’s not always enough to get you off when you and your partner can’t be together IRL. More than sexy Snapchats — and even more than tried-and-true phone sex — FaceTime sex is the closest you can get to enjoying the real-time thrills of sex IRL, and it’s not just for committed couples. FaceTime sex with a casual partner can always be an option if you want it to be. But, like with in-person sex, safe FaceTime sex should always be a priority — especially when you’re doing it with someone you don’t know too well.

In a long-distance relationship, you and your SO already have an established foundation of trust. Partners can nurture intimacy for months, or even years, before going long-distance. But that trust might not exist with someone you’ve only known for a few weeks, or with someone you’ve never actually met IRL at all. That’s why it’s important to take safety precautions during sex — no matter what form it takes — just like you would with IRL f*ck buddies, flings, and one-night stands.

Keep these pro-tips in mind if you’re curious about how to have FaceTime sex safely.

Be Selective About What You Show

Moyo Studio/E+/Getty Images

Approach FaceTime sex the way you’d approach sending nudes. For one, don’t include your face in the frame. “Keep in mind that tattoos can also be big signifiers, so try to avoid having any of them in nude photos, too,” Gigi Engle, certified sex coach, and SKYN Sex and Intimacy Expert, tells Elite Daily.

Along with your face and tattoos, you’ll want to leave certain personal items or decorations out of the shot, too. “Whether FaceTiming or sending photos of any kind, be sure not to reveal identifying details in the background,” Alison Falk, a cybersecurity professional, and president of Women of Sextech, tells Elite Daily. “It’s extremely easy to determine the location of where people live and work when even the slightest details are exposed.”

If your cyber-sexual relationship develops beyond a one-night stand, you may not have to worry about hiding your face or tattoos in the future, but that might take some time. “Trust needs to be built before you engage in higher-risk sexting,” Dr. Chris Donaghue, a certified sex therapist and SKYN Sex and Intimacy Expert, tells Elite Daily.

Discuss Screenshots

While STDs, STIs, and pregnancy aren’t concerns that come with digital sex, it does pose its own risks: screenshots, screen recordings, and your partner possibly posting these nudes without consent. “These are things that don’t need to deter you, but you should discuss this possibility and talk about how violating it would be,” Engle explains. “It is sexual assault, as far as I’m concerned. Be open and honest that this would be completely not OK with you, and make sure they feel exactly the same way about it.”

No federal, anti-revenge porn law exists, says Falk. “So do everything possible to protect yourself legally.”

Forgo Alcohol & Other Substances

Dean Mitchell/E+/Getty Images

Make sure your mind is clear while engaging in FaceTime sex. If you enjoy indulging in some wine or other substances to take the edge off, consider abstaining prior to your cyber-sesh, says Engle, as they can impair your judgment and lead you to reveal more than you’re actually comfortable with. Especially if it’s your first time having FaceTime sex, leave the White Claws and weed behind.

Get Cryptic

When it comes to digital sex, privacy should be top-of-mind. “Do your homework first and be sure to use the right apps,” Falk says. “Everything is hackable. There is no bulletproof way to ensure 100% privacy with anything in our digital lives.” One encrypted app she recommends as an alternative to FaceTime or Zoom is Signal, which does have a video call feature. While you do still need to be wary of screenshots, Signal’s encryption protects you against hacking.

Make Sure You’re Comfortable

Charday Penn/E+/Getty Images

With both cybersex or sex IRL, trust is the name of the game. But discerning whether your dating app match is trustworthy can be tricky. “This isn’t someone you know very well, so you can’t make that kind of call,” Engle says. “There is no special formula for accessing whether someone is a creep or not.”

Likewise, while Donaghue acknowledges the benefits of online sexual expression, he urges against having FaceTime sex with people you’re not super comfortable with. “Emotionally, you want to be able to let your guard down and really enjoy the eroticism and arousal.”

Even though there’s no real way to tell whether your digital f*ck buddy is someone you can trust, you can ask all the right questions to make that judgment to the best of your ability. Discuss what they’ve done with screenshots during other forms of cybersex, like sexting. “Ask them what they did with pics they have been sent in the past from others, and if they ever share them,” Donaghue advises. “If they explain that they sext ethically and therefore delete after the sexting goal has been achieved — or the relationship ends — then that’s a good starting point.”

