Military marriage can be such a beautiful thing.
Some of us marry our high school sweethearts and ride off into the sunset together.
Others meet in college or our partner’s first duty station and realize we’ve met “The One.”
There are also countless brothers, sisters and family members that have brought their “battle buddy” home for a holiday meal only to notice the two of you locking eyes over the potato salad and hearing wedding bells ringing.
“And they all lived happily ever after…”
Unfortunately romantic starts and true love’s first kiss are not enough to ensure a joyful and healthy union.
Staying together requires clear intentions and purposeful actions.
There is a unified work ethic and mindful habits that often go unseen and these are the glue that holds supportive military marriages together.
“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”
Similar to the duck that seems serene and still on the pond, but is furious pumping its webbed feet under water, military marriages take dedication and plain ole’ hard work.
We each come to the union with expectations, dreams and preferences. The key is to get ourselves together in order to stay together in the long run.
Here are 4 tips to get it together so that you will stay together.
Kick Outside Voices (Including Preconceived Notions) Out of Your Military Marriage
This is not your mother’s marriage, your brother’s marriage or your preacher’s marriage. Hell, this isn’t even Uncle Sam’s marriage. When everything is said and done this contract and obligation is strictly between you and your spouse.
The world is full of wise and wonderful people. And some of them may offer you advice, but the best advice I’ve ever received is to simply communicate with my spouse.
I’d be lying if I said this has always been easy. Or that we both are always on the same wavelength. But at the end of the day, we’ve had to lay down what we thought we knew and accept each other for who we are today. Only 2 voices matter in your marriage: theirs and yours.
Build Kindness and Respect Into Your Military Marriage
Life comes at you fast. Children, careers, health concerns and deployments can all sap your energy and your smile. This is complete normal since you’re probably a regular human. It can be so easy to slip into pettiness or be snippy, especially if you feel overworked and under appreciated. In times when you are worn thin choose to check in with yourself and acknowledge your feelings.
You may not have the time or means to address all concerns, but it’s always alright to be clear about what you are experiencing. Where the danger comes in is when we use our circumstances as an excuse to be mean spirited or outright asses to our spouses. Or them to us.
Both of you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. If you are struggling with basic kindness or respect in your union consider utilizing counseling services.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Grow Together
5, 10, 15, 20…those years fly by so fast. Don’t waste time, explore the world and expand your mind with your spouse. Sail together, learn words in a new language, take a cooking class; the list goes on and on.
A couple that plays together, stays together.
The military defines so much of our lives and this is the ride we’ve signed up for.
However, this is a big wide world we live in and one that should be enjoyed with a partner. Some couples take turns choosing their own adventure while others plan it out together. Whatever your method the importance is in the quality and quantity of time shared in the mutual pursuit of happiness.
Plan Personal Growth Time Into Your Military Marriage
If you would have told me that my old school, Sea Bee, grandfather would recommend marriage counseling to me I would not have believed you.
We were talking one day and I was sitting on the same couch he had when I was a little girl. My husband and I were probably around our 10-year mark, and Grandpa said, “I didn’t know about marriage counseling then (‘60s & ‘70s), but it would have saved my marriage. Get counseling!”
Consider couples counseling and/or personal counseling if past traumas or experiences are negatively impacting your relationship with your partner. Your base chaplin’s office, Military One Source and our good friend Google can all provide more information and point you in the right direction for marital and personal support.
We’re deep into year 15 in my neck of the woods and these tips have helped us along the way.