Over eleven years ago I stood in a chapel wearing a black skirt and white sweater and married a man in dress blues. We were 19 and 21. We were madly in love. We packed up a U-Haul and drove 1000 miles from St. Louis, MO to Charleston, SC where we would live together for the first time. Everything was amazing. We didn’t have furniture, not even a bed. We slept on the floor and couldn’t even afford an air mattress. But it was fine because we were in love. My parents hated this. They also strongly disliked my husband for taking me away, but again, we didn’t care because we were in love. Every night was a picnic on the floor and ever day he came home from work was a honeymoon, because we were soo in LOVE!
Fast forward to present day and we have two kids, three dogs, two cars, a mortgage, more stuff than we need and I wanted to throw my shoe at the back of his head today. I can still picture that adorable couple in Charleston without anything to their name but a futon and a car. They were contagious. I love to daydream about that time in our life when nothing was ever a problem and little imaginary hearts danced above or heads.
Today, we are still very much in love, but marriage takes work.
After one of my recent columns, a reader asked how I’m still happily married after reading that my husband has over seven years of straight sea time. Frankly, at first I laughed out loud and said, “easily he was never home!” I kid, I kid.
I’d be lying if I said we have never gone to bed angry or that we always put each other first. But honestly it is due to our commitment to each other, good communication and sharing an amazing sense of humor. Every couple is different, but I am happy to share what works for us.
We talk constantly, even when he is deployed. Yes, we go for weeks without contact, but if I write an email, it will eventually get to him. If it doesn’t, they are numbered and I print them so that I can send them in a mail drop. My husband does the same and tries to write me every day as well. Sometimes he literally only has time for a sentence that says, “I love you and I miss you”, and that is all I need to get through a day. I know that may sound silly to some, but Sub wives know how powerful that email can be. Wives are reading this saying to themselves, “But my husband doesn’t like to write!?” The reason my husband does this is because I asked him to. I know that it is what I need from him to get through a deployment, so he makes sure to find the time. You have to ask for what you want and need. Your spouse cannot read your mind.
When my husband is home, we take time out of our night to talk. Not just casual talking while we make dinner together and watch the kids play, but sit down time where there are no distractions. Usually this is when the kids are in bed. We curl up in the chairs in our bedroom and go over our day and share a thought or feeling. This is something that isn’t easy to do, but it was suggested to us years ago and it works. We’ve accomplished a lot sitting in those chairs. We made career choices, settled arguments, and just reconnected.
People that know us can tell you we love to laugh. We are constantly teasing with each other and our sense of humor has made our marriage entertaining to say the least.
We just have fun. A little romance doesn’t hurt either. The husband still opens my car door, holds my hand, and will make me a cup of hot tea without me even asking. I make it a point to stop what I am doing and to say hello when he walks in the door. It’s sounds small and unnecessary, but try it. It is a conscious effort to put someone else before you. I also like to send him a text or email at work and let him know that I love him and give him a reason to hurry home.
No one has the perfect marriage or life. Things happen. People you love make mistakes and the ones you love the most, can also hurt you the most. I make it a point to tell my husband I love him, even when I don’t like him very much. God forbid tomorrow doesn’t come, I want him to know that even though he made me upset, I love him with all my heart.
It’s easy to think you’ve fallen out of love or grown apart when those magical first years have passed. So many people think the marriage isn’t good anymore when all it really needs is some work. For the guys, there is an easy way to understand this. Treat your marriage like the car you’ve always wanted. If you buy a brand new car, it’s amazing just how it is for a while. You don’t have to do anything to enjoy it, but then it requires maintenance to keep it in great condition. If you don’t do the required maintenance, it will eventually fall apart. And if you go out of your way to do a little extra work, you are going to get so much more from it than you gave.
If my husband did the things that bother me now at the beginning of our marriage, I wouldn’t have even noticed. The little hearts dancing around my head would have blocked my view. Now, I love him more than ever and I have the urge to throw my shoe at him when he tells me he shrunk my favorite cashmere sweater.
Marriage is an ever-changing and evolving partnership. If you are not in a good place now with your spouse, take the time to do some maintenance. Don’t let it fall apart. The Military gives you access to free and amazing services such as your Chaplin, consoler, and many classes offered on the base. Want to see someone off base? Tricare covers that too. Speak to your local Tricare representative for more information.
Do you have a topic you would like to see discussed in this column? Question or comment? Email Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org