Growing Closer to your Spouse: Learning from Each Other

When we come into a marriage we have our set of unique experiences we bring. We can either let these differences get between us or we can learn from each other and grow closer together

We all know military life comes with lots of moving. But in some ways I feel like an old pro at that! No I am not a military brat, but I did move around quite a bit as a kid. I can’t count on two hands the number of houses I lived in before I went off to college, and in the three years since I have graduated college I have lived in as many houses! I know crazy! So I totally get the feeling of never having deep roots or feeling like you can settle all the way into a home because you know you are going to be packing up and moving soon. My hubby grew up in the same house his whole life. His parents have been in that house for 30+ years! Talk about different childhood experiences!

Where his roots went deep, mine went wide! Home became much more generalized in my mind. It was the people I was with and the experiences I was having. During my senior year of high school after my parents had already moved, rather than the house I was staying in, my church became home to me. Later it was another’s house and their family completely took me in! So, you see I made a home out of the community I was surrounded with! It was the same when we were overseas, but I was really young then and much more outgoing!

His roots run deep. He had grown up in a two-stop light town (he says he remembers when they put the second one in!) He still hangs out with the two guys he has been friends with since he was a toddler! When we moved him here to GA, he didn’t know how to pack boxes or a car efficiently. He never had to! I am a master of it! I fit an entire kitchen’s worth of items, plus bedding and bathroom necessities into the trunk of my mini SUV! He struggles more to be away from home, because he hasn’t had as many experiences outside the state of SC. It is all he has ever known.

Neither one of us are right or wrong to have a different root system. It’s a by-product of how we are raised! Many couples face these kinds of differences. We have had vastly different childhoods. So, we can empathize with how the other is feeling, but we can never truly understand what the other went through and learned because of those experiences. This is part of the reason that nearly 60% of a couple’s problems are unsolvable (other contributors are differences in belief systems and gender differences).

This is where we get to learn from our spouses! Learning something from our spouses is one of the greatest ways to connect even deeper. Not only do we get to learn more about their interest or skills, we get to spend time together. And even more it gives us greater appreciation for their perspective on life. Although my husband says he prefers to stay out of the way while I am packing, when he helps me, we learn together the best way to make all our stuff fit then he can gain a deeper understanding of my experiences. Also, now when he moves by himself he will have some tips for how to do it himself. And we get to spend time together, which in military life we all know is to be cherished! Especially with a separation looming on the horizon.

In marriage, we are called to separate from our families and cleave to each other, becoming one. This is hard to do when we don’t understand each other. I mean typically before we get married we date, talk about common interests and get to know each other. But marriage means doing so on an even deeper level, something we could never accomplish while we are dating. As we learn from one another we grow even closer together, losing ourselves in each other (not to mean we cease being our own person). This also means that we can’t hang onto ideas just because they are something our parents did. We have to find ways to be together, be our own family. We do this by seeking understanding, and appreciate their view, and then possibly find a new way of doing things together.

If we appreciate our spouses more, than we will have less time to criticize our spouses. Criticism is one of the roots of issues that can lead to divorce. It can lead to contempt for our spouses, which is the leading cause of divorce. Learning from your spouse can be a way to divorce proof your marriage! And who doesn’t want that! Nobody’s goal in marriage is to set out to fail. But we do have to work to succeed. We can’t expect our marriages to work if we are not working on our marriages. There is always room for improvement, even in the best of marriages.

You can teach and learn anything from your spouse from a hobby, a religion, a culture, an area of interest like history, or a skill! I have learned a lot about football, especially Carolina Gamecock football! I have also learned a lot about history and (unfortunately) some grammar!

What Have you learned from your spouse?

When we come into a marriage we have our set of unique experiences we bring. We can either let these differences get between us or we can learn from each other and grow closer together

Rebuilding Trust in your Relationships when its been Broken + FREEBIE: Honesty Contract

When trust is broken, it can be hard to believe it can ever be restored! Here are some proven ways to restore trust in your relationships + Freebie: Honesty Contract!

Think about those relationships in your life both past and present that you have felt most secure in. I’d be willing to bet big money that trust was an important component to that relationship. There is not a single type of relationship that does not benefit and thrive off of trust: romantic, parenting, friendships, and work/employee relationships. And one relationship where trust is most essential is your marriage.


