From Michael Weiss' Smucker's Stars on Ice blog.
Being apart from your sweetheart is hard enough over the holidays. We hear a lot about long-distance love from Thanksgiving to New Year's. But so many people live separately from their significant others all year long because of jobs and many other circumstances.
One of those people is Olympic figure skater Michael Weiss. He's a three-time national ice skating champion; he was on the U.S. Olympic team twice; and now he's heading out of town to skate in Smucker's Stars on Ice which kicks off on Jan. 23 in Spokane, Wa.
This morning, he gives us tips on keeping his longtime marriage to Lisa strong--and on staying close to their two kids, Christopher and Annie Mae, when he's on the ice.
Cafe Kristen: Hi Michael, how often are you away from your family?
Michael Weiss: My skating season is from October to May. I am away from home on and off during October, November and December. Then I'm gone most of the time from January through May with Smucker's Stars on Ice. Whenever I have a day off on tour, I make the flight home, just to get a day or two with the family. When I am in a city that I know the kids and Lisa will enjoy, I will fly them in to spend a long weekend with me.
CK: What are some of the challenges of being away for long periods of time?
MW: The most difficult thing for me is when something bad happens to one of the kids, like a scraped knee, a bad test at school or a lost soccer game. I really want to be there to help them through the hard times. Also, the amount of attention the children get is cut in half when I am gone. Lisa and I spend a lot of quality time with them individually and together. When I am gone, there is only Lisa to spread her attention.
CK: How do you and Lisa keep passion alive when you're apart?
MW: It is difficult, but I do come home often, and make sure she and I get alone time together. Each year, I bring Lisa on the tour alone so the two of us can make sure our relationship gets the attention it needs. We also spend a lot of time on the phone usually 1 to 2 hours a day. She updates me on all of the activities going on at home. Staying involved in each other's day-to-day ups and downs allows you to stay close emotionally too.
CK: How do you deal with missing your children and your children missing you?
MW: I try to maintain a big presence, even when I am gone. I will take pictures on the road, and email them. I also alternate nights of putting them to bed over the phone. It's actually pretty fun! I will read them a story or they will read to me. And we talk about the things that happened that day. My daughter will talk my ear off!! She can easily keep me on the phone for 45 minutes when she should have gone to bed after 20 minutes.
CK: What advice do you have for other couples who are apart for long periods of time? For example, we have a lot of readers who have husbands and boyfriends in the military.
MW: Send lots of emails, pictures and talk on the phone. Staying involved in everyday life, thoughts and concerns is very difficult when you are apart. But, the more you communicate these daily issues, the easier it is to stay close. Lisa and I will often schedule lunch together over the phone. She gets her lunch, I get mine, and we sit and talk through our meals. Also sending flowers or secretly ordering a pizza, and having it delivered with a special note, these things keep your presence there, even when you're not!
Have you ever had a long-distance relationship?