My husband and I have been happily married for thirteen years now. It hasn’t been without its struggles, but we’ve made it work and have been truly happy our entire marriage. We are often asked how we’ve done it and how we stay happy. So this made me want to put together my top ways to a happy (military) marriage. A few of these pertain to military life specifically, but most will ring true for any marriage.
10 Ways to a Happy Military Marriage:
1. Resign yourself to the fact that the military comes first.
In most marriages, you have the ability to demand to be first in their life. However, in military marriages, we don’t have that luxury. We have to be willing to live a life where we take the back seat to career. The service and the needs of the service will always come first. The sooner you can come to terms with that reality, the happier you will be and the easier life will be all together.
2. Pick your battles.
I’m sure you’ve heard that one before, but it couldn’t be truer. You have to decide if that little annoyance is worth arguing over or if you can simply overlook it and move on. Not everything is worth fighting over.
3. Refuse to fight dirty.
Believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong way to “fight” in a marriage. Fighting dirty includes anything from name calling, to using phrases like “you always” or “you never”, and bringing up the past. All relationships have arguments, but do it in a way that is constructive and not destructive. Instead of pointing fingers, use a phrase like, “It makes me feel…when this happens.” That way your spouse is less likely to feel defensive. Remember if you are both fighting to win an argument then you both lose. You should fight to come together for your marriage.
4. Make the time to take care of yourself.
We become so consumed in making sure those around us are happy and taken care of, we forget ourselves. It is important to take the time to do things for yourself. This will make you happier and more relaxed. And if you are each happier in general, then your relationship will be happier! It’s okay to be selfish every once in a while!
5. Laugh and have fun together.
Part of what makes a relationship great is the ability to laugh together. A happy marriage has to include fun and laughter. That doesn’t mean you have to enjoy everything your spouse does, but finding common interests is important too. Even finding a way to enjoy some of your spouse’s interests is a great way to have fun and bring you closer. The ability to laugh together can bring you closer than you could ever imagine!
6. Be supportive.
If your spouse is in the military, they need your support. They will have realities of their job that no one can even imagine on their worst day. They need to know that home is a safe place for them. If they need to vent, let them vent. If they need space to brood, give it to them. They carry a burden that we can’t understand, support them in that.
My husband and I have an agreement, when he walks in the door he gets one hour to talk or vent about whatever he needs or wants that is related to his job. Then he drops it and focuses on us the rest of the day. It’s amazing how much of a difference that one uninterrupted hour of talking can do for them. Support goes both ways, they should be expected to support your endeavors as well.
7. Show them you love them.
Saying “I love you” is easy. Showing someone you love them is the hard part. Spouses need to feel loved. They need to see every day that you truly love them. Everybody feels love differently. Finding that way for your spouse can be difficult. Gary Chapman wrote a book called The 5 Love Languages that has been very helpful. This book explains the idea of each person having their own love language and shows you how to find your own, as well as your spouse’s. There is also a military edition of this book called, The 5 Love Languages Military Edition.
8. Don’t blame them for things they cannot change.
We’ve all been there, something comes up and our plans change because of the military. It is hard not to get frustrated over it. Leave gets cancelled, orders change, and moving are just a few of the changes we face all the time. Blaming your spouse for the things they cannot change does not help anyone involved. The military isn’t like other jobs. If they have to work late or go in on their day off, then that’s what they have to do. If you have vacation plans and their leave gets cancelled, trust me, they are just as upset as you are, but they can’t change it. And moving is just a part of the life, don’t make them feel bad about it. Blaming them just causes more stress on you and your relationship.
9. Be honest.
This seems like it should be a given. However, people often struggle with being truly honest with their spouse. We avoid telling them things because we don’t want to hurt them. If we can’t be truly honest with our spouse, then who can we be honest with? It is important to be open and honest with your spouse about your hopes, dreams, fears, disappointments, etc. They should be that one person in your life you can truly tell anything to without fear of judgement.
10. Accept them.
True acceptance is all we really want out of life. We want someone to accept us and love us for who we are. It’s a huge part of a happy and lasting marriage. You have to accept your spouse for who they are, not for who you think they should be. You fell in love with them because of who they are, why try to change them as the relationship progresses? You will each grow and evolve as time goes on, accept that. Fall in love with the progress your spouse makes. Evolve with them and be willing to overlook their flaws. We all have them, why focus on them? Focus the reasons you fell in love with them and use that to accept them and fall in love with them again and again.