I have seen many couples or even just individuals come in struggling in their marriages because somewhere trust was broken- someone had an affair, or was thought to have had an affair, one partner had been repeatedly hurt by the other, maybe there are control tactics being employed, pornography, or addiction plaguing the relationship.

And all of them sought counseling with the main goal to rebuild trust in their marriages. Some were successful, some were not. More than half of all marriages are interrupted by an affair, but not all marriages are ended because of it. It is possible to rebuild trust, but it is difficult and requires determination and the constant decision to love your spouse throughout the process, for both members of the couple!

Trust is something that is hard to explain. And it is an absolute- you either trust someone or not, there is no degrees of trust. Without trust in our relationships we feel insecure and out of control. Especially if there was trust originally and it was blatantly broken by someone’s actions. Some people, like me, readily trust most people until given a reason to distrust them. This can be a double edged sword in that is has burned me a few times, but it works for me, where I am constantly meeting new people. Other people are slow to trust, letting it build as the person proves themselves to be trustworthy.

Actions that breed trust are ones full of honesty, transparency, and integrity obviously; but others include being thoughtful and caring, taking a genuine interest in someone else for no personal gain.  Based on my experiences from working with couples, the three most asked questions when they come in looking for hope are:

  1. Can trust be restored?
  2. Whose responsibility is it to restore broken trust?
  3. And how can we rebuild trust in our relationship?

Trust Can Absolutely Be Rebuilt

Here are the answers I give my clients when they come in. Yes! Trust absolutely can be restored. It is hard work, and can often be discouraging because it takes a long time to rebuild, it may have grown quickly in the beginning, but it can take seconds to break and years to rebuild. So stay the path, even when it’s hard, and choose to love your spouse everyday despite not trusting them, and slowly but surely the trust will come back, but don’t rush it and stay positive when you can. The work might not always seem fair. While I can tell you that its possible if you work hard, only you in your relationship can decide if that hard work is worth it.

It Takes Two to Tango

Ok, so now we know it’s possible, but who is responsible? Some people might tell me I am wrong, but I believe it is necessary for both people to restore trust. Remember, it takes two people to tango in the good times and bad. So this is where it might see a little unfair to the “victim.” You are just as responsible for re-establishing trust as the “perpetrator” Both people have to be willing to set aside their price and dedicate themselves FULLY to making it work between them again.

It Takes Hard Work

And finally, the way to rebuild trust is simple, but time consuming. Both people have to be 100% committed to be 100% honest and transparent with each other. Sharing passwords to all accounts, possibly deleting social media accounts, share itineraries for each day, allow GPS tracking through cell phones so you can check each other’s location. Checking in regularly throughout the day and then being able to check their GPS and let the partners know that they are actually going where they are saying they are going. While this may seem invasive at first, if you have nothing to hide then there really shouldn’t be any reason to be put out by it. It may be drastic, but it can go a long way in restoring trust.

Dr. Willard Harley, a marriage counselor, wrote a book Surviving an Affair. He has three policies that he as all his clients subscribe to when they are seeking to rebuild their marriage. 1. Policy of Radical Honesty; 2. Policy of Joint Agreement; 3. Policy of undivided attention. He views these as all-encompassing and necessary for affair recovery. And while he is talking directly about affair recovery, the same principles are important for restoring trust – addictions, control, and hurt.

Teamwork is Crucial

Regardless of why you need to build trust in your relationships and marriage, these are some great places to start. I know it’s hard. I have been in broken relationships where trust is lost. And I’ve walked the painful road of affair recovery and addiction recovery with many couples. But be encouraged by the knowledge that it is possible and knowing you’re not alone.

I would say if you’re struggling with issues around trust I would recommend checking out the resources on my page; but also consider seeing a counselor. We aren’t here to judge you, but are here to help you explore and find answers. And if you do decide to seek out a counselor I would encourage you to lean into it all the way. Counseling is what you make it. It can be an awesome experience if you let it.

With that said I know many people won’t ever seek out help, which is one of the reasons I love this blog and many others that address relational wellness and mental health! So if you don’t want to seek counseling to help rebuild your relationship, here is an Honesty Contract that can be used as an agreement between you and your spouse to maintain radical honest and follow through on the policy of joint agreement. And as you find yourself being more and more honest with each other over time, trust will be rebuilt.

Rebuilding trust in your relationships can be extremely difficult and often feel impossible, but with some hard work and dedication you can rebuild that bridge and find your way back to each other

For those who have experienced a breach in trust in your relationship, what did you do?

