Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Military Marriage

My husband and I are nearing 17 years of being together and will be celebrating 11 years of marriage in June.  We've often been asked how we make it work.  After all, military marriages do not have the greatest success rate.  In fact, there were 27,312 divorces (active-duty) throughout all four branches of the military in 2009 alone.  Sobering stats, aren't they?
We are not experts and our marriage has not been perfect by any means.  It has required a lot of work, patience, give and take, tears, and a lot of prayer. 

What works for us?

Faith and Friends: In the military, the mission always comes first.  In our marriage, God comes first.  Before we get stationed at a new base, the first thing we start researching is churches.  When we find a church, we attend and get involved as a family.  We try and surround ourselves with Christian friends who will build us up.  It is important for each of us to get involved with men and women's groups, so we can have accountability.  We established early on in our marriage that we will keep personal issues to ourselves, and not bash each other in front of our friends.  If we have an issue with each other, we discuss it.

Family: We have fun together!  Shortly after our oldest daughter was born, we designated Friday night as family movie, or game night.  We can do these activities regardless of where we are.  It is something we all look forward to and have a part in.  We make a fun meal, choose a few movies to watch, or games to play, and the kids help prepare the snacks.  We also laugh with each other.  On Sunday, one of the greeters at church walked down the sidewalk by our vehicle as we were unloading the kids.  I turned around, extended my hand to shake his and said, "good morning!"  When I looked up, it was my husband.  The greeter was long gone.  We're still laughing about this.

Finances: Money can be a huge source of conflict in a marriage.  After a few years of being married, we finally figured out a plan.  We share the financial responsibilities.
My husband brings home the paycheck.
He is in charge of his TSP (retirement fund), college funds for the kids, and savings.
I pay all of our bills, deal with our insurance, and do our taxes.
We budget together.
Being I am able to stay at home, I feel it is my job to save us as much money as possible.
I cut coupons, use coupon and free shipping codes for online purchases, use gas points when filling up our vehicles, meal plan, and earn checks through consigning.  When our kids grow out of their clothes and shoes, I consign them and use that money for their new clothes and shoes.
We pay cash for everything, and have one credit card for emergencies.
We always buy used vehicles and work on paying them off right away.
We don't discuss finances when there are stressors around us.  We set aside a specific time, when it is quiet and kid free.

Love: We usually don't get couple-time until after the kids go to bed.  By that time, we are usually so exhausted we just sit on the couch, talk, and rub each other's feet.  If he rents a "shoot-em'-up" action movie, or I rent a romantic comedy, we watch the movie together, no matter how uninterested we may be! 
As you all know, date night rarely happens when you are in a military marriage with kids.  There is no family around to watch the kids and trusted babysitters are hard to come by.  I think the longest stretch we had without a date was three years!  If you find yourself in the same boat, have a date night at home after the kids go to bed.  I remember my parents doing this many times when I was a kid.  Maybe that is how they've made their marriage work for 36 years!

Explore: Don't stop learning about your spouse.  My husband and I have changed so much since we first started dating.  These are some great books to read that will help you learn more about your spouse.
The Five Love Languages
Love & Respect
Sacred Marriage
Night Light for Couples
The Power of a Praying Wife
The Power of a Praying Husband

Safeguard: Set boundaries for your marriage! We live in a very corrupt world with temptations lingering around every corner.  When my husband was serving in Korea, he saw firsthand how infidelity ruined marriages.  Don't think for one minute that you are exempt from this if you are a Christian couple.  Infidelity can demolish any marriage.
The following article is very thorough and does a better job explaining why I think this is one of the most important points in keeping marriages in tact.
Did God Really Say? Setting Godly Boundaries in Marriage

Pray: Pray, pray, pray!
Pray alone, pray together.
If your husband doesn't feel comfortable praying out loud with you, put your arm around him while he is sleeping.  Pray for him, pray for yourself, your kids, your money, and your marriage.  If you are feeling distant from your spouse, ask God to help you reconnect.  Ask God to help you love your spouse again, ask Him to protect your marriage from the evils of the world.  God is always listening and wants nothing more than to be the center of your marriage. 

What do you do to keep your marriage in tact?


Unknown said...

amazing post!

AiringMyLaundry said...

Love this post.

Basically, my husband and I are both immature so it works. We laugh at fart jokes and other inappropriate things. I feel so long as a couple can laugh together, they'll stay together.

Hyacynth said...

I love your tips. I think the one my husband and I do well together is to play. But we would do better to pray together more often. That often gets overlooked. Also, love your book recs!

Jessica said...

Great post!

Us! said...

i miss you kathy. =)

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