By: Elizabeth Snell, Military Spouses of Strength (MSoS) Founder
“Good relationships don’t just happen. They take time, patience, and two people who truly want to be together.”- unknown
Life is complicated, life married to the military is even more so. The military isn’t just our service members livelihood, it is a way of life, and a culture that our service members assimilate too. Our service members work long hours, leave extended periods of time, and come home speaking a language consisting of acronyms and inside jokes that as civilians we will never understand.
So with all of these differences, how do we make sure out marriages thrive? Take a look at our list, and share with us any tips that you have embraced.
- Keep Your INDEPENDENCE- Sure too much time apart can create a unique set of challenges and leave your marriage open to vulnerabilities. However, being too dependent on your spouse can create challenges for you through your journey as a military spouse. Deployments, and other extended periods of your service members absence will require that you have some level of independence, and in turn you will begin to feel a sense of meaning and purpose. Don’t give up your independence completely when your service member returns home- you deserve time for you, and taking that time for yourself will in turn enrich your marriage.
- You won’t always be Happy- Any and every marriage will go through a rocky point, a point in which you may not be blissful. Sure as military couples we become accustomed to the euphoric honeymoon feelings; whether it is induced by a new marriage or a return from a long separation. But what happens when the “honeymoon” ends- do we ever REALLY talk about those feelings. The frustration at having to learn how to become a couple again, the resentment that they left in the first place. The truth is we won’t ALWAYS be HAPPY, but knowing that the unhappiness won’t last forever can help get you through the times when you may be at your low.
- The definition of Insane- Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, is said to be the definition of insanity. This applies to our marriages too. If we are trying something and it isn’t changing the outcome we are looking for then isn’t the effort wasted if you expect different results with the same action? You want your service member to stop putting his boots on the carpet, try to use a different approach; etc.
- Pay attention to your own lawn- It is easy to look at the marriages around us and decipher that their’s must be happier than our own. Truthfully, we don’t know what happens behind closed doors, and how good of actors/actresses they may be. More importantly what happens in the relationships of those that surround us isn’t nearly as important as what happens in our own. So stop looking to what others may have (assumingly) and focus inwardly.
- Fight the battle with yourself, before your service member- Next time you feel a battle brewing, try playing it in your head first. Prepare the words you’ll use, the tone that you’ll speak in, the point that you are truly trying to construe. Taking these steps, having this conversation with yourself, will help you to get the message you are intending across. Yelling, fighting- rarely lets you be heard.
- Love is a Verb- Love isn’t simply a saying, though it is a word we need to hear; and often frequently. But love is actions. Love is how you treat each other, how you speak of each other, acts of kindness you do for one-another, and love is present in gifts that are given. (Authors’ note: Check out the book “The 5 Love Languages- Military Edition”)
- Crisis doesn’t mean Catastrophe- There will be bumps, challenges and obstacles over the course of your marriage; this doesn’t mean that your marriage is doomed, it means that it is real. Like any storm there may be some rain, even thunder and possible lightening, but when it is over the grass has been watered and the flowers can fully bloom. It is during these times of crisis that we learn not only what we are made of, but also what are marriages are made of.
Marriage isn’t made, it is molded over time. Remember, that your marriage is your own- and should be held as closely as your most prized possession.