The following are quotes from various resources on the subject of military marriages. We pray you will find them helpful for your situation.
• Some say the hardest job in the military belongs to the military spouse. Our military spouses are unsung heroes who maintain the home-front during lengthy deployments, give back to their communities through volunteer work, and provide moral support for their loved ones serving at home and in harms way. At the same time, many hold down full time jobs and raise families. While the service member is rewarded for superior job performance with medals, promotions and ceremonies, the military spouse generally only receives a kiss and a “thank you.” (The Flagship: Heroes At Home)
• “At a recent ‘chaplain’s brief,’ in which the military tries to prepare its soldiers for reintegration in the world, the officer in charge cited Army statistics that indicated 30 percent of the spouses believe deployment harms their marriages. The Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps statistics put the divorce rate among soldiers as comparable to the civilian rate —about 50 percent.” (Chuck Yarbrorough, from article “Iraq No Honeymoon for Couples)
• Pre-Deployment: Be present in the moment. It’s all too easy to succumb to the grief of your upcoming separation, to lose yourself in the fears and tears. As important as it is to acknowledge and experience these negative feelings, it’s equally important to acknowledge the positive feelings and moments. Take in the beautiful scenery while the two of you drive to the store for milk. Chuckle together when the spaghetti boils over. Tell your spouse how head-over-heels you are for him or her. Live life together to its fullest, purposefully conquering the despair with which Satan hopes to overtake you. (Erin Prater, from Focus on the Family article, “Tips for Facing Deployment”)
• How do we not let the threats to our marriage during a deployment take their toll? Here are a few thoughts: The time to build a romance that will sustain through a deployment starts before a deployment. Celia and I are quite intentional about investing the extra time, quality time that is, to build a marriage of romance. Extra date nights, weekend getaways and even special times of just sitting on the porch together after the house is quiet, where we can focus on each other, affirm our commitments to each other, and be affectionate. Another thing we do together is to build a plan on how we are going to serve one another in our communications and care for each other while apart. Having set times to call each other during the day is important as it nurtures excitement, anticipation and intimacy.
If you’ve not been romancing each other before the deployment, not only will you have a tougher time keeping the romantic feelings alive during the separation, but you’ve really been missing out on one of the most fun parts of being married now. Plus, allowing your marriage to slip into a routine and complacency can create a breeding ground for selfish thoughts, a “victim” mentality and possibly lead to improper affections elsewhere. (Chuck and Celia Williams, from the Romantic Vineyard article, “Romantic Deployment”)
• It’s easy to use spending as an emotional band-aide, especially while your service member is away. Budgeting for a reasonably priced “splurge” now and then will prevent you from blowing your budget with impulse buys. If you’re planning to order new checks, customize them with pictures of your spouse or family as a reminder to keep their financial well being in mind. Emotional spending is the source of temporary warm and fuzzy feelings, but money is one of the top causes of marital discord. (Erin Prater, from Focus on the Family Article, “Military Marriage-Killers and Stressors”)
• Before your husband arrives home, discuss each other’s thoughts, expectations, and concerns for your reunion. Let him know your desire to honor him while maintaining stability in the home. See what suggestions he has. It’s not too early to pray about your reentry as a couple. Suggest that the two of you begin praying specifically about the readjustment period, that it would be a smooth transition.
We’ve seen some healthy couples turn this potential problem into an opportunity to redefine some of the roles in their relationship. When the husband of one military couple came home from overseas and resumed paying the bills, he realized that he didn’t like it and wasn’t good at it. By talking to his wife, he discovered that she not only enjoyed handling their finances, she excelled at it. He’d previously believed that managing the money was something a man “should” do rather than something that a couple is free to negotiate based on skills and interests. They restructured some of their responsibilities, and what could have become a major problem actually strengthened their relationship.
Another military couple made appointments with their pastor just to have an objective third party to talk to, pray with, and provide wise and biblically-consistent counsel. Ask God to prepare you and give you realistic expectations. Pray for extra doses of patience and grace. Enlist two or three other couples to pray for you at least once a day for the next three months. (From Couple Counsel, with Gary and Carrie Oliver, in Marriage Partnership Magazine, Winter 2005)
• Post-Deployment: Pray often, and together. It’s normal to be nervous about “doing life” together again. In your personal quiet times, pray that God would make you a gracious, selfless, understanding spouse. Ask that He would enable the both of you to enjoy the journey. While it may be hard to directly tell your spouse that you’re finding it hard to cope with the ways he’s changed or getting used to him leaving the toilet seat up again, you may find it easier to communicate in mutual prayer.
