5 things that long-distance couples can learn from George and Barbara Bush's marriage


George H.W. Bush with his wife Barbara and son George W. in Rye, New York, in the summer of 1955. (Associated Press) (unknown)

George Bush and Barbara Pierce got to know each other at a dance when they were teenagers. He was 17, she was 16. If it had been today, they might have met through texts, GIFs and Snapchat after this first encounter. In the 1940s, however, the advertising was done by handwritten letters – and these are incredibly delicate and enlightening.

In "George and Barbara Bush: A Great American Love Story," her granddaughter Ellie LeBlond Sosa tells the story of her relationship – from this dance to several moves across the country and around the world. They often spent time together and wrote each other letters.

First, when George was studying at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and Barbara was at a boarding school in South Carolina; Then, when George enlisted in the Navy and was stationed abroad while Barbara was studying at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, they were often separated even after their marriage, when George worked in the Texas oil industry as he campaigned while serving as chairman of the Republican National Committee and during his time as US diplomat in China.

Although relationships have changed dramatically since the 1940s, when George and Barbara met for the first time, here are five things each remote couple can learn from the time the former president and first lady spent separately.

When separated, discuss the thrill of reunion – and your fears as well.

In a 1942 letter to George, Barbara wrote that she thought it was "swelling" that George had invited her to dance on a date at the Phillips Academy. But before she could say yes, she waited for a small detail: the consent of her mother Pauline Robinson.

"I have not heard from her, BUT I'm sure she'll let me come or go, etc.," Barbara wrote. "I'm really excited, but also scared to death. If you hear a big noise up there, do not worry, my knees are knocking. "

To make Barbara feel more comfortable, George arranged that she also danced with some of his friends so she would not be with him all the time. It worked. After the dance, they went for a walk and "he kissed my cheek and I almost fainted," Barbara recalls. It was Barbara's first kiss, writes her granddaughter. Barbara said that "the poor girl who was staying with me – I kept her awake all night and said how wonderful he is."

When you are together, the quality of time counts – not the quantity.

When Barbara was in her freshman year at Smith College and joined the Navy, but had not yet left the States, he boarded a train from New York to Northampton, though he arrived at 9 in the afternoon. and Barbara had to be in at 22:15. Curfew. Nevertheless, the hike was worthwhile. Soon after they were engaged and George wanted to fight in the Second World War.

When one partner makes sacrifices for the other, make sure you're aligned.

In the 1960s, Barbara wrote to a friend about how miserable it was to the other wives of young congressmen, as their husbands constantly had to travel between Washington and their district, campaigning every two years. "I really understand her loneliness," she wrote.

And yet, if the circumstances ever changed – and she was applying for the job – Barbara was confident that George would support her the way she did for him. "If I was elected to public office, I would expect George to support me and be an appendage," Barbara said. "And if I was elected to office and he did not agree with me, I would hope that he is very, very quiet."

Allow the hard times to bring you closer together than drifting apart.

Sometimes distance in a relationship is not physical but psychological. In a heartbreaking section on George and Barbara's daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at the age of three, Sosa describes how Barbara "fell apart" and George took care of her. "Many relationships break after they have lost a child," writes Sosa, but "George and Barbara were patient with the grief of the other." Barbara held it together while Robin was alive, and George was there for her afterwards. "George did not pull me back," Barbara said.

Yes, absence actually makes the heart grow.

In many of George's letters he sent during his absence, he notes that the time he has been away from Barbara only makes him love more. In one such letter, when George was in China over Christmas 1974, he wrote, "I love you. It's bad to be apart apart from one thing – I always count the ways when you left. "Even though George was fifty years old at the time, he still carried himself like a crazy student. "I do not know what I want to be when I grow up, except that I know one thing for sure – you'd better be with me."

Barbara and George had another four decades together, and their affection for each other had never diminished. Sosa writes, as her doctor had suggested in recent years, that George and Barbara would sleep in separate bedrooms so they could rest more. "But they rejected it as long as possible," writes Sosa. "George argued that when he woke up in the middle of the night, he had to be able to find out that Barbara was there."


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