 

Finding Yourself Somewhere you Never Expected to be: Being a Stay at Home Wife

Finding yourself somewhere you never expected to be. For me that is being a stay at home wife!

Have you ever found yourself somewhere you never planned to be? That is me right now. I always envision myself being a stay at home mom, when the time came. My mom was home with us till I was in the 8th grade; and I loved it as a kid! But I never envisioned myself as a stay at home wife. I always envisioned myself working towards a career for a few years before I turned to being a SAHM. Yet, here I am! Master’s degree in hand, in a state I can’t get a license in (For full story check out this post!) So I am a stay at home wife.

I know what some people might say about this. Some will call me lazy, unmotivated, free loader, and probably some worse things. Some might even be jealous that I don’t have that extra stress, pressure, and responsibility of a job AND kids. But it’s ok! It’s not like I sit at home all day napping and binge watching Netflix. Ok, you caught me, Netflix is on, but I am most likely doing something productive at the same time. In some ways this has been challenging for me. I am not working towards a career at the same rate my friends are; working in their field, gaining experience, and making contacts. This is the first time since I was like 16 that I don’t have a job and earning my own money! Sometimes I might even be a little jealous of them. Here are some of the blessings I have received and lessons I have learned being in a place I never expected to be!

I had time to spend with my Hubby

If I was working on my career, I would probably still be in South Carolina, separated from my husband because he would still be here in Georgia no matter what I chose to do. I wouldn’t have made some of the best friends I’ve made. And even though I am not working towards my career or counseling license, I have had doors open to me in the Army as a service provider through the Chaplains. But the best blessing is that these months have given my hubby and I wonderful adventures and opportunities to connect. If I had stayed in South Carolina to work on my counseling license we would have ended up spending two years apart as we are now facing a yearlong unaccompanied assignment. It makes me even more grateful for the time we have had together over the last few months!

Growing my faith to a Mustard Seed

It has also given me the opportunity to grow in my relationship with God. If I was working full time I wouldn’t have the flexible schedule to attend a weekly Bible study, as stuff for military spouses only seem to take place during the day when people with full time traditional careers are in the office. This has been awesome for me! Not only to grow in my faith but I have made friends and come closer to others during my time here.

Growing my Community

I have had the opportunity to meet other Army wives and families; and I have had time to spend connecting with them. Some have become mentors and friends as I am learning to navigate the complexities and weirdness Army life. I’d be lost without them. Some ladies I’ve met that are here and work full time have told me they feel like they are missing out because they don’t have the time to make those relationships. Also they typically are not working in their field. I know I am blessed to have this luxury of staying home. So I have worked to make the most of it!

Blogging on my Blogging Progress

I have had the time to start and grow this blog. At first it was a way to fill my empty time. I never expected to get so into it. So much so that I’ve creates social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Bloglovin). I am intentional about writing and engaging with other bloggers in multiple different niches as I figure out and learn how to grow my own community. And it has definitely been incorporated into my Vision of Future for 2017. Adventures of a Young Wife has turned into more than I imagined and I am so excited to continue it as we go about our newest adventures.

Health has been a major focus

And finally it has given me the opportunity to work on my health physically. I am not perfect here by any means I mean just remember my hiking story (find it here). But having the ability to not have to get up and immediately crank it out before being at work at 8am or after I get off at 5pm. I can add it to my morning routine in a stress free way which makes me more likely to actually see it through. Even though sometimes puppy snuggles win out!

In the end…

But look at all these wonderful things! I could never have imagined this life. All though out college and grad school I never dreamed my life would take a path like this; but, I wouldn’t change a thing. And I get to do the one thing I love most, love my hubby in person for the next 7 months before he leaves and support him always. I know you don’t read my blog to just find out about my life, well some of you might, like my mom.

But I am hoping that by sharing my experiences with you that you can learn something too. For me, being a stay at home wife is a major shift in plans. I don’t know what that major shift for you is – maybe it’s getting married, having a baby, losing your job, or a loved one; whatever that unexpected life shift is for you remember that good things can come from it. If only you allow yourself to be open. I could have been sulky and sullen and stayed on my couch and I wouldn’t have gained anything but I worked hard and put myself out there! And I am so glad I did, and you will be too!

What unexpected situations have you found yourself in that turned out great?

