No, no, I’m not going to give advice (this is more of an observation). I’m the last person who should be doling out marital advice. I still consider myself a newlywed (stop laughing). We’re not newly married in the definitive sense, but we behave as if we were. I think that is what makes marriage so enjoyable and fun for us. We haven’t really settled into anything and really strive not too take each other for granted. We remember that every day he is home or ashore is a gift. Trite? Sorry, but really, isn’t it?
What I have been wondering as of late is, in this tumultuous military climate, what makes most marriages work? Many people enjoy the temporary separations while others savor ashore billets. Then there are the couples who are living the GEO life and gritting their teeth as they await a family reunion that will keep them under one roof. How does everyone make it work? I imagine we all have our own ways of surviving the hard times and relishing the great times. We have our own preventative maintenance. (Too bad there's not a manual for that. Oh wait, maybe there is and it's just lost with the new baby manual.)
Just ships, helos and planes require maintenance, so do relationships. People must work hard to cultivate them—they won’t just grow and blossom into something beautiful on their own. I for one believe you cannot assume what always worked is going to keep on working. Nothing goes that smoothly, right? Couples have date nights or write letters/emails and send care packages. Some travel together and others while doing all of the aforementioned things start a family and invest time in raising their children together. Military or not, couples should know it takes two to foster the love and friendship that belongs in a marriage.
I’m the romantic in my relationship. My husband is the practical one (most of the time). I still put notes in his lunch bag and email him during the day. I leave him voice mails that he’ll receive after a flight has landed or the ship has pulled into port. Yes, I really still have that school girl crush on the love of my life. I will say that a lot of my excitement about my own marriage has been brought to the forefront of my mind recently. Some friends of ours just got married. They are young and relatively new to the Coast Guard. We also have friends who are celebrating 20 years soon and have been living this military life just about as long. The remarkable thing about these two marriages is that the couples are gushy about each other. I know that I want to have that feeling always. Sure things may get rocky and we will have our spats and big disagreements, but that doesn’t mean we cannot have our version of a wonderful marriage. We can be inspired by the love of other marriages but we don’t have to be the same in habits and traditions. We just have to remember that our marriage is our own.
Just this week, a friend of mine said she and her husband received an amazing compliment. They had inspired another couple who wanted a marriage just like theirs. (Insert ooooo-ing and aaaaahhh-ing here). Seriously, how nice is that? To be the inspiration to another couple just starting out speaks volumes, especially in this nut-so (yes, I said nut-so) lifestyle we all have. I once felt that way about a different couple, but quickly learned things were different behind closed doors. They seemed outwardly happy, but the truth was the deployments were killing them and their brave faces and happy-family-façade were all for naught. They ended up enduring some pretty public stuff, and it disheartened me for awhile because I aspired to be like them. I wanted my loving husband and me to emulate that couple.
What I learned from that unfortunate situation is that we all have to create our own happiness and be present in our own relationship. Remember that we all have our own craziness to deal with and while it may seem so, nobody’s relationship is completely perfect. So, if I were to give advice (which I’m not ;) ), I’d say: Enjoy your marriage. Have a blast and make it what you and your spouse want it to be. Love and be good to each other. Even if you find you are separated, find away to fuel that fire. After all, that’s what we military spouses do best, right? If anyone knows how to keep the home fires burning, it’s us.