Military spouses, almost immediately after saying “I do,” realize that being married to a service member brings its own unique challenges. Aside from unexpected moves, forced separation and countless other military-related things, we also know a marriage in itself can create difficult challenges.
Last month, I shared with you 5 Things That Can Destroy a Military Marriage. It was a list identifying specific actions that cause problems in our relationships, particularly those married to service members.
Again, I turned to my parents for inspiration on the things we can do to help us nurture and ultimately save a military marriage. Here’s what I learned.
In a military marriage, it’s important to:
1. Communicate with each other. I think it’s one of the biggest things you should do. How many of us like to complain? I’m totally guilty of it and it’s totally natural to get annoyed and shut down. But when we shut down and stay silent, we stop communicating with our service member. That’s not good in a military marriage.
Most of the things that can destroy your marriage can be resolved by communicating and listening.
If you approach every conversation with an open heart and mind, communicating with your spouse can help clear a lot of conflict. Remember to be understanding and use this dialogue between to find a compromise. Because of how important it is to listen to each other, speak taking turns, so you don’t overpower each other.
Also, don’t let distance stop you. Even if your spouse is away, use the form of communication that is available. The Internet was how my husband and I spoke to each other while he was overseas and it helped us work through our issues.
2. Compliment your partner. In addition to openly communicating, it’s just as important to compliment each other in the things that we do love about each other. Compliment on things that are done for you and also on “just because” things.
I’m a sucker for my husband’s smile and if you know him, you know that his smile doesn’t appear that often (he’s quite a serious dude). So, at the moments I see that smile from ear to ear, I tell him how much I love seeing it. As a result, I actually see that smile a lot more– must be a subliminal thing!
Don’t let it stop at physical compliments. Take it to an emotional level too. It’s said that complimenting increases self-confidence and self-worth, so it’s a great way to strengthen your bond.
3. Date each other. We all know that separation is difficult. It can even create distance when you and your spouse are back together because we get used to our solo routine. Don’t take your cohabiting time for granted! Dedicate quality time for the two of you. Whether you and your spouse agree to try a brand-new activity or do something that is near and dear to both of you, it’s really important to keep the romance alive.
4. Allow for space. It is a little weird to say that being alone is important after encouraging you to communicate and date, but maintaining your own personal space gives you and your partner the necessary downtime needed to recharge and get your mind back on track. Alone time allows me to reflect on my relationships. As a result, my marriage is stronger because of the balance I have with myself and my husband.
5. Embrace each other and military life. First, physical contact can remind us of the love we have for our spouse. There is something special about the warmth of a hug or the touch of a hand. For me, it’s soothing. The mere thought of hugging my husband makes me feel happy.
Second, you must choose to embrace your marriage and the military. Let’s be honest, some disputes might actually stem from an extenuating military circumstance. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve been downright upset or confused (sometimes I mix the two) because of a military-related decision. You both can blame each other for what the military throws your way. Instead, embrace the lifestyle together.