My story of how I found myself somewhere I never expected to be. My life as a stay at home wife and how I made the best of the situation

TO THE SPOUSE WHO IS ALSO A STUDENT…

An open letter to all spouses who are also students. From someone who has been there and made it through

An open letter to all spouses, military or not, that are in another phase of life, being a student, all while being married. Often we think we go to school, we graduate, we find a job and we get married. Sometimes it works that way, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you go back to school. But as all of us students know school can be all consuming, and can prevent us from being the spouse we were maybe before school or what we desire to be. But know that its ok, and no matter what its ok.

See my open letter to the spouse who is also a student, from one who has been there and made it to the other side.

What advice would you share??

Too Young to be Married they Said

Too Young to b Married they said, But I have loved every bit of our life!

I was 23 when we got married, my husband was 22. Now at almost 25, still many of my friends are not married. Leading up to the wedding, I can’t count how many times I heard, “you are too young to be getting married.” Most were  just incredulous that I am now an adult. But, really did think we were too young to get married. “Why rush?” they would say?  I never thought I was in a rush. This was just how life was progressing for us. After all, my parents were my age when they got married. We had both graduated from college, I was finishing up graduate school, he was about to leave for Fort Benning. Although let’s be real, the military did not make it easy to slow down either. So what was I to do with all these well intended people that might as well been saying, you’re making a huge mistake. But here I am just after our first wedding anniversary and I can’t imagine this being a mistake.

I have always been told that I am one of those people that are easily swayed by what people say. I like for others to think well of me, I constantly worry about what people might or might not be saying about me. So I was a bit surprised at myself that I couldn’t find any anxiety in me when people would tell me I was too young. Maybe it’s because all the anxiety I could muster at the time was being thrown at my school work. Or maybe it’s because I finally realized that despite what people said about me and our relationship it wasn’t going to affect me. Why wait if I knew this was the person I wanted to spend my life with? What did it matter to Joe Schmoe when I got married? That’s right, it doesn’t.

So here is what I have learned about marrying young!

1.We can’t compare ourselves to the other people around you!

Just because we are doing something different doesn’t make me right and them wrong. When we compare ourselves to others we often find ourselves in discontent. Like the saying “You do You” We have to do what works for us. Most of my friends who are in relationships are content to wait for a while before getting married, due to being in the military, that wasn’t going to work for us or else I couldn’t move with him. But marriage works for us!

2.We get to experience so much together!

I have a friend who is almost 30 and celebrated her 1st wedding anniversary a few weeks before B and I did! When we talk she always wishes they had met earlier and were married younger so they could have had that time together. I will be 25 when we celebrate our 2nd anniversary! We have so much to do together!

3.Less comparison between partners!

While my marriage was not my first relationship it was really my first adult relationship. I don’t get caught in the trap of comparing B to past boyfriends or relationships. And neither does he! It makes our lives so much smoother!

4.Regardless of how old we are; we get to spend our lives together!

No matter how old or young you are when you get married, the best part is getting to spend all my life with B! We get to do all the parts of having a family, being a family, and building a family. We get to adventure and make new memories, we get to have all the experiences, we get the highs and lows of being together.

As I reflect on age and marriage, to me maturity is more important than age. Age is a number that might not reflect a lot! But having a mature spirit, forgiving and gracious and a loving heart is all that is needed to make the marriage work, a lifelong commitment to one another, I made that commitment at 23! And I couldn’t be more happy with how my life is!

Too young to be married they told me, but I have loved every minute and wouldn't change it!

My Review of Hot Holy & Humorous by J. Parker

My Review of Hot Holy & Humorous by J. Parker - Why I recommend it to all my clients struggling with intimacy in their marriage

(In case ya’ll didn’t know or haven’t explored my website fully, I have a Resource tab on my blog! Click here to check it out! On the resource page I have listed several areas of interest that I regularly address with on the blog: Marriage, parenting, military life, and mental health and wellness. Under each category I have several books that I have read and had great success sharing with my clients in those areas. (I would like to say that I was not compensated in anyway to promote any of these books. I paid for all of them with my own funds and have read each other them.) I decided that over the next few weeks I am going to do a Book Review of some of my favorites! And since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching I thought I would start with J. Parker’s book, Hot, Holy, & Humorous.