When you’re embarking on your sensual FaceTime adventures, remember that the same way dental dams, condoms, birth control, and frank conversations can help put you at ease, so can taking proactive steps toward safe FaceTime sex.

 

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Zoom Social Pressure Is Rising As The Novelty Wears Off

Remember a few weeks ago, when Zoom emerged as the digital solution to social distancing? All of a sudden, videoconferencing became not only a way to take meetings from home, but also a way to check in on friends, date, and even party. It was a golden age of Zoom happy hours, Zoom movie nights, Zoom brunches. But as we reach what feels like week 2,000 of social distancing, the mere sight of the illustrated blue app icon can conjure feelings of social anxiety.

As someone with a typically non-existent social calendar, I was surprised to find that it only took a global pandemic for people to start making plans with me. People who I never talked to on the phone before are sending me Zoom invitations to “catch up.” I even fielded an invite to a virtual poetry reading from my college’s alumni association. According to some fans-turned-fatigued users of the app, the same dread that once came with an overbooked social calendar now follows a packed Zoom meeting schedule.

“I’ve just come to the realization that if I wouldn’t entertain friends in my home every single night of the week IRL, I don’t need to do it on Zoom, either,” says Jeanne, 32, a first-time WFH employee. She adds that dealing with anxiety around coronavirus has made her “more tired and less interested in socializing than usual,” despite a short-lived affair with video-chat hangouts.

Dr. Hilarie Cash, PhD, LMHC, CSAT, WSGC, and founder of reSTART Life, a treatment center for digital addictions, is exhausted from “impersonal” online meetings herself. “We don’t quite look in each other’s eyes [on a video chat], or pick up the nuances of body language,” she tells Bustle. But most importantly, she points out, “We don’t get to experience limbic resonance — which is our birthright as social animals.” Limbic resonance is the energetic exchange that occurs with IRL interactions. “The in-person experience (if we feel safe and cared for) releases a bouquet of neurochemicals in our limbic brains that keeps us well regulated emotionally and physiologically.” Without it, Dr. Cash says, we don’t get to feel the satisfaction of being connected in the same way we do IRL.

Hailey, 21, who has worked from home for two years, says that she “feels guilty,” but she’s more interested in having some relaxing quarantine downtime. “If I accepted every virtual call or event or hangout I’ve been invited to, I could quite literally be busier than I was before.”

brittany packnett cunningham does not do remixes.

@MsPackyetti

As someone who had to spend sometimes 10 straight hours on Zoom before this pandemic, a piece of advice:

Always ask yourself what needs to be a meeting or what can be an email, a recorded message, or a deck that you send out.

8 back to back hours on a screen is not a life.

Melina, 33, tells Bustle that personal video calls are starting to feel invasive. “My home is my sacred space and having to constantly share it with others is starting to feel like boundary crossing, even when they are close friends.” Having to push the litter box out of frame or trying to shush her infant inconspicuously off screen is tiring. “I feel like I always have to be ‘on’. Knowing that my face is stretched across someone’s computer screen like a spotlight makes me feel like I have to exert a lot of energy to seem engaged, even more than in person,” Melina adds. But the most stressful part about accepting an invitation for a social Zoom meeting, according to Melina, is finding an excuse to hang up. “We’re all stuck at home with nothing to do, so there are limited reasons to end the call and it’s hard to find a nice way to do so.”

While everyone that I spoke to could recognize the privilege and utility that Zoom provides them professionally, they’re not looking to spend more time on the app than absolutely necessary. “Honestly, I just want to get the hell away from screens at the end of the day,” Jeanne says, despite her need and understanding of the desire for connection.

Isaac Fitzgerald🤞🏻🖤

@IsaacFitzgerald

Had a friend say they couldn’t make a zoom cocktail party because they have another one scheduled for that same time period so yes you can still feel unpopular during the apocalypse.

Contrary to the illusion that “face to face” screen time provides, Dr. Cash says it cannot evoke the level neurological connection we crave while we’re practicing social distancing, “and, therefore, it actually drains us rather than replenishing us.”

