It is slightly over three years, since Hassan Bugembe's girlfriend left the country for further studies. The love of his life was coming back at the end of three years, however things did not go as planned. "She called to say she had found a job and would stay for some more time. have been waiting for three years, I do not think waiting a little longer will be a problem," he says. While Hassan does not know how long he will be able to wait and how much longer he can be patient, he does not believe he can wait for more than five years.
Honestly, I do not know how long I will be able to wait. It is hard to plan such things, says Bugembe.
When it comes to waiting for a loved one who is out of the country, the challenges are many.
It is never easy says Bugembe adding that it is possible though. It has been said that most long distance relationships never work out. One party gets tempted or the stress of making it work pulls couples living away from each other for too long apart.
Maggie and Chris started dating in secondary school. A few months ago, Chris was awarded a scholarship to Japan for further studies for four years.
Maggie is torn between having to wait for Chris's return and living a normal life. She has resorted to staying at home, cutting all ties with her friends and instead fantasising about Chris's return. "We both love each other so much that we shall wait," she says.
Maggie may be lucky to wait for only four years but others have had to wait longer and sometimes, indefinitely.
Susan's fiancé left the country seven years ago for a Masters programme in America. When he left, Susan was expecting their daughter. Seven years down the road, Susan stopped waiting and her now ex-fiancé has even stopped talking of returning.
There are those like Maggie who wait and others like Susan who realise they have to get on with their lives. But how long is too long to wait for their loved one?
Most couples believe that physical space between them will not affect the firmness of the relationship because their "undying" love for each other can overcome this small obstacle. This often applies to couples that get separated for reasons to do with studies.
What happens in many cases, however, is that one of the partners may start feeling lonely and begin looking around to see what the "relationship market" has to offer.
Marriage counsellor Rev. Mike Okwi says those who offer educational scholarships should always put the spouses of the beneficiaries into consideration by possibly giving them scholarships as well. "Couple should not be separated for too long, at least they should be able to visit each other."
"Somehow I have managed to keep myself busy by for instance, going out with friends. Sometimes, it is very hard to handle but you look around and realise perhaps it is better to wait," says Bugembe. Luckily for him, he has support.
"I have this friend who was in the same situation before, so she understands what I am going through. I hang out with her and we talk when I find it hard." Bugembe says he does not feel at all abandoned since he made the decision to wait. "I think even a five years wait is a long time, but of course these are things we have talked about. But you never know just what may happen. Plans change."
While Rev. Okwi says three years is the longest suggested time for staying apart, he is also of the view that by then they will have overstretched themselves. "I think two years is the best time if couples have to stay apart. Three years is too long.
As human beings, everyone has needs, love, companion and support and if one's needs are not met, then one is bound to be lured into other relationships to fulfill these needs." However, he adds that if couples have total faithfulness to God and to themselves, then they can survive the distance no matter how long apart they are.
"If couples know Christ, they will live up to expectations, however, they need to plan for time to visit each other so that huemptation does not betray their cause."
Rev Okwi advises that before couples especially those not yet married separate, they should always first think about their relationship. "They should never stretch it for too long, if they do, they will always have problems," he says.