This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, I am a cyber anthropologist after all and I do pretty much LIVE online, but perhaps I should explain.
My husband is in the US Army currently stationed in Uijeongbu, South Korea. We have been married all of a month and a half as of today, Valentines day – however, our wedding isn’t until December 30th of this year.
You see, he proposed to me on Christmas Day last year (the proposal story is posted on my Facebook) and we decided the day before we did it to go ahead and get married while I was there celebrating the holidays with him. Yes, we got married just 6 days after we got engaged and yes, we really surprised our family and friends with that one. As his little brother said, “it just kind of Facebook happened” commenting on the fact we let everyone know we were engaged and then married via Facebook status updates as we made each one “Facebook Official”. Now, I haven’t written up the marriage story yet, but let me tell you – getting married in a foreign country is a story in and of itself.
Just 11 days after we were married I was on my way back to the states leaving my new husband on base back in Korea. And, though we were married 6 weeks ago, we haven’t had an actual wedding. Our one year anniversary will be spent having our wedding with friends and family back here in the states. This means I’m currently working two jobs (one as a UXD for a web hosting company and the other as a community manager for the virtual barcamp community I mentioned in my last post), going to school full time for my PhD, and planning a wedding. No I don’t sleep…
Not only do I have all that to contend with, but I also have to help make a 7 thousand mile long distance marriage work. Add to that the fact that our schedules are 15 hours apart (when it is DST it’s only 14 hours) and you can see this makes for an interesting set of circumstances when trying to coordinate and spend as much time together as possible.
You may be wondering how we make this work? This is where we enter the world of cyber marriage. What do I mean by “cyber marriage”? Well, at the moment, we spend our time as a married couple completely online. How do we do this? Our number one tool is Skype and we each have laptops with a built in web cams and mics, which means we can see and talk to each other on a fairly regular basis.
In addition to that, I bought him an iPod touch with camera for his birthday and I have an iPhone 4. Having these allows us to video conference both over Face Time and now Skype. We also use Facebook quite extensively both through our laptops and mobile devices. For us it is used mostly as an instant messaging service since we can’t text each other, a way to send notes to each other rather than emails, and as a way to keep up with one another via 4sq check-ins and wall posts. This way all we have to do is get real time status updates during the short time we have together rather than having to hash out our entire day when the other can keep up with it in our “off times” via our Facebook wall posts or notes. Lastly, we have a shared Mobile Me account where we can upload files to each other, share our calendars with one another, and even post pictures to one another. Having all of these options for connecting is very handy given our schedules.
Speaking of schedules, this is where we have to get really creative. Currently, with the 15 hour time difference, I hang out with him before he leaves for work, which is my afternoon from 4:30 to 6 pm and his morning from 7:30 to 9am. Then we hangout during his lunch, which is his 11:30 to Noon and my 8:30 to 10 pm. The only other chance we get is when I get up in the morning before I go to work my 7 to 9 am, which is just before he goes to sleep as it is his 10 pm to midnight. Sometimes things get in the way, like the fact I have class on Wednesday nights and I don’t get home until he has to be back at work. That and once a month I have class Friday day, Friday night, and Saturday day, which ends up being his ENTIRE weekend. Lame huh?
Though those are the only times we actually get to hangout and talk with each other, he’ll have me up on his Skype from the time he gets home at just after 5 pm (my 2 am), until I get up at 7 am (his 10 pm), and I’ll call him back when I get to work at 9:30am (his 12:30 am) and let him sleep until he has to get up at 5:45 am (my 2:45 pm). Though that may sound odd, it really is a comfort just knowing the other person is there, even if they are unconscious.
On the weekends it’s a bit different and we both make adjustments as best we can to spend as much waking time with each other as possible. Usually we spend our time playing World of Warcraft or Borderlands together. This does become hard when I have things like homework to keep up with, but even then, it’s nice having him up on my screen while I write papers. As I said before, knowing he’s there and being able to see him and interact with him whenever I want is a great comfort. It’s almost like him being in the room next to me, just hanging out at his computer playing video games, while I’m at my computer working on a paper. Almost…
The funny thing is, if you count up all the hours where we are both conscious and unconscious with each other, it turns out we spend more time together now than we would were we physically together and both holding down jobs and me with my school schedule.
This is the schedule we kept up while we were dating and still keep up now that we are married. When he comes stateside in May/June, we’ll be able to keep a more regular schedule with each other and actually be able to use things like phones to communicate, but until then, this is good as it gets in our cyber marriage.
So, for those of you this Valentine’s day who have the opportunity to reach out and physically touch the person you’re attached to, be thankful. There are those of us who wish for that every day, but we do what we can to make it work with a computer, a web cam, and an internet connection.
I miss you Rob, my Cyber Husband.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
P.S. In case you’re wondering, his Valentine’s present consisted of Steam games I bought for him off his wish list. He bought me an in game pet and in game mount for World of Warcraft!