Our culture is full of opinions about sex, sexuality, and what healthy sexuality is or isn’t. But so often we turn to sources like Google, Cosmo, or any other number of sources on the internet, maybe even pornography (another topic for another day); and as would be expected none of these sources account for Godly sexuality. So where is a girl to turn when trying to better her marriage and her relationship with Christ if we can’t trust the world around us. I have read a couple of books written from a Christian perspective on healthy, Godly sexuality. The first is Sheet Music by Dr. Leman and the second is Hot, Holy, & Humorous by J. Parker. I wanted to touch on the subject of Sex because it is a necessary component to a great and satisfied marriage. Leading up to Valentine’s Day as we all prepare to celebrate our love relationships is the perfect time to think about such things too. J. Parker’s book because it is a quick, easy, funny, but extremely informative book that definitely made an impact on me and my marriage. So without Further ado…
Hot, Holy, & Humorous is a wonderful resource for all married, Christian women. Whether you are satisfied or unsatisfied with your sex life, J. Parker can help you feel more confident and knowledgeable in the bedroom. PLUS, no guy is going to be upset that you want to improve that area of your life! Hot, Holy, & Humorous is informative and insightful, while still maintaining integrity, which if you read Cosmo, is not always a given when discussing sexuality. The topics she covers are: preparing body and mind for sex, kissing, initiating sex, when sex hurts, oral sex, hand jobs, mismatched sex drives, and orgasms. So many areas in which women struggle or want improvement on. Parker makes seeking this help safe and free from judgment.
Parker not only provides practical advice, but gives a daily dose of humor as she does so. In graduate school I had to take a sexuality counseling class, while informative I rarely found resources through that class I thought would be helpful in the lives of my clients. The text book was full of sexual disorders, STIs, contraceptive methods, positions, and sexual orientation and gender expression. As this was the last class I had in my curriculum I knew I was heading to a military installation and that I was going to be working with Army couples mostly if I was to find a job (I am now a volunteer counseling intern with the Family Life Chaplain). Working through a Chaplain organization not all my clients are religious, but many are Christian and want resources that mirror that path. So very little I was learning in class was going to be helpful to my population of interest. So I was in desperate need of resources regarding sexuality for Christian married couples. I am so glad I found Hot. Holy, and Humorous. It’s a short and affordable resource that I feel confident referring to my clients for any variety of areas that they may want improvement on.
This book is written by a real woman, for real women who want help in any area of their sexual relationship with their husband. Its comical and informative. J. Parker also writes a blog by the same name, she answers questions about sexuality and other areas of intimacy. Before I found her book I was following her blog. You can check her blog out Here. Find her on Facebook and Twitter! So as I end I want to leave you with this quote from J. Parker: “If you want that deep connection with your husband, you have to open yourself up. You need to trust him with your heart and with your body.

How to Embrace Conflict in your Relationship and Come out Stronger

How to embrace conflict in your relationship and come out stronger

A week or so ago I wrote a post about why we need to stop husband bashing as a way of maintaining fondness and admiration for them. The is one of Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. When counseling couples, this is one of the main books and works that I draw on because his advice is well backed by science and research, and it works. I thought I would draw out one of his other principles for a successful marriage today: Solving solvable problems.

Many of the problems we face in our relationship are things we simply cannot change. We cannot change our personalities, they are pretty well set. Nor can we change extraneous circumstances, they are outside our control. We can’t change our extended family; we are pretty much just stuck with them. However, we can change how we relate to one another, and that can make all the difference when you and your spouse are trying to solve a problem. Remember, in a marriage you are a team, and you either win together or lose together; if one person ever walks away feeling like they lost, then both people lost. So practicing (and I choose this word specifically) practical conflict resolution skills can help you and your partner solve the solvable problems and overcome the non-solvable problems.

While Gottman’s unique approach to marriage counseling doesn’t focus solely on communication skills as more traditional models might. Rather he uses softening startups, making and receiving repair attempts, soothing yourself and your spouse, compromise, and tolerating each other’s faults. Now I am sure you are familiar with the last two or three components, but, the first two I think are the most important, so that is where I am going to focus.

Softening Startups

I am going to be the first to admit that I am not great at this; I tend to get very defensive, very quickly. However, I notice a radical difference in my husband’s response to me when I am soft and when I am defensive. Nothing can be resolved when one or both partners are in a defensive mode, this very quickly leads to arguments. We can’t avoid difficult conversations for fear of creating conflict either. Avoiding conflict will not bring us closer to our spouses, rather it will drive a wedge in between us making us feel ever more distant.