That said, seeing someone’s face is more neurologically stimulating than simply hearing their voicea 2013 study published in Cyberpsychology: Journal Of Psychosocial Research found. So instead of ignoring your friend’s noble attempts at fostering community during an isolating time, strike a balance; space out your social engagements, or feel free politely decline. It’s important to “manage the stress of isolation,” Dr. Cash says, so do whatever makes you feel most peaceful at home. If that’s opening up your living room to a gallery of digital faces every night, lean into that desire and socialize. But if that’s closing your screen at the end of the day and disengaging, that’s fine, too. Treat your virtual social life the same way you would treat your IRL social life.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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How To Have A Zoom Game Night

Now that the majority of the country is practicing social distancing, the way we entertain ourselves has drastically changed. Musicians are streaming concerts on YouTube, comedians are going live on Instagram, and people all over the world are using Zoom well after their work calls are over in order to spend time with loved ones. But if your video chat hangs are starting to feel a bit repetitive (read: You’re drinking way more wine than usual), a game night on Zoom may provide a much-needed reprieve.

“Using video conferencing technology to have fun, to engage with other people, and to connect socially, reminds us that we are not alone and that we have people there to support us,” Dr. Josh Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and associate professor of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tells phicklephilly.

Hopping on video chat can be a great way to feel less isolated. Folks everywhere are propping up their phones while they cook together, watch movies, or simply have conversations. But the fun of a game night, in particular, can make these quiet evenings seem a little less strange and a lot more nostalgic. Battling it out with friends might even ease coronavirus-related anxiety, at least for a little while, as you focus your mind elsewhere.

Here, a few ideas for ways to have a Zoom game night, so you can stay connected from afar.

1. Trivia Night

You may not be crammed into your favorite bar booth with five of your closest friends, but you can still recreate trivia night by playing together on Zoom. Start by assigning a host (like yourself) and coming up with questions. Aim for five or so categories, with about eight questions each.

From there, figure out how you’ll communicate. Each team will need a private space to whisper answers, like a breakout room, but you can all meet back in the main “bar” area on Zoom. Give everyone 30 seconds to deliberate, and then have them submit answers via DM.

Of course, as with any trivia night, you’ll want and need rules. Remind players to stay off Google, to put their phones down, and to only get answers from teammates — not their roommate, who is a fount of 90s music knowledge. And just like that, you’ll have recreated trivia night from the safety of your homes.

2. Punderdome

A rousing game of Punderdome can easily be played via Zoom. To begin, gather at least three people, ensure that someone (again, probably you) has the deck of cards, and spend an evening making awful jokes.

To play, the “prompter” draws two cards from the deck and then reads them out to the rest of the group. Everyone has 90 seconds to create the worst pun they can come up with that combines the two prompts.

The prompter then chooses the pun they like best. The first person who gets 10 pairs of cards wins!

3. What Do You Meme

The “adult party game for meme lovers” is another one you can play from afar. If you’d like to show your cards, simply angle your camera so everyone can see what’s on the table. Get creative with this, and it’ll feel much more interactive.

What Do You Meme is all about matching up photo cards with caption cards to create your own meme. Similar to Cards Against Humanity (we’ve all played that, right?), the winning puns will come down to personal preference and can lead to heated debates over what’s funny and what isn’t.

Since you can only play with up to six people, it’s a great game to try on video chat without feeling too overwhelmed. Drinks, snacks, and other social distancing comfort optional.

4. Truth Or Dare

This classic game is a fun one to try from the privacy of your own home and can be played with as many people as you like. Ask your friends “truth” questions to learn more about each other, or go for a “dare” if your goal is to crack each other up. The possibilities are endless, as long as they all involve staying inside.

5. Charades

In case you need a reminder, charades is that game where you act out a word or phrase without speaking, and your teammates have to guess what it is. To do it over Zoom, simply move your camera when it’s your turn, so everyone can see what you’re doing.

You’ll need two teams, a list of suggestions, and a timer. Each person will get a chance to act out their word, while their team tries to figure it out. You might get something like “gardening,” at which point you’ll get down on your hands and knees, dig in the dirt, plant flowers, etc. Use your imagination.

You can’t, of course, mouth the answer, make noise, or use items in your room as clues. That’s some hardcore charades cheating, right there. But you can think back to your high school theater arts class, and put your old miming skills to work.

6. Dungeons & Dragons

The cool thing about D&D is it’s an imagination-based game, making it something you can easily play on Zoom until you can meet up with your friends in real life.

The majority of the work will fall on the game master (probably you) since it’ll be important to consider ways to keep everyone involved. But it can be done! Just pretend you’re all sitting around the same table, as per usual, and continue your story.