Pray aloud and together, pouring out your frustrations and joys. But check your motivations: Don’t ask for conviction or consequences for your spouse’s behavior; rather, ask for patience for yourself and blessings in your spouse’s life. It will do wonders for your marriage. (Erin Prater, from Focus on the Family article, “Tips for Facing Deployment”)
• Homecoming Tip: Don’t expect things to be the same as they were before your partner was deployed. A healthy military marriage acknowledges that both partners have changed during the separation. The soldier has seen traumatic and unpleasant events. The partner at home may be stressed from having to do it all. Accept this and take it slow. Don’t try to make up for lost time super fast. —Take time to become re-acquainted. Know that you will both be different. Talk about your experiences. Take it slow with your intimate relationship. It may feel awkward at first. Let go of daydreams. It probably won’t be like you imagined. (Admin, from article, “How to Have a Healthy Military Marriage -Iraq Health Guide”)
• Reunion time with your military spouse can be both a great experience and also one that creates problems in your marriage. Here are some tips to make the homecoming easier and more enjoyable: Accept that things may be different. …Plan for visits from your extended family. …Tone down your fantasies —reality may be quite different. (Sheri and Bob Stritof, from the article, “Homecoming Tips.” To read the rest of the article, go to: http://marriage.about.com/cs/militarymarriages/qt/homecoming.htm)
• Ellie Kay, the wife of an Air Force pilot and the author of Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America’s Military Families, reveals what can sometimes happen when her husband, Bob, returns from a turn of military duty. After months of flying and fighting and barking commands, he is often still in a giving-orders mood when he re-enters civilian life. That’s when Ellie uses a little code phrase to bring him back to her world: “K and G.” Kinder and gentler.
It’s a signal to her husband, who likely doesn’t even realize how harsh his words may sound, to throttle back. To tone it down. Save it for his subordinates. How often do you bring the pressures and attitudes of work home with you? How do they manifest themselves at home? Talk about how you can remind one another to be K and G. (Dennis and Barbara Rainey – Moments with You)
• What retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Jeff Edwards said at his retirement about his wife could be paraphrased about you and so many other military spouses:
“You are a patriot —the sort of citizen that all of us should be, but so few of us are. You live with sacrifice, because you believe in the rights and ideals that your husband defends. Although you wear no uniform, you are a part of that defense —a vital link in the chain of freedom. Although you wear no medals and will reap no glory on the field of battle, you are hero in the truest sense of the word. You are a military spouse.”(Gene Thomas, from the article “The Hardest Job in the Military”)
• Timing can be important in a military marriage. If you have PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders, and get married before you actually make the move, you can have your spouse added to your orders and the military will pay for the relocation of your spouse and her property (furniture and such). However, if you report to your new duty assignment first, and then get married, you will have to pay for the relocation of your spouse out of your own pocket. (Rod Powers, from article, Military Weddings and Honeymoons. To read the article in its entirety click onto the following link: http://usmilitary.about.com/od/familydomestic/a/marriage.htm)
• Part of “Pre-separation” syndrome is that people begin to separate themselves emotionally for what lies ahead. Look for tensions to be high and be on guard for potential fireworks over little things. Simply being aware of these emotions and potential disagreements can go a long way toward diffusing the situation. Karen Evenson and her husband, who’s traveled frequently for 15 years, would fight about the laundry before he’d leave on trips. “I’d get so angry because he’d throw his underwear anywhere but in the hamper!” Karen says. “We’d get into arguments about it and he’d leave the house on a sour note. Then I’d spend the time we were apart feeling guilty and miserable. I finally discovered where he puts his underwear really doesn’t matter. And that discovery has made for better partings.” (Ellie Kay, from the Marriage Partnership Magazine article, “Staying Connected When Your Spouse Is Away”)
• Dwelling on situations that could or could not happen can burn up your energy. Don’t do it, because life is full of uncertainties and the time you and your soldier spend together is precious. There will be times when your quality time could be cut short, so spend your time wisely. A military marriage can make you feel like you are under a rule of thumb at times. You’ve got to remember you both accepted this lifestyle for better or worse as you did when you said your own marriage vows. (Emily Whitlow, from Helium.com article, “How Military Life Affects a Marriage”)
• Remember your promise. “The most common emotion is one of being overwhelmed. With the kids and the house and no help and no relief in sight, it’s often really hard to keep from being completely overwhelmed. But I’m a military wife. I knew the job description when I married him, so I feel like I don’t have any right to complain.” (Holly Dawner)
• I’ve tacked a piece of paper to our bedroom wall, next to letters and cards from my husband. It lists important truths God has taught me through this deployment. Though the learning is sometimes painful, I know He’s molding me through this deployment into the wife my husband needs me to be. — Today isn’t forever. Sometimes it seems like it, but in a few hours this day will be done. Even if it’s a day apart from my husband, it’s worth living. — God won’t give us more than we can handle. Sometimes I find it hard to believe, but I’m still alive and kicking, aren’t I?
— To Him, a day is like a thousand years. (See 2 Peter 3:8.) Boy, I know the feeling! But the verse also says a thousand years are like a day to the Lord. I often pray the time away from my husband to pass that quickly! — We’re given grace for one day at a time. Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” No wonder I’m so often overwhelmed when I attempt to fathom how I’ll make it through the rest of this deployment and readjustment phase. He’ll give me grace for today and new mercies tomorrow morning — even more encouragement to take things one day at a time. (Erin Prater, from Focus on the Family article, “Grief, Goodbyes and God”)
• Hold tightly to the assurances of God. Hear His promise, articulated so eloquently in the 46th Psalm: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging“ (Psalm 46:1-3, NIV). (Dr James Dobson, from a Focus on the Family article, “An Open Letter to the American Military.”