That is why we need to use soft startups when we know we are broaching a difficult subjects. Softening means no accusations. “Why didn’t you do…”; “How come you can never do….” Instead say, “I would really appreciate if you could help me do…”, “I really could use an extra set of hands on this project.” Often we feel underappreciated or a lack of help from our spouses simply because we haven’t asked for their help. They can’t read our minds, it is not a sign of disrespect, more of ignorance. When we use I-statements and avoid blaming our spouses we are more likely to get the response we desire, they come and help us. Be polite, this is important, as we are more likely to oblige someone who is polite, rather than demanding.

Making repair attempts

Gottman has said it is not the number of fights a couple has that impacts relationship satisfaction, rather it is how well a couple can reconnect after the argument. This is the idea behind making and receiving repair attempts. Couples have to practice both, it is not enough for one person to continually make repair attempts if the other partner makes not effort to receive and accept them.

A repair attempt can take many forms, but it is a way of turning toward your spouse (one of Gottman’s 7 Principles) after an argument. Repair attempts can be humorous jokes to break the tension after a fight, an apology, validating your partner’s emotions, and showing empathy. These can be done in the moment, during an argument. However, we are stubborn creatures, or at least I am! And often, we do not make repair attempts at the time because we feel justified in our position.

Repair attempts can also be made later: apologize, tell your spouse you love him, and make sincere efforts to let them know you are sorry. And well we’ve all heard that making up is the best part of fighting… if you know what I mean!
Not only do you need to make repair attempts, but you also need to be able to accept them when your spouse makes them! This requires being mature, and to stop dwelling on the argument and accept their apology. Give up your stubbornness, as hard as I know it is, believe me! If you want to know how well you are making and receiving repair attempts in your relationship, go to The Gottman Institute Blog and use the questionnaire and see how you rate.

How We Can Grow Closer

These tools can help make conflict within the marriage (which is inevitable, I don’t care how much you love each other, at some point there will be conflict). Remember, don’t avoid conflict in attempt to keep peace. It will only drive a wedge in between you and your spouse. If you soften your approach to complaints, it will lessen your partner’s defensiveness. Then you will be more likely to be able to solve your problems.

Remember, not all conflicts can be solved. There will always be gender differences, personality clashes, family members we don’t get along with. So try to come to compromises with those issues. Solve the ones you can so your relationship is not plagued with insolvable and solvable problems! I highly recommend reading Gottman’s Book. It is full of questionnaires and assessments that can be used to monitor how you are behaving in your relationship.

What are some of your conflict resolution strategies??

Conflict is a natural part of relationships! But it doesn't have break them! Here are some ways to embrace conflict in your relationship and come out stronger on the other side.

*This post contains affiliate links

5 Ways to Keep the Interest Alive In a Long Distance Relationship

Are you in a long distance relationship or spend a lot of time apart? Here is how you can keep the romantic spark alive even when you spend a lot of time apart!

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times with the same person”

Such a beautiful and wonderful quote; and something I think we all start out striving for. But lets me honest, it is a lot easier to fall in love with a person who is present, one that is there when you wake up and fall asleep, home for dinner, who is there to help put the kids to bed and someone who can help around the house. A partner because that is what a marriage is, a partnership. But enter military life, and suddenly that does not always happen. There are lots of separations in military life: i.e. deployments, trainings, TDYs, field time; and they are never there in the mornings because of PT. And suddenly, because of that we become incredible self-sufficient, which don’t get me wrong is not a bad thing. But when we become so self-sufficient, it can begin to interfere with the romance. Sure everyone thinks having a military relationship is so romantic with the grand homecomings after long absences. But what you don’t realize until you live it, is that it is never as romantic as it seems. It can be hard to keep the romance alive after that first initial homecoming.

So how do you keep the romance alive in your military (or long distance) marriage

1. Communicate Whenever You Can, However You Can

 Sometimes all we have are letters, sometimes we can Facetime, Skype, text, call each other. Regardless of what methods are available to you, utilize them. Don’t just send letters or emails, include pictures of you and what you are doing. This goes both ways. By sharing pictures, you can continue to feel connected to each other and what each other are doing. Whether you think it’s exciting or not, they will feel grateful that you thought of them and want to share what you are doing with them

2. Make Your Time Together Intentional

When you are together, make sure you are intentionally seeking to spend time with your spouse, don’t just spend your time haphazardly. Intentionally seeking your spouse means making a specific effort to work on your relationship at a certain time. All interactions should be intentional, but they rarely are, when time is limited this is even more crucial to keeping the relationship healthy and stoking the fires. When my husband was doing a lot of field training he was gone most days of the week for several months, and only home on weekends. I was intentional of not making plans with friends to be away while he was home. We spent that time together as a couple. Being intentional with the time we had together allowed us to keep romance alive during those months.