If a player needs dice to roll, they can do so online with a quick Google search. There are also fancy virtual tabletops you can try out. But you may want to keep things simple, especially if you aren’t too experienced with the game or have never tried it before, and stick to fun, light-hearted role-playing.

7. Mind Meld

Have all your friends sign on to Zoom, then take turns going in a circle while trying to “meld minds,” aka say the exact same word at the exact same time.

Two players will start by counting down from three and then saying any word that comes to mind. One player then turns to the person “next to them,” and they count down from three, then say a word that the two previous words made them think of. And so on.

It’s basically a game of word association, and if you play it right — where no one’s trying to be funny or saying random things just for a laugh — you will eventually hone in on the same word, and it’ll feel like magic.

8. Never Have I Ever

This is a classic drinking game that can be played with or without alcohol over video chat.

Have everyone hold up their hand as players take turns sharing something they’ve never done before. If someone in the circle has done it, they put a finger down (or take a drink). Go for spicy questions to keep things interesting, and to make it less likely that everyone’s done it.

Ideas: Never have I ever fainted. Never have I ever bungee jumped. Never have I ever had a paranormal experience. Never have I ever had a one-night stand.

The person with the most fingers remaining up at the end wins!

9. Quiplash

The rules of Quiplash are super easy, as there are no rules or correct answers. All you do is answer prompts within the game, then everyone votes on the wittiest answers.

According to the game’s creators, you can play with up to eight of your friends, as well as up to 10,000 participants in the in app “Audience.” Playing on a stream? Your viewers can join in and participate in the game, too.

10. 21 Questions

Woman using a laptop in the night sitting on a couch in the living room at home
Shutterstock

Get to know your friends even better by playing a game of 21 Questions. To get things started, have everyone come up with a list of 21 Qs, then roll a die, and have the person with the lower number answer first.

The person who is asking should start with easy questions, like, “What did you have for breakfast this morning?” Then move onto ones that are more risqué, if your friends are OK with that.

You can ask “what if?” questions, pose interesting scenarios, ask about dreams and fears — or whatever else sounds fun.

11. Two Truths & A Lie

Two Trusts & A Lie is another party game that focuses on telling, well, two truths and a lie. Each player will have a chance to share two facts about themselves plus something that’s entirely made up, and the goal is to correctly guess which one is the lie.

To throw everyone off, choose two truths about yourself that people might not know, or two things that seem a bit outlandish or out of character for you. Mix those in at random with a lie, which can be equally outlandish, and chances are everyone will have a hard time figuring it out!

12. Read My Lips

To play Read My Lips, have the person who is “it” turn off their microphone. They will then say a series of words in a given amount of time while everyone else reads their lips and writes down what they think they’re saying. The person with the most correct guesses is the obvious winner.

13. Pass It Along

This game is all about creating a story together, one sentence at a time. Start the story, then pass it off to another friend who will add the next sentence, then someone else will add the third sentence, and keep going until it feels like the tale has reached a natural conclusion.

You can be as serious or as silly as you want, but think about the plot, remember to add in characters and details, so the story is interesting. Try to recall what was said before you and work together to create a narrative with rising action.

For an added element, record the story and listen back afterward to hear back how utterly ridiculous it was.

14. Scavenger Hunt

If you’re hosting this event, create a list of things people may (or may not) have around their apartment. Add everyday items to the list, like a coffee mug or a box of pasta, as well as a few unique items, like an antique watch or a Slinky. Set a timer, share the list, and see who can come rushing back to Zoom with the most items on the list.

15. Drawing Challenge

Pick a category, form teams of two, and have one person from each team do a Google image search of abstract shapes or pieces of art that fall within the category.

Go into Zoom breakout rooms so you won’t be talking over each other, and then be as specific as possible as you describe the image to your partner, so they have a better shot at drawing it on a piece of paper, with paint — whatever medium you’ll all be using.

Give everyone five minutes to draw, then come back into the main chat and vote on the winner.

16. Last Letter

If you’d like to keep your brain sharp during this time of social distancing, play Last Letter with your friends. All you need to do is choose a category — ’90s movies, flowers, states, colors, etc. — and say a word within that category. The next person will say a word that starts with the last letter of your word, and on and on you’ll go until someone comes up blank. That person will then sit out the next round. Keep playing until only one player is left standing.

17. Would You Rather?

Ask each other “would you rather” type questions, such as “Would you rather have really long arms or really long legs?” or “Would you rather have super strength or super speed?” Be creative and have fun!

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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