5 Tips on How To Have a Successful Long Distance Relationship

She’s a marketer in Singapore; he’s an animator in Vancouver. More than 12,000 kilometers in between them, approximately 120 pages of WhatsApp messages, and 730 virtual “I love you’s”-it’s amazing how both survived the challenging setup of a long distance relationship or LDR.

Now married to her husband, Shannan, my friend Yvonne shares with us a few pieces of advice on how to keep a healthy LDR…

how to keep a healthy LDR

Shannan & Yvonne on their wedding day

Hi, I’m Yvonne Chow. I’m a former beauty blogger, product marketing specialist, and had been in 3 long-distance relationships. I uprooted myself from Asia to migrate to North America after a two-year long-distance relationship to join Shannan who’s based in Vancouver.

Late last year, I quit from being head of Product Marketing in a global tech company; carefully squashed most of my belongings into three rolling suitcases; heaved tearful goodbyes to my family and friends; and got on that one-way trip to another continent. All to begin a new life with my husband, with whom I was in an LDR since February of 2016.

It was not easy, but these 5 things I’ll talk about helped us nurture and improve our relationship, which led to a happy marriage! I hope these insights will help you in your own LDR, too!

1. Schedule a time to talk.
Technology has made communication faster and easier, but it makes us complacent. How many times have we deferred replying to WhatsApp messages or responded to them in a cursory manner?

In an LDR, it’s crucial to set aside time to talk to each other because we lose the “immediacy effect”. Communicating verbally in-person elicits more natural responses, but because we couldn’t afford that, my husband and I decided to dedicate a fixed time each weekend to talk to each other over FaceTime – without distractions!

2. Practice honest, constructive conversations.
It shouldn’t just be mere updates or how-are-you’s. My husband and I treated each other like a journal and practiced articulating our feelings in an open manner.

You may find it easier to say, “I had a terrible day today-that’s it,” and expect your partner to understand. You’re not with your partner physically and it’s going to be difficult for them to read your body language and show encouragement without the nuances of physical presence.

Instead, try sharing, “I had a terrible day because this happened, and it made me feel this way, and I’m wondering what to do,” to be more constructive. Being specific opens up a natural path for deeper conversations and helps your partner support you better.

3. Listen to each other.
Many people search for articles that can help them articulate complex ideas better, but most do not search about how to listen. Communication is a two-way street – talking and listening. Remember to ask your partner about themselves too, and listen to know how their day went, what their struggles are, and what will make them happy.

4. Take advantage of the difference in time zones.
Although we couldn’t always communicate in real time due to different time zones, we used the delay to think about crafting meaningful conversations. This proved to be useful, especially when we were having disagreements. The difference in time zones enabled us to be creative and to carefully choose the words we write to each other.

5. Define your end goals.
That is both your own as individuals and together as a couple. This advice was given to me almost a decade ago by people who were in LDR’s and ended up getting married  (still are so far!) as well.

The reality is there’s no point being in an LDR if you’re not sure how you’re going to move forward. Distance does make the heart grow fonder but it does little for physical intimacy (and it’s not always about sex).

Simple gestures like a hug, a pat on the shoulder, and holding hands help form and strengthen the bond you have with your partner. I don’t think it’s healthy to be in a perpetual LDR without some form of commitment, because an LDR feels like a limbo state. So commit to a future when you will finally be together physically.

These tips really just boil down to having intentional communication. We need to fill the space between with our constant effort to communicate and listen to each other. Love is sure to grow stronger in spite of the distance.


You may read more about Yvonne, her married life, and adventures in Vancouver here.

Tips on How To Give Meaningful Gifts

When you find yourself not knowing how and what to give, just remember these simple pieces of advice.

Wedding welcome gifts

1. Gift what you love.
Get something you would love to receive yourself. In almost all cases, whatever you value yourself is what others would find worthy, too.

Groomsmen wedding gift

2. Make it personal.
There are so many ways to personalize – by engraving gifts with names or monograms & customizing labels and prints.

Groomsmen socks with personalized labelsJack Daniel whiskey custom labels

3. Hand write messages. 
Nothing beats good old handwritten letters that come from the heart.

Personalized gift tags calligraphy

How To Effectively Use Monogram in Gifts

Let’s be honest – We often dismiss many of the favors and giveaways we receive because of their shouting logos and monograms that make the gifts appear tacky and thoughtless. A guest in an event I went to mentioned that she’d rather have more tapas than the cheap souvenir they gave as we left (I know how ungrateful!). I think one of the common mistakes is when we overuse or misuse our opportunity to personalize.


Photo from WedPics Blog

We suggest a few ways on how to effectively personalize your gifts and favors using monograms.

Know your monogram etiquette.
The traditional three-letter Victorian monograms are the most popular variety people use today. For single men and women, the initials of their names are used to create a monogram; the surname is usually the largest and placed in the middle. If you are giving gifts to a married couple, their initials are combined- the man’s initial goes first followed by the woman’s. But if you are giving gifts to married couples individually, tradition dictates to use the woman’s first name initial, married name initial and then her maiden name initial.

monogram rule for singlesmonogram rules for married couples

Choose the appropriate gift.
Almost everything can be monogrammed – clothing, leather goods, jewelry, even your tiny M&M’s can be personalized! The challenge is to pick the most suitable item in line with your event and based on what the receiver will surely want and would actually use. Always ask yourself – is this item something I would want myself? (Read: Avoid anything glossy).

