4 Resources for Connection in Military Marriages
I don’t have to tell military spouses how hard it can be sometimes to connect with their service member. When is the last time you had a date night? Long, unpredictable hours at work can wear on even the most committed couple. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and whether your love is going strong or could use some work, it’s a great time of year to focus on your relationship.
Today, I’m recommending a few resources meant as conversation starters for any military marriage. These are not intended to replace professional counseling sessions, but to encourage time spent together and to facilitate communication.
Even when my husband and I were separated by deployment, I could send him a book in a care package and we could read individually, then discuss on a video chat. Not ideal by any means, but it was a way for us to connect across the miles.
Sacred Spaces by Corie Weathers
“The challenge for military families is that we sometimes walk through the greatest challenges of our lives while we are physically apart.”
Could she have written anything more true?
In this book, Corie writes about her travels to Afghanistan for a week-long trip as part of her Military Spouse of the Year duties. Walking where her Army Chaplain husband spent a particularly tough deployment gave her a deeper understanding of his overseas experience. Prior to her trip, she had lived through deployments as the spouse at home, taking care of kids and a house. As a licensed professional counselor, Corie sat with and comforted many grieving family members on the receiving end of bad news.
Read Sacred Spaces together as a couple and see where the conversation flows: about each other’s separate memories during deployment and about your commitment to each other in marriage.
Five Dates by Mike and Jennifer Foster
“Don’t work on your problems, work on your togetherness.”
Definitely not your typical workbooks, these faith-based resources are all about having fun together as a couple! Between work, kids, and other responsibilities, designated together-time can be elusive. With his/her books, Five Dates walks couples through intentional time together, reconnecting, and remembering what it’s like to have fun together. Not a military-specific resource, these books are obviously meant for when you are actually together…in other words, after the deployment.
In fact, this would be a wonderful tool to foster connection during reintegration. Trust me, these books are less work and more play!
Prefer to watch movies instead of reading? Then this one is for you. Indivisible tells the story of an Army Chaplain and his wife (not Corie and her husband, although I’m seeing a theme here with the chaplains). Military marriages face unique obstacles and Indivisible faces them head-on. Not only does it depict a tough deployment, but the reintegration period, which is often times skipped over. This may hit close to home for many military couples, which is what makes it a compelling movie to watch together as a jumping off point for discussion.
Put the kids to bed, pop the popcorn and settle in.
The Five Love Languages: Military Edition by Gary Chapman
New York Times bestselling author Gary Chapman has been helping couples for a long time with The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. After all, it was required reading for our own pre-marital counseling 18 years ago. Chapman claims there are specific categories for how each of us prefers to receive love: Words of Affirmation, Quality time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, or Physical Touch. Understanding how each other gives and receives love can change the relationship entirely!
Now, he’s geared this book specifically for military marriages, taking into consideration deployment, reintegration, and an overall stressful lifestyle. It would be well worth the investment in your marriage to figure out your spouse’s (and your own) love language- if you haven’t guessed it already!
This Valentine’s Day, what if you could do something significant to help your relationship grow? To understand each other better. Read a book, watch a movie, or commit to spending some meaningful time together. Whether you’re together or separated by an ocean, remember there are ways to stay connected and remind each other of your love. Even in this crazy military life.