As I reflect on 25 years of military marriage, I don’t claim to have the “secrets” to making a military marriage last. I do believe that for any marriage to work, you need communication and compromise, and must make time to connect with each other.
Military marriage adds in a few extra twists and turns. What’s most important is that you choose what works for the two of you.
On August 14, I’m joining forces with an amazing group of fellow military spouses for an event in the inaugural celebration of Military Marriage Day. Just like military life, 2020 has shown us how challenging and unpredictable each day can be. Which is why this celebration of love and marriage is needed now, more than ever.
Lessons from a Military Marriage
In honor of military marriages around the world, here are three lessons I’ve learned after being married to my Navy hero for 25 years.
REMEMBER WHO'S ON YOUR SIDE
The only thing certain in life is change – isn’t that how the saying goes? Well it’s definitely true for military life. It’s easy to forget that anyone is on your side when plans change from day to day. When you’re waiting for your next orders, only to find that you aren’t going where you thought you were. Yep, that’s military life!
For those of us who crave stability, security, and consistency, military life is a challenge. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t quick to embrace all the uncertainty of military life. Maybe I didn’t even appreciate it until after retirement.
The military may not have your back when it comes to what’s best for your marriage, but you and your spouse do. Stop every now and then to remember why you chose each other, why you decided you were better together than apart.
My husband and I might not always be on the same page (especially when it comes to raising teenagers), but I know he always has my best interests at heart and I have his. We are a team, despite the constant change, uncertainty, and stress that goes along with military life.
THE DAYS ARE LONG BUT THE YEARS FLY BY - MAKE THE MOMENTS COUNT
Life is short, but the days can feel incredibly long – especially when you’re counting down the days of a deployment, training, or separation. Yet even when your spouse is “home,” long work hours may mean that you aren’t often together at home.
That’s why it’s so important to adapt and squeeze the most out of every moment you have together. When you get that precious alone time, be spontaneous – spend the time doing something you love. We often define our lives by the big moments, but it’s really the small, in-between moments that count.
IT MAY NOT SEEM LIKE AN ADVENTURE AT THE TIME
I’ll never forget the day my husband got orders to Okinawa, Japan – I was devastated. I didn’t want to move, especially that far from home. I was no stranger to living overseas. I lived the first 9 years of my life in foreign countries.
But this time I was moving away from a job I loved and a close-knit family within driving distance. As with all things military, there wasn’t a choice. We were moving.
Three years in Okinawa flew by in a flash. We embraced every part of the culture – living off base in a traditional Japanese apartment, snorkeling in the crystal clear ocean, eating the Okinawan cuisine, making new friends, and visiting parks, beaches, and ancient castles. It was an adventure of a lifetime and after almost 20 years, I still miss Okinawa every day.
That PCS taught me a lot about life, family, and seizing adventure wherever you find it. Military family life has its challenges, but you can find an adventure anywhere if you’re just willing to open your eyes and pay attention.
Celebrating Military Marriage
After 25 years of marriage to my military hero, I am filled with gratitude for the lessons I’ve learned and the incredible memories we’ve made together. It is an honor to join with my fellow military spouses to celebrate the inaugural Military Marriage Day on August 14 – a day to shine a light on military marriage and the value that it brings to our community and to our armed service missions.
Why Military Marriage Day?
“Military Marriage Day is strategically placed 6 months from Valentine’s Day as a second opportunity to celebrate love. In addition, the holiday is much needed as the anticipated divorce rate will rise due to the COVID-19 quarantine impacts on relationships. The intended day will celebrate married couples currently serving or that have served and their commitment to one another and the ideal that “we are stronger together”.
To celebrate Marriage Day couples should set aside time to strengthen their relationship. Festive expressions include planning a date night, special outings, or exchanging gifts or tokens of appreciation.
Those who wish to work on their marriage may schedule counseling services or participate in a conference or seminar focused on strengthening marriage. Married couples are encouraged to celebrate in all ways that are meaningful to them.”
In fact, I won’t just be celebrating my military marriage but also my military hero, whose birthday just happens to be the same day. How sweet it is!
I hope you’ll make a commitment to your military marriage and join us for the 1st Annual Military Marriage Day celebration event that kicks off on August 7.
RSVP for this FREE event and enter to win some amazing prizes (over 30 giveaways!), including a Charliemadison Bracelet for you and him!