Let’s face it – marriage isn’t easy. Being married to the military is even harder. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of everyday life with work, errands, wrangling kids, dinner…..add in deployments, TDYs, and training, and some days seem nearly impossible. My husband retired from the Navy more than 10 years ago, but the memories of lonely days and nights during deployment and the waiting and uncertainty that comes just before a PCS still trigger a pit in my stomach!
Last year, as my 25th wedding anniversary approached, I felt like there must certainly be some sort of wise advice I could share to encourage a fellow military spouse who’s just starting her military marriage or another who may be going through a tough time. After all, 25 years is a long time.
I don’t claim to have some magical secret to staying married for 25 years. The truth is, there is no secret – we’re all different and what’s most important is that you choose what’s right for the two of you.
But I still felt called to share my experience in the hopes of inspiring someone who might need it. But what exactly would I say and how do I share it? I kept thinking and waiting for the perfect idea to pop into my head.
It’s funny how you put an idea out there, waiting for a sign or hoping your subconscious will come up with something epic while you’re sleeping. But that’s exactly what happened to me; and just like that, the universe conspired to bring me together with Corie Weathers.
I’ve been a fan of Corie after hearing her speak at the annual InDependent Wellness Summit and to be honest, I was fan-girling a whole lot when her e-mail popped into my inbox.
Corie is a fellow military spouse and 2015 Military Spouse of the Year, and a clinical consultant for military and first-responder families. Through her Lifegiver organization and her book “Sacred Spaces - My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage,” Corie has touched the hearts of many military marriages.
Corie's Lifegiver Mission
Corie’s mission began with a deployment, honest conversations, and an idea for a simple blue bracelet to help others commit to their military marriage. Hear the story in her own words…..
“After a particularly rough deployment, Corie and her Army Chaplain husband, Matthew realized that some of the experiences they had gone through apart had changed them. Some of the changes were good, and some of them brought conflict into their relationship. They felt disconnected, out of sync. As Matt would try to share stories from his deployment, some of them life altering, Corie struggled to understand because she had not been with him to experience it too.
He, likewise, struggled to do the same when she described how community had stepped in during his absence. How strong she now felt for doing it all on her own. In an effort to close the gap between them, they coined the phrase “Sacred Spaces” to cue each other that the story they were sharing was a significant moment that the other person couldn’t fully understand. It was a cue to “tread lightly”, respectfully, and listen to each other in kindness. It was then they realized that their marriage could indeed experience all that this service lifestyle throws at them as long as they kept pursuing each other.
In 2015, Corie’s book "Sacred Spaces- My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage" inspired couples to close the gaps in their service marriage by committing to one small act of kindness towards their spouse every day. Blue paracord bracelets were given as a daily reminder of that promise. Hundreds of marriages were impacted, and the movement continues to grow today.”
The Blue Bracelet - An Everyday Reminder
Corie continued to share those paracord bracelets but wished for something more elegant and meaningful to represent how she felt about marriage. Her vision paired perfectly with our belief here at Charliemadison Originals that a simple, yet meaningful bracelet can keep you connected with what you cherish most.
So when she told me about her wish for a blue bracelet – both elegant and meaningful – that would serve as an everyday reminder to keep you focused on strengthening your marriage, I knew the stars had aligned. What a perfect way to not only bring her mission to life, but also to honor the 25 years I’ve spent married to my service member.
Meet the New Lifegiver Bracelet
And so, the Lifegiver Bracelet was born! It’s a beautiful way to take the Sacred Spaces challenge. The Lifegiver Bracelet keeps with the same blue color theme but adds two Rose Quartz stones that symbolize two unfinished souls that are challenged to forgive, open their hearts, heal emotional wounds, and establish peace. It’s meant to be an everyday reminder that you have more influence than you think to change the course of your marriage.
Here are 6 everyday intentions behind the Lifegiver Bracelet – sweet little reminders to keep you focused on your commitment to your military marriage:
1- The two unfinished Rose Quartz nuggets symbolize you and your spouse – they are reminders that you are both unfinished and flawed human beings, in need of grace and forgiveness from each other.
2- Rose Quartz encourages honesty, communication, and love – when you communicate, you must be honest with yourself and your spouse.
3- Intentionally choosing to wear a daily reminder of your commitment to your spouse will help you stick to that commitment.
4- Choose to pursue one small act of love in your marriage every single day.
5- Be mindful about communicating instead of harboring resentment toward the difficulty of the military or first-responder lifestyle – not allowing it to come between you and your spouse.
6- The meaningful, beautiful, and elegant piece you slip on your wrist will remind you how beautiful, elegant and priceless your marriage is.
After designing this beautiful tribute to marriage and talking to Corie about her own experiences in her military marriage, I finally decided on the little piece of advice I wanted to pass along in celebration of 25 years of marriage.
I also asked two of my fellow military spouse friends to share their experiences in their military marriage so that we can shine a light on the incredible commitment and sacrifice so many of us make when we choose to love a service member.
Celebrating Military Marriage - From one military spouse to another
“PATIENCE, just "hop on the train and enjoy the ride." You will have ups and downs, so communication is a BIG part of it. Listen to what your spouse is saying and absorb it before you react. I stayed VERY busy during deployments by being involved, whether it was volunteering, spouses clubs, leading a running group, church, cooking, gardening, wine tasting...LOL and even a little BRAVO TV to get me through the times he was away. Sounds cliché but really don’t sweat the small stuff and ask questions.”
~Jenn Smith, Army spouse, Imperfect Balance By Jenn
“Communication, willingness to compromise, and to truly listen to your partner. And throw out the idea of what marriage should be! Each couple, each marriage is its unit of the TWO of you coming together. Make marriage YOUR own; not the picture-perfect image you hold on a pedestal and hold your marriage hostage to. Don't hold things in; communicate with your spouse about things that make you upset, your goals, dreams….. whatever is on your mind.
For the past 14 years, we have lived a life of inconsistency. His schedule has never been the same week to week or month to month or year to year. Add in two kiddos, deployments/underways, too many to count TDYs, schools and training, switch in branches, 6 PCS’s and living in 11 different homes. I don't think we would have made it work without communication. And unless you communicate your needs, they will not know! Don't expect your partner to be a mind reader.”
~Stacy Bilodeau, Coast Guard spouse, 2018 AFI's Coast Guard Military Spouse of the Year
“Time will pass and each season of life will change you – sometimes in unexpected ways. But despite the challenges you face, marriage takes commitment and compromise. It’s a mutual belief in growing together, through each season, and deciding that you want to share a life together. That you’re much better together than apart.”
~Wendy Hively, Navy spouse, Founder | Charliemadison Originals