Keep Your Military Marriage Strong
By agreeing to make marriage a priority before the deployed spouse receives active orders, the union between a military husband and wife will not only be able to bear the stresses and emotions of deployment, but may actually gain in strength. While marriage isn’t always easy, our current culture would have us believe that if we don’t achieve instant happiness and gratification, then something must be wrong. In actuality, the strongest marriages are like strong trees… they must start with the roots, or basics, and be given time to grow and flourish.
Due to the nature of a job in the armed forces, military marriages have their own unique set of circumstances that can sometimes seem overwhelming, such as long separations, repeated readjustments, frequent moves, and lapses of misunderstanding and mistrust. This is why it is so important that we never take those fundamental vows of marriage for granted. Start with Commitment: While it’s natural for feelings of love and affection to fluctuate in any marriage, commitment creates a solid bond that is difficult to break. When both of you wholeheartedly agree to be there for each other no matter what, for better or for worse, you will be that much more capable of weathering any storm you encounter.
Trust, trust and more trust: When separated by time as well as distance, trust is of paramount importance. Remember to always give each other the benefit of the doubt, and put forth enough of your energy and attention so that your spouse won’t have a reason to question your loyalty.Love covers many flaws: Some of the habits your spouse exhibited when you were dating, and which you may have considered to be cute at the time, may be the same things that you may now find a bit irritating. This is why it is so important to remember what attracted you to each other in the first place and what you value in each other today. Here’s a helpful hint - Remember to keep the size of your love greater than the size of your expectations!
Communicate: While women generally love to talk and men not so much, communication doesn’t have to involve hours of intimate conversation. Starting at a young age, boys make friends by doing things together. When they become men, they want to do the same with their wives. If you do something with your husband that he enjoys, such as watching a football game or painting the fence, you will not only generate more opportunities for discussion, you will also add another layer of closeness to your marriage.
Since deployment inevitably limits the actual amount of “shoulder to shoulder” time you have together, take advantage of the time you are together to develop these moments and come up with creative ways of maintaining the line of communication while he is away. As a military spouse, remember to keep your priorities in order. If you do this, your marriage will be strong enough to withstand time, feelings of frustration, and even deployment.
How many wives or husbands of service members are alone most of the time with nothing productive to occupy their day? Some researchers suggest that about 80% of people married to service men and women don’t have any kind of continuous daily activity to occupy themselves with. This is a very high percentage of spouses who aren’t spending their time effectively. Because of this research and the results of similar studies, the military offers plenty of options for wives or husbands who want to go back to school at a college or university –or even through online educational programs. Paying for a good education can be tough so take advantage of the advantages offered to spouses of military personnel, apply for a scholarship, and get back to into school. By doing so you’ll be using your time more productively, you’ll be learning new things and you’ll be giving yourself the chance of having more, and much better, job opportunities.
You have the tools you need to spend your time more productively and learn new things. Make sure to use these resources as they were designed especially for you. Scholarships are very beneficial as you can use some of the money to buy books, a laptop, or to pay for day care for children.
Thanks to the Family Readiness Group (FRG) program, spouses of service members can keep the lines of communication open with their loved ones and also receive the support and feeling of belonging that is such a comfort you are part of the military fold. Originally organized by Army families for the purpose of joining together in times of war, overseas assignments or other isolated duty stations, the groups have been instrumental in providing information, moral support and social networking for military families. The program was so successful that it continued to gain in popularity and was eventually adopted by all branches of the armed forces. On the whole, spouses who have chosen to be active members of an FRG have found it to be a positive experience. Not only have they been much better able to cope with changing life situations, but they report that there lives as military spouses have been all the richer.
Prior to the inception of this program, you had to have an “in” to find out what was going on in your spouse’s unit. Basically, you had to know someone who knew someone to obtain any important details that could possibly affect your life. In the past, the best venues for acquiring such information were usually the First Sergeant or the Commander’s wives… that is, if you could find a way to establish a relationship with them. The better your relationship, the more descriptive and candid the details would be. Thanks to the creation of Family Readiness Groups (known as Family Support Groups until June of 2000), those covert days came to an end and information became much more fluid and available for military family members.
The main purpose of the FRG is to provide genuine family support whenever and wherever it is needed, and to keep the lines of communication open and flowing in a given unit throughout the duration of a mission, whether at home or away. The groups offer social activities with other military spouses and family members so you never feel like you are alone. In fact, the people you meet through your involvement in the program often become your own extended family, and close friendships are formed that last a lifetime.
Group members include married and unmarried service members, spouses and other family members, as well as civilians, community volunteers, extended families, fiancés, retirees and significant others. As no two FRGs are exactly the same, the success of a particular group is largely dependent on the level of commitment provided by its members. Some offer classes and workshops, referrals, and work together to organize unit send-off festivities and welcome home celebrations for the deployed service members. While it is definitely advantageous to participate in your unit’s FRG, it is not a requirement. However, if you do choose to get involved, there are opportunities to assume leadership roles within the groups. Not only would this be beneficial to the group’s success as a whole, it will also be something else to add to your resume.