Is your marriage feeling stuck? Heather offers marriage tips from her experiences as a military wife. Includes a free worksheet to plan a simple at-home date night!
My husband and I just passed our 10 year anniversary. Because he’s a Navy pilot, we’ve spent two years total over the last ten hovering over FaceTime screens and firing off emails to each other instead of living in the same house.
You’d think that a deployment would destroy a marriage.
And it certainly does in some cases. But for us, our relationship grew in unbelievable and unexpected ways during our times apart.
Not to mention, add a couple kids into the mix and you really see what your relationship is made of. Marriage with toddlers is no joke, and we have laughed, cried, and blown our fuses many times as we raise our three girls.
Thankfully, we’ve fallen hard onto God’s grace and He has allowed us to learn from our mistakes, to understand each other better, and to continue to grow and strive to keep our marriage healthy.
We love having date nights- they help us stay connected! If you want to plan an at-home date night super quickly and easily, grab my “Plan A Date” Worksheet. You can get it here:
You’re Not Alone
I want you to know you’re not alone. If you’ve had different opinions on how to handle your children, so have we. Ever moved to a new city and for better or for worse, your husband was your only friend? Me too. Have you gone through infertility and clung to each other after learning of yet another miscarriage? I hope you haven’t, but if so, we have walked that road as well.
Marriage is hard, it’s glorious, it can be so fun and then so frustrating.
I’m excited that you’re reading this post because I know that means that you are holding onto hope for your marriage. That you want to grow it, to save it, to foster it, to hold onto it like a cowboy hanging onto a buckin’ bronco for dear life.
Don’t let go.
You’ve come this far– take a minute to read these seven marriage tips and see if any resonate with where you’re at today. There just might be something here that could spark your hope, give you a boost of encouragement or let you know you’re on the right track.
7 Crucial Marriage Tips I Learned In 10 Years As A Military Wife
Through all the challenges, we’ve had to work hard on our marriage. The hard times caused us to draw battle lines and feel like we had to get our own way. They also drew us together (often after a hot-tempered argument) and allowed our marriage to grow in a way it never could have otherwise.
Today I’m sharing 7 tokens of wisdom I’ve gathered over the years, with hope that you might be encouraged in your own relationship.
1- Life Is Too Short, Keep A Sense Of Humor
My husband can make me laugh by just being himself. He has a dry, goofy, witty sense of humor all blended into one, which somehow is the perfect fit for me.
But sometimes, if I’m stressed or over-tired, his humor falls flat. In fact, when I don’t like his jokes, it’s a signal to me that I must be a bit off.
I’ve learned so much from his perspective, because sometimes life brings surprises.
Like when a hurricane knocked out our power the weekend before my middle daughter’s due date, and we lugged our oldest, the hospital bag and a bunch of other crap to the hotel on base. I was the one stressing and he kept his cool and kept things light-hearted with his quips about giving birth in the hotel bathtub.
I wanted to punch him but I also needed that bit of humor to get me through.
2- I Learned The True Source Of My Strength
When I got married, I couldn’t imagine all the challenges I would go through without hubby around.
I had to go through our first miscarriage without him present. I had gotten pregnant when visiting him on deployment in Japan. It was still a couple of months before he got back, and we found out that I was pregnant and later that I had lost the baby, all before his return.
I’ve also had to move homes without him and deliver a child while he was deployed, but in all those things I experienced the amazing peace that passes understanding.
I got through each challenge with the help of friends and family, and long distance conversations with him. As difficult events arose, we faced them one-by-one with God’s strength. I failed a lot and received a lot of grace from God and others.
When Adam deployed, I found that I was much stronger than I thought I was. I also learned that God is much stronger than I realized. And I found the limit of my own strength which allowed me to receive from others.
DATE NIGHT IDEA: If you want to boost your marriage today, grab my FREE “Plan A Date” Worksheet. It’s a simple, 3-step tool to quickly plan an at-home date night, and you can get it here:
3- Let Him Be Himself
Ok I think I’ll still be learning this lesson for a while, but it’s starting to sink in. My husband is such a great dad. The girls adore him.
And for the longest time, I would get upset when he wouldn’t parent the way I thought He should or do things the way I do them.
But the truth is that the girls need him to be himself. They benefit from having Dad do things his own way. And I can let go of control and even learn a thing or two on occasion.
And, not surprisingly, this builds our relationship because he can see that I’m trusting him more. It gives me opportunities to genuinely build him up and let him know how awesome of a dad he is. And I get to see even more how we are a team in this parenting thing.
All of that positivity is so good for our relationship!
4- Don’t Make Your Spouse Your Only Close Friend
It’s hard to make friends as an adult, but our spouses can’t be our only deep relationship. They should be your closest confidant, for sure. But we need the perspective and support of others too.
Friends and acquaintances fill in the gaps our partners can’t fill.
Like if I expect my husband to have a lengthy discussion about all the options I’m considering for the curtains in the living room, forget it. But if I call my bestie, I could spend an hour on the subject.
Every time we move, I gain a renewed understanding of the value of friendship, because I have to start over with a new community.
I’ve learned that it’s worth it to stumble through the nerves and try to meet people right away. That way, I can have fun with friends and when I get back around Adam, I am not attention-starved. My experiences with others helps me grow, vent and expand my thinking. Then I have more to bring into my marriage relationship.
5- Unmet Expectations = Frustration
I talk a lot about this idea in my post “Recipe For A Happy Marriage” The idea is that if we have different expectations, it can lead to disagreements, hurt feelings, and general frustration.
It’s super important to learn how to express your expectations before issues arise.
When we miss that window and frustrations happen, we need to talk it through and get back on the same page. Most of the time we don’t mean to hurt each other, we just have a different understanding of what should be happening.
This phrase has saved us a lot of heartache!
6- Emotions Come And Go
I don’t always feel gushing with love toward my spouse. That doesn’t mean he isn’t the “right person” for me. It just means I feel the way I feel in that moment.
Feelings come and go. Love is more than a feeling, it’s a commitment.
There’s usually a reason for feelings being off. I may be over-tired, struggling with trying to get my kids to eat vegetables, or hey, even on my monthly cycle.
Several years ago, when we’d just gotten through a cross-country move, we didn’t like the house we ended up in. We were starting the fertility process over again, we had few friends, and then we had another miscarriage… so things kinda sucked.
Hubby and I were NOT in sync. It wasn’t like I didn’t love him– far from it. But my emotions toward him felt flat, especially as I processed and healed physically and emotionally from our loss.
After the miscarriage, we had some big differences in opinion on our housing situation. We took the time and effort to work through our issues, and we began to connect and enjoy each other more again. And, throughout the process, my emotions bounced back to a more normal state as well.
7- The Rewards Of A Good Marriage Are Worth Fighting For
The things that are the most rewarding in life are often the things we sacrifice for, put our time into, and stand strong through.
Your relationship isn’t stuck where it is now.
There’s always hope for a fresh start, a new beginning. Forgiveness goes a long way toward that new start, and doing acts of love toward your spouse– even if you don’t feel like it– can create a space for reconnecting.
Don’t buy into the lie that your marriage is never going to grow or that it’s not worth the effort. You can start now to make positive changes in your relationship, whether you have a strong marriage or a faltering one.
If you want to fight for your marriage and reap the rewards of investing in your relationships, grab my free list of the “Top 5 Loving Actions To Strengthen Your Marriage Daily.” It’s in my “Rock Mom-Life & Marriage” Bundle and you can get access to it below: