Disney lied- or at least they never told us the whole story! Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty all of the fairy tales with a happily ever after,” yet we never hear or see the HARD work that goes into maintaining a marriage. And it is HARD, and it is work. Certainly we have found our prince (or princess) charming; ours are clad in different attire. With that attire comes challenges specific to military life: time apart, frequent moves, distance from family. In some ways maintaining a military marriage can be harder than our civilian counterparts.
It’s hard, but none-the-less it can be done. And below are something’s to keep in mind as you navigate through your military marriage.
- Remember WHY you fell in love. Maybe it was his sense of humor, or the way she cares for others. Whatever the reason, use the reason as to why as a gentle reminder during times of hardship.
- Romance each other- Just because your married doesn’t mean the romance must stop. Still take time to date each other. Before my husband’s accident, before he became paralyzed, one of my favorite things he would do would be him leading me into a slow dance while I cooked dinner. Romancing doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t need to be everyday- but it should be often.
- Communication- This can be one of the hardest concepts for any marriage, let alone a military marriage that often deals with lack of access to communication. Remember that effective communication takes practice.
- Listen to what the other person is saying, not just what you think you hear. (I have really had to work on not listening with my “woman ears.”)
- Know your body language. Reflect your body language to the person you are speaking with. Body language can set the “tone” of the conversation that you are having.
- The grass usually ISN’T greener- Don’t compare your relationship to any other. It’s not like your friends, your parents or your favorite sappy movie- it is your own. What others project into the world about their relationship, especially into today’s social media world, is typically only the positive (though as a disclaimer, I really don’t think we should share our relationship problems for the world to see). So when comparing your relationship to others you are doing yourself a disservice- comparing your: good, bad, and ugly to only others good isn’t an honest comparison. So step back and “Just Don’t Do It.”
- Relationships are cyclical, and go through spurts of highs and lows, that is normal and OK. The key is not getting caught in the lows, that you allow it to overtake the highs. There have been points in my marriage that were the lowest of lows, but it took work and perseverance to overcome. When in the grit of the bad, focus your mind on the good.
None of us were handed a “What to Expect when you are Married” book, and there isn’t a “Welcome to Marriage-for Dummies;” marriage is a set of trials and errors that work for you and your spouse. Know that if you are both working on making your marriage a place where together you grow- than you can count your marriage a success.