3. Be Creative Expressing Intimacy to your Spouse

When you are together all the time, there are easy, common ways to express intimacy towards your spouse. But keeping it alive is a bit more difficult. Now I am not suggesting you send racy photos to your spouse (especially if they are deployed as you never know who is monitoring packages or internet lines). If you want to send them that’s your choice, just be careful! However, there are other ways to creatively share. Tell your spouse what specifically you miss about him/her. “When I see you I want to ____.” This will help you feel connected to each other even if it’s just via letters. Send cards, not just letters. The sky is really the limit in how you are creative with each other.

4. Always Be Willing to Learn

Being apart means that there are going to be things ya’ll don’t know about each other. Even if you talk every day, the chances that you share everything, every day, are so slim. You are both going to have experiences the other won’t and it will change and affect you both differently. So when you are back together, be willing to continue learning about each other. As you learn more about each other, it will continue to build intimacy in your relationship.

​5. Surprise Each Other

Now, I know physically surprising each other in person is not always possible; especially if they are separated from you for military reasons. But send them something, maybe he really loves video games and a new one came out, beat him to the punch and send it to him. You are going to miss your anniversary together, send her flowers. It doesn’t have to be anything large or extravagant. Small surprises like a box of his favorite Christmas cookies if he is going to be deployed during the holidays, say a lot.
So whether you see each other once a week or are separated for months at a time you can use these 5 ideas to help you maintain the romantic spark in your relationship.
What are your creative ways to stay connected to your spouse across the distance?
 As Military Couples we find outselves separated a lot.  Here are my top 5 ways to keep the interest alive in a long distance relatioship

Husband Bashing

In order to keep our marriages healthy we need to grow in fondness, meaning we need to stop husband bashing!

Husband bashing: just google it. You will find tons of articles listing why you should not do it; funny jokes; and to beware of husband bashers. Yet, it is so easy to do. He makes us mad, forgets the one thing at the store we needed most, whatever. And we turn to our sisters, friends, or worse the internet. We are all guilty of this. But if we are being honest with ourselves, we do not feel any better for it. All we have done is tick off our husbands and turn our biggest supporters against him. So what can we do instead the next he forgets to pick up milk on his way home?

Well according to one of the most respected researchers in marital and relational therapy, Dr. John Gottman, suggests that one of the seven principles for making marriage work is to nurture fondness and admiration for each other. But how can we do that when we are constantly bashing our husbands for all their short comings? We can’t; we can’t both admire them and bash them at the same time. Every time we bash them publicly or even internally, we forfeit the opportunity to admire their positive qualities, what drew us to our spouses in the first place.

As humans we are naturally drawn to more immediately recognize negative situations, characteristics, events, individuals, and actions. This means we are more apt to notice our spouses’ short comings rather than their achievements and successes. As a result, we husband bash to vent our frustrations. Learning to train our minds to focus on the good, positive moments takes time and dedication. And slowly we won’t gravitate towards nitpicking the negatives. Allowing us to turn towards our spouse and remember to stay fond of each other, have happy memories together in the present, not just the past. When we are fond of our husbands and admire them for all their strengths, we won’t continue to bash our husbands. If we continue to husband bash, it becomes breeding ground for contempt in our relationship. Contempt is one of the number one enemies of a healthy, successful relationships. Fostering fondness is an antidote to the growing contempt, remembering why we love our spouse keeps the focus positives in our relationship.

​ We do this by consistently telling our spouses why we appreciate them, identifying positive qualities they admire about their partner and reminiscing about the past; what brought you together, what was the first thing that attracted you to your spouse, and shared memories of good times together. This will buffer the stresses that you encounter in your relationship by altering your view of your partner as fundamentally positive as opposed to negative. It will not eliminate any stresses in your relationship, but it will help you navigate the stresses you encounter together. So remember, next time he forgets to do wash the dishes, don’t bash your husband tell them what you appreciate them instead. Maybe he didn’t do the dishes because he was busy playing with the kids; you never know. The fonder of your husband you are, the happier your relationship will be.