Long Distance Works with Great Communication

Erik and Ellen

Married 17 Years

Erik and Ellen met at Camp Tawonga summer camp in California. Ellen had worked there in previous summers and came to visit some friends. It was Erik’s first year at the camp, having just moved from Michigan. It was the summer after college and Ellen had a job in food service in San Diego–she had a challenging night and decided that she would quit and took a job for the last session of camp.

There was an opening for a lifeguard position and Erik who was a supervisor went to the Director, and suggested that she should hire Ellen for the lifeguard position not just because she was qualified but also because the Director likened herself a bit of matchmaker and he told her that he really liked Ellen. However, one of the employees wasn’t working out as a counsellor and they were going to move him to the lifeguard position instead. Erik agreed to supervise the counsellor if she would just hire Ellen. As they say, the rest is history.

Their first year together was a lot of back and forth between San Diego where Ellen lived and the Bay area where Erik lived. The second year they dated Ellen moved to Eugene, Oregon for grad school. After this second year of long distance, Erik moved to Eugene to be with Ellen.

Both Erik and Ellen knew very quickly. Erik remembers talking to his sister after the first two weeks having met Ellen and she said to him, I think you’re going to marry her. Erik told Ellen this after only knowing her a couple of weeks. Ellen was blown away and the fact that he could even say the “m” word–she had never had a relationship on that level before. She knew it was something special and deeper. Ellen says she knew on some level that he was the one right then but it was too soon to even admit it to herself but in hindsight she knew. They spent a lot of time together over the three week camp session and by the end they knew they would remain in contact and would visit each other regularly. We had already established we were in it for the long haul. Three and a half years later he popped the question while still in Oregon and they were there for 17 years. They were married five years after they met.

The first two years of their relationship were long distance and they learned to communicate with each other–how to talk and just as important how to listen to one another. They talked everyday on the phone only seeing each other every three or four weeks. Once they had children they made a conscious effort to make time for themselves. The very year their first son was born, they went on a holiday and had Erik’s sister look after their son.

We have always had the value that the boys won’t be in the home forever–there is a life beyond them and there is value in investing in our relationship.


Investing in themselves individually is also important as they each have unique needs and that’s part of a healthy relationship.

Things have come full circle now and their two boys now attend the camp where they met. Ellen and Erik are still very connected to the camp and having a long standing community that they have connected with over the years has been a source of strength in their relationship and family life.

Broadcast Love wishes Erik and Ellen many more years of love and laughter together.

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