Love SOS- Resuscitate your Relationship
Resuscitate your Relationship!
The never-ending demands of military life can place a marital union on life support. When you’re married to a service member, it’s a marriage of three: You, your spouse and Uncle Sam. With deployments, child-rearing and PCSing, some days there’s more to loathe about being a military spouse than there is to love.
When you’re a new military spouse, everything is all gravy, right? You don’t mind the long wait times to fill a prescription at the installation pharmacy because, in most cases, you don’t have a copay. And it’s all good that your spouse has to deploy AGAIN, because that’s part of the job, duty and sacrifice. But a few years or decades into this thing, the circumstances you found appealing now are a bit annoying. And little by little, those circumstances can chip away at your happily ever after – but only if we let them.
Take heart: Your relationship can be revived. Your outlook can be renewed. With Valentine’s Day approaching, we thought we’d share some advice to help breathe new life into military marriages.
Here are five tips to rekindle your romance:
- Make each other a priority
In most families with children, the children are the priority. Every decision revolves around their well-being. While our children should definitely be a priority in our lives, they should not always be THE priority. Your marriage relationship needs nurturing, too. Every day, try to set aside some time to just be with your spouse – just the two of you. Here are some suggestions to accomplish this:
- Have a weekly lunch date – Bond over a quick bite and focus on each other.
Take younger children to hourly care at the Child Development Center or ask a friend or someone you trust to watch your children for an hour while you and your spouse have lunch.
- Schedule a reoccurring date night – Watch a movie together after the kids have gone to bed. Or at least once a month, get dolled up to go out for a night on the town.
- Give your undivided attention to each other – It’s easy to scroll through your cell phone and half listen to your spouse when they’re talking. Instead, put away your phone, make eye contact, and really listen to what your spouse has to say. This simple gesture conveys to them that what they have to say is important and takes precedence over anything else in that moment.
NOTE: If your spouse is deployed or on an unaccompanied tour, try to FaceTime, Zoom or Skype to maintain a connection. If that’s not an option, then over a telephone call, spend a few moments reflecting on the strengths and goals of your relationship. If all else fails, email love letters to each other through your private accounts.
- Practice self-care
You’ve heard the saying, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” Essentially, this means you must take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. If you’re emotionally and physically drained, you cannot give 100 percent to anyone or anything. Self-care means doing what refuels and nourishes your mind, body and soul.
It can be:
- Taking up a new hobby
- Taking a 30-minute nap
- Going to the spa
- Getting a manicure/pedicure
- Reading a book
- Exercising/taking a walk
- Daily meditation/prayer
- Talking to a trusted friend
When you’re recharged, you can give the best of yourself to your spouse.
- Don’t compare your relationship to anyone else’s
Everyone is different; therefore, every relationship is different. Just as our military journeys differ based on unique factors such as branch, occupation, rank, prior service, etc.; our marriage journeys can differ based on unique factors such as number of years together, extended family history, traditions, values and beliefs. It’s critical to the well-being of our unions that we do not measure our relationship against anyone else’s. Instead, we should focus on the good attributes of our own marriages and do the daily work necessary to sustain our own relationship.
- Minimize Uncle Sam’s influence
This is difficult to do because “he” is everywhere and involved in every major life decision: next duty station, assignment length, deployments, etc. However, we can reclaim some areas of our lives in order to maintain healthy marital relationships. Here are some examples:
- Carve out moments of togetherness before, during and after a PCS.
- Before or after our service member deploys, goes to the field, or leaves on temporary duty, go on a getaway to reconnect.
- Offer grace, patience and a listening ear to our service members dealing with the strains of missions or leadership roles.
- When given options, choose the one that imposes the least amount of stress on your marriage.
- Seek marital counseling, if needed
We’ve said it before: seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. If you’ve exhausted these and other options and you still feel disconnected, please:
- Schedule counseling with a chaplain on base. Check with the chaplain about marriage retreats and other programs to help enrich married life.
- Schedule free, confidential marriage counseling through Military One Source by calling 800-342-9647. Or visit this link for more information on marriage enrichment programs within each branch: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/relationships/married-domestic-partner/marriage-enrichment-programs/
Our spouses’ time in the military is temporary. It will end – one day. Our unions are forever. We can have a fulfilling, healthy, vibrant marriage, we just have to work at it – till death do us part!