Bridesmaids boyfriend shirt monogram

Beach wedding

Photo by Ellen Leroy Photography

bridesmaid's monogram bracelets

Be subtle.
Be careful not to overdo the prints, especially if you are using your own initials or names and logos on your giveaways. Use the appropriate font sizes in relation to the size of the favor. Whatever you do, always make sure that they read well.

monogram wedding favorsmonogrammed gift labels

You can never go wrong by making your monogrammed gift simple, useful and fun. Hope this list helps you!

Right or Left, Together or Separate?: How To Wear Your Wedding and Engagement Rings

When my then fiancé (now my husband) proposed to me, I gave him my left hand by default. When we were buying our wedding bands, I was not yet sure which ring finger to put mine on. Fortunately the ring that we decided to get goes really well with my engagement ring, so I thought of wearing them on top of each other. Like any other new bride, I was clueless about ring placements and traditions.

Vein of love
There is really no hard and fast rule on how to wear engagement and wedding rings, but each country and culture have their own set of guidelines and traditions.

Here are some of them:

  • In Catholic and Protestant countries like Russia, Germany, Greece, Spain, Norway and Poland, brides often wear their engagement and wedding rings on the ring finger of the right hand.
  • Those from England, France, Canada, US, Mexico, Ireland, Sweden and other Commonwealth countries generally wear theirs on the ring finger of the left hand.
  • Muslim weddings don’t normally include the practice of exchanging rings but they have already adopted this Western tradition.
  • Jewish couples wear the wedding ring on the left hand, even though it is placed on the right hand during the marriage ceremony. Jewish grooms place the rings on the index fingers of their brides, since that is the finger with which they point to the Torah as they read.
  • Women in Scandinavia wear three rings, one each for engagement, marriage and motherhood.
  • In China, brides wear their wedding bands on the right hand and the grooms on the left. This is based on the custom of ‘nan zhuo, nu you‘ (male left, female right). They believe that since the the woman is in charge of the household, she should wear her ring on the right hand because it has more force and influence.
  • Although rings are usually exchanged in Japanese wedding ceremonies, many Japanese couples choose not to wear their wedding bands after the ceremony.
  • In some parts of India, Hindu women may wear a toe ring or ‘bichiya’ instead of a ring on their finger.
  • Some women from Asia and the West wear the engagement ring on the left hand but move it on the right hand before the wedding ceremony to make room for the wedding ring; while some prefer to store away the engagement ring and wear the wedding ring solo.
Indian wedding

Photo from Pinterest

  • Some women from Eastern Europe wear their engagement rings on the right ring finger and the wedding band on the left ring finger.
  • Some people believe that the ‘correct’ way to wear the engagement and wedding rings together is the wedding band first and then the engagement ring on top of it.  Some believe that wearing the engagement ring on top of the wedding band also ‘protects’ it and keeps it stable and grounded together with their marriage.

Being right-handed, I prefer to free my right hand from any rings just for convenience and comfort. Whether we decide to follow our culture’s tradition or our own personal preference, the most important thing is we treasure and value the symbol that our rings represent – infinite love and fidelity.

The Art of Gifting

One of my primary love languages has always been giving gifts. For some reason, I get really excited about making a friend or a loved one feel happy, valued and loved through gifts. I most especially enjoy the thought process involved and the act of wrapping up a present with nice paper, ribbons and bows.

Today, let me share with you some ideas on making your gifts extra special and on how to use gift giving as an opportunity to exercise creativity.

Beautify with ribbons, flowers and foliage.

Accessorizing with pretty elements like ribbons and fillers will definitely make any gift stand out. Including a succulent or a small bouquet on the side will not only add a pop of color but also life (literally!) to any gift. Feel free to put in a leafy branch from your garden or tie up some satin bows to make your gift look more exciting.

ribbons and roses

Add a personal touch.

Don’t be scared to avoid the standard gift wrappers; create your own! If you’re into painting or drawing, use a simple kraft paper as your canvas and design your own gift wrapper. If you’re into calligraphy or lettering, write the name of the recipient or the occasion you’re celebrating (Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Thanksgiving, etc.) across the plain paper according to your style. Anything goes!

personalized gift wrapper

2nd photo from www.brit.co

Follow a theme.

It’s always easier to think using themes and patterns. Think of a color motif or a particular design you like and prepare a gift using that theme. For example, if you have chosen a specific color theme, come up with a list of some favorite things (or food) that the person you’ll give the gift to enjoys, and choose the ones that come in the same color family and put them together in a box or basket. If you feel that buying just a single gift item seems insufficient, this is the best option for you.

gift baskets Vancouver


Express your personality by being creative with your gift giving. Reach a new level of thoughtfulness and be greatly appreciated for it. You’ll also feel satisfied after. 100% guaranteed.