My Husband Lives 3,000 Miles Away
“We try to see each other at least once every three months. I think it almost allows us to live really great lives, because we have to be present.”
This story is one piece of our Marriage Stories feature, a look inside real-life Philadelphia marriages. Here, Donna Petrecco and David Iskra, married one year and nine months, share their story.
In 2009, I was in the middle of a divorce, and I had two little kids. David is from the area, and his parents still live here. We have a lot of mutual friends, but we really didn’t hang out in high school. He was working at Lucasfilm in San Francisco, and that August, he was in town with another friend for a wedding. On a super-chance encounter, we met for drinks. When he came back a few months later, we met up again, and we’ve been together ever since. That was February 14, 2010. At that point, it just seemed inevitable.
We didn’t talk big-picture in the beginning, because we just knew we were going to be together and we were going to figure it out. Over the course of the last 10 years, there was a short time when we broke up, and we were both miserable. Once we got back together, we knew that we were going to get married and that we were going to have to be long-distance for a while, because I didn’t want to make any big changes for my kids. Also complicating matters is, I somewhat share custody with their dad, who also lives here in Pennsylvania. David was interviewing for a job in North Carolina to be closer to us, but that didn’t work out. Ultimately, he took a job at Facebook, and we got married in 2018.
We try to see each other at least once every three months. I think it almost allows us to live really great lives, because we have to be present. You can’t be in a constant state of missing someone; it’s just not healthy. Of course, in the most ideal world, we would be together, but I have to live my life here and David has to live his life there. We have zero issues with jealousy. I have a group of really good friends here that include me in everything; David has a ton of friends out there. And it makes it even better when we do see each other. That’s what makes it so romantic still, after 10 years.
In the most ideal world, we would be together, but I have to live my life here and David has to live his life there. We have zero issues with jealousy.
We still fight; don’t get me wrong. One of the things we had to figure out was, if something was bothering me, I wouldn’t speak up about it. I’m like, I’ll wait to talk to him about it when I see him in person. But then you see each other in person and you’re like, Oh, I don’t want to get in a fight and ruin these four days. Let’s just have fun! That was part of the learning process — learning how to get the fights out of the way. If it’s not the right time or the kids are in the way or you can’t talk on the phone, it builds up. Communication is key to this situation. Making sure that you’re not avoiding issues.
For Thanksgiving and Christmas, he’s always home, because his family is in the area, too. And when my girls are on their summer vacation with their dad for three weeks, I spend that time out on the West Coast. And usually whenever he has an event, I’ll fly and be with him there. Honestly, it’s the biggest reason that I’m a real estate agent — because I have flexibility.
I still have all my stuff here; he has all his stuff there. But I’m on his health insurance, and there are major things that he does pay for, so it’s melded, just in a more modern way. David sent me a picture last month — they finally put my name on his mailbox. He was like, I guess it’s official now!
When the girls are out of the house, we’ll be able to live in one location. I think at that point, we’re going to be like, yay! We’re going to get on each other’s nerves, but you know, we’ll figure that out when that comes. Everything doesn’t have to be solved right now. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and live your life for a little bit, and then things become clearer. Relationships don’t have to look conventional. It’s work putting in all the effort and energy it takes to keep a relationship alive and present and working when you live 3,000 miles apart. But I guess I know that it’s so rare to find what David and I have. We have all the important things that you need; we just don’t live in the same house.
Published as a part of a “Marriage Stories” feature in the April 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.