The couple’s guide to surviving the holidays when you can’t be together

If you aren’t able to be together during the holidays, you can still make this time of year special.

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  • There may be no place like home for the holidays, but with that being said, sometimes you and your significant other end up separated during the season. If you aren't able to be together during the holidays, you can still make this time of year special. However, it can be tricky to balance staying in touch while still enjoying the time you're spending with family.

  • Thanks to the connected world we live in, you and your beloved are only a phone call, text or video chat away - but sometimes you still crave a more significant connection.

  • Here are seven ways to keep your love burning across the miles without compromising your time with additional loved ones:

  • 1. Send gifts and open them together

  • Surprise your sweetheart with your own version of the 12 days of Christmas. Send them a gift for every day you're apart and then do a quick video chat so you can share the moment when they open their presents. This lets you enjoy the delight of seeing your sweetie swoon over the thoughtful gifts and trinkets you selected just for them. If you both want to open gifts together, schedule a present-opening Skype date and share the love.

  • 2. Go on a virtual date

  • Make a date to Skype or Facetime over a favorite meal or classic holiday film together. Set aside that time for one another just as you would if you were meeting in person. That means no family interruptions or guilt trips. If you each explain how important it is for the two of you to share some holiday time together, your families will understand. Having this dedicated quality time with your partner will also help you be more present for other family festivities.

  • 3. Set up an united front

  • Before you have to part ways, send out a joint holiday card. This gives you a shared holiday activity and a chance to celebrate your relationship even if you can't be together during the festive season. This can also alleviate all of your family member's hounding questions about where your significant other is and whether or not "everything is okay between you two."

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  • 4. Make a countdown

  • Instead of counting down the days until Christmas or New Year's, make a couple's countdown that marks the days until you and your beloved are reunited. You can do it online - or if one of you is staying home, make a paper chain that lets you tear away each day until you're back in one another's arms.

  • 5. Don't obsess over social networking

  • It can be hard to watch post after post of your S.O. having a great time with everyone but you - or watching other couples share holiday party photos all over social media. Save yourself the stress and worry by limiting time on Facebook and Instagram during your time apart.

  • 6. Send sweet nothings

  • Sending a surprise text or a silly photo in the middle of the day or just before bed lets your partner know they're on your mind and keeps your connection going strong even though you're apart. There are also plenty of relationship apps out there designed for couples who need to connect across many miles. Try a few out and decide on the one that works best for keeping you and your loved one in sync.

  • 7. Make the most of your alone time

  • No matter how much you love your partner, we all need a little time alone to refuel. Use the break as a chance for a little quality "me time." Lounge around all day in your pajamas, take yourself out to an indulgent dinner or splurge on a spa day. Your revived spirit will infuse your relationship with renewed vigor once your loved one returns.

  • It may not be your first choice to celebrate the holidays miles away from your significant other, but you can still make this magical time of year memorable as a couple. Use these ideas to share some of the festivities with one another. By being conscientious during your time apart, you can stay connected and still enjoy this precious time with your extended family.

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Sarah lives in Utah and has her MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication from Iowa State. She freelances and teaches speech and writing courses. You can find Sarah on Twitter .

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