Thank you to Sarah Peachey for these amazing blogs! This one is my personal favorite~ Danya
A lot of books are on the market to assist couples in healing their marital differences. Some deal with specific love languages for each person or the specific need each partner has. Unfortunately, there are very few books on marriage that can aid in healing the marital differences for military marriages (minus “The Love Languages Military edition.” It’s on my list). Ours are unique compared to non-military couples. We don’t always have the time to work on our marriages due to deployments, training, temporary duty and other military engagements. Some exercises listed in marriage help books aren’t feasible for military couples, so we’re forced to adapt them to our lives as best as we can.
Here was my list of Dares for the week:
• Day 8 — Love is not jealous: “Determine to become your spouse’s biggest fan and to reject any thoughts of jealousy. Then share with your spouse how glad you are about a success he or she recently enjoyed.”
• Day 9 — Love makes good impressions: “Think of a specific way you’d like to greet your spouse today. Do it with a smile and with enthusiasm. Then determine to change your greeting to reflect your love for them.”
• Day 10 — Love is unconditional: “Do something out of the ordinary today for your spouse — something that proves (to you and them) that your love is based on your choice and nothing else. Demonstrate love to them for the sheer joy of being their partner in marriage.”
• Day 11 — Love cherishes: “What need does your spouse have that you could meet today? Choose a gesture that says, ‘I cherish you’ and do it with a smile.”
• Day 12 — Love lets the other win: “Demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area of disagreement between you and your spouse. Tell them you are putting their preference first.”
• Day 13 — Love fights fair: “Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement. If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to fight by. Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs.”
• Day 14 — Love takes delight: “Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he or she would love to do. Just be together.”
As you can see, this week on my journey through “The Love Dare,” majority of the Dares dealt with conflict in a marriage, but two important Dares applied to healing my military marriage, and I think they can apply to most military marriages out there.
Let’s take the first — “Love is not jealous.” Even the best of us are guilty of feeling some jealousy now and again. When our coworker gets the promotion or big project we were hoping for, when friends have a good stroke of luck getting that dream job or even the stability our non-military family and friends have that our unstable military lives don’t offer. These kinds of jealousy aren’t necessarily OK, but we’re all guilty of it in some way or another. It’s how we handle it that really matters.
We shouldn’t, however, be jealous of our spouses, even though that can be difficult sometimes. When I married my husband, we became a team, taking on whatever obstacles arose and tackling the tough times together. As the book says, consider your marriage certificate as your induction into your spouse’s ultimate fan club. Love isn’t meant to be selfish, as the book teaches very early on, and jealousy relates very closely to selfishness.
But it isn’t always easy to let the jealousy go. Many times in a military marriage, spouses ask themselves, “What about me?” We must co-exist in a lifestyle that tells the service member almost every detail of his life, which boils down to the rest of the family as well — the next state we’ll live in, when and how long we’ll remain there. The location of our homes, the schools our children attend, the availability of jobs are mostly dictated by the military.
Spousal employment can be extremely difficult and I sometimes find myself asking, “When is it my turn?” After all, I worked hard in college to earn a degree that can sometimes be difficult to use in certain areas. I worked for a post newspaper and I was good at it. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss it. Sometimes I want my life to come first and not the needs of the Army. I think all spouses feel that way at some point.
The biggest thing is not allowing that jealousy to lead to resentment, which is what happens if you don’t deal with it. It isn’t your service member’s fault that you may live in a place you aren’t happy with — it’s what comes with the lifestyle we all agreed to. Rather than focusing on the negative, it’s important to focus on the successes in both your lives and even your children’s lives— promotions, awards, new job opportunities, earning degrees, winning that soccer tournament. It’s about completing your spouse, not competing.
In a perfect marriage, the couple acknowledges the support of the other’s successes and cheers for each other when they win. We don’t compare ourselves to each other or weigh each other’s successes. Because we love our mates, we support them and celebrate with them through everything we experience together.
I’m a firm believer in that we don’t choose whom we fall in love with, and when you love someone, you love him or her forever. I don’t believe in falling in and out of love. You either loved them to begin with, or you never loved them at all. “The Love Dare” agrees with me.
There are three forms of love, all of which are important in a marriage. We have phileo (friendship) and eros (sexual). Both friendship and sex are important in marriage, but they cannot be the foundation of your marriage. If it is, it’s too easy to fall apart. There is also a form of love called agape (pronounced uh-GOP-ay) love. In religion, it’s the love of the unlovable. God loving the people, whether or not they deserve it. To keep the discussion more secular, it’s basically a selfless and unconditional love. This is the love most couples declare in their wedding vows — for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
As the vows state, there are no conditions to a marriage. It’s not “I will love you forever unless you don’t clean up after yourself or do what I want.” It’s a contract that isn’t meant to be broken until death. Unconditional love isn’t swayed by time or circumstance. Your enjoyment of each other as friends and lovers should be based on an unwavering commitment to each other.
Most of us will struggle with this and that’s OK. We’re human and bound to make mistakes. There are times when things don’t go my way and I get frustrated, but that shouldn’t mean I love my husband any less. There are times in my marriage that I may have focused my love on his attributes or behavior, but I can’t allow that to continue.
For military couples, we agree to the lifestyle when we marry a service member or allow our spouse to join the military. It also means accepting all the stresses the military can place on a marriage. Frequent separations are difficult, but dealing with them and continuing to support the service member is the epitome of unconditional love.
The Dare that went along with the focus on unconditional love was doing something for my husband that is out of the ordinary. I needed to do something that would demonstrate my love to him, even if he didn’t reciprocate. It’s as simple as cooking his favorite meal, getting him his favorite snack from the store or buying something I know he wants and enjoys. It’s doing things for your spouse only because you’re thinking of them. It demonstrates love in subtle ways, but goes a great distance in making your spouse feel important.
As service members have an obligation to abide by their oaths of enlistment, spouses have an obligation to stand by their service member through thick and thin. And that is truly unconditional love.
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Sarah Peachey is a 20-something journalist from the northeast, living in the Southwest near Fort Huachuca, AZ with her husband, two furbabies and infant daughter. She began a career in journalism with The Fort Polk Guardian, an installation newspaper, winning three state awards for her work, and now freelances for military spouse support sites. She is an active blogger on MilitaryOneClick and her blog, “Stetsons, Spurs and Stilettos.” She enjoys spending her days on the shooting range or at home with a good book. She considers herself a bookworm, pianist, wine enthusiast and artist.
To read Sarah’s Love Dare Blog Parts 1 and 2, click here.