Spoiler alert: you can’t.
But keep reading. We are going to give you one thing you can perfect.
As a military spouse, you can do everything right.
You can wave the flag at the deployment send-off.
You can rock those heels or bow tie at homecoming.
You can send care packages and pictures and love letters and inspirational quotes.
You can do all the laundry and make the best meals and have the greatest job and be the most amazing parent.
You can do it all!
You two can have the greatest adventures and the most incredible history. You can laugh your asses off together, you can grow stronger through grieving together, you can watch Netflix and chill together and you can truly be soulmates.
But perfect? You can’t have a perfect marriage, my friend. Perfect doesn’t exist.
So cut yourself some slack.
Don’t let social media convince you that everyone else has the perfect marriage. I promise, they don’t.
That couple beaming in the photo at the military ball very well might be truly happy. But I guarantee you they’ve fought over putting clothes on top of the hamper instead of in it.
Those two on vacation? Always jet-setting across the world for the most amazing photo ops? Yeah, I promise they argued over something as important as whose responsibility it was to replace the toilet paper on the holder.
I’m not proud of it, but one of the biggest fights early on in our marriage was over how I liked my eggs. My husband, trying to be sweet, ordered my breakfast for me at a fancy brunch spot. I asked for the eggs scrambled on the sweet little benedicts and he insisted I wanted them sunny-side up. They should have renamed the dish the Benedict Arnold. I lost my mind when those goopy eggs came out and ran all over my plate and ruined everything.
I still maintain it was indicative of some larger respect thing, but um, really, it wasn’t. I was just hangry.
We have a good laugh about it (and turns out that’s how I prefer my eggs now, 10 years later) but the point is, couples fight. They disagree.
They love so much and so fiercely and so hard that it becomes a relationship worth fighting for, and sometimes, fighting each other for. Finances, jobs, duty stations and even eggs, can be contentious.
My military marriage isn’t perfect because military life isn’t. This lifestyle isn’t relaxed or predictable or calm. It’s not quiet nights in a quaint town with every expectation for tomorrow.
No, sweet friend. It’s messy.
It’s 3 a.m. wake-ups and last minute TDYs and bringing new babies into the world via Skype.
It’s goodbyes and hellos, and hopes the latter outnumber the former.
It’s changing plans and canceling vacations and one more holiday away from home.
It’s really freaking hard…which means military marriages take just that much more work. Our marriages take more trust and more strength. They take more patience and more grace and more forgiveness and more flexibility and more everything.
And most importantly? They take more courage.
We send our spouses off to work with no guarantee they’ll return. Sure, no one’s day is guaranteed, but there’s something about training and war and deployments and battle that heightens that awareness, doesn’t it?
So instead of focusing on the perfect marriage, focus on the perfect goodbye.
Commit to kissing your spouse in the morning. Make a pact not to end a conversation or a phone call without an “I love you.” Sign your emails with some x’s and o’s and spiff up your texts with some heart emojis. Promise each other you’ll do your best not to go to sleep angry.
We can’t have the perfect marriage – no one can – but we can sure keep trying.