At least once, all new and seasoned spouses have asked themselves the same question: How do I maintain a healthy marriage?
There are no simple or quick fixes and let’s face it, being a Marine Corps wife can compound the challenge. There’s no 9-5 job and we have to discuss funeral wishes, wills and POAs when most civilian couples are still in the honeymoon phase. Absolutely no one has a perfect marriage but hopefully we can all learn from others’ experiences to obtain or maintain a healthy marriage.
1. Communication. Learning the art of having a solid positive communicative foundation in your relationship is a hurdle you have jump. Issues only get more complex as the years go by. Fluffy surface stuff like “hi/bye, kiss me, I love you” get you nowhere. I’m talking about deep conversations into the how and why; plans of action for confrontational in-laws; finances, overspending, financial planning; how to raise your kids, etc. Two people have become one and finding a neutral ground of compromise is a delicate balance. Compromise doesn’t mean submission; it means you can have an honest conversation without feeling slighted or run over.
2. Maintenance. You will get out of your marriage what you put into it. You don’t overheat your car without getting it checked out; the same concept goes for a marriage. Aboard almost all bases there are counselors you can see and classes you can attend. The 5 Love Languages and the 4 Lenses classes introduce you to personality types and how to mesh them into your relationship so both parties feel validated, important and respected. People go to the doctor for regular check-ups to prevent serious issues. Marriage maintenance is the same.
3. Reality. We live a unique life that takes tremendous effort to communicate and maintain our marriage due to unaccompanied duty stations, deployments, trainings, etc. Marine Corps marriage is a huge reality check. Priorities have to shift because the reality is you can’t get upset when he isn’t around or doesn’t remember to celebrate that second Wednesday in June when you two kissed for the third time under a full moon and you were wearing red heels with your favorite jeans.
4. Salt & Pepper. Everyone knows salt and pepper are added for taste, with occasional additional spices thrown in. So it should be in a marriage. If you’ll consistently show undeniable love, respect, support, thoughtfulness, understanding and patience for each other, spicy romance and extra goodies should automatically follow suit.
We’ve all heard the saying that anything worth fighting for won’t be easy and that’s exactly what Marine Corps marriage is. Marriage is meant to complement your attributes and personality so while you’ll constantly evolve into being a better person and an outstanding Marine Corps spouse because of your Marine, but remember to enjoy the ride along the way. A spoonful of sugar will not make our lives easier as much as I’d love it to, but leaning on each other for support and following the steps above may help a bit.