Marriage is a wonderful gift from God. It can bring so much happiness to the lives of both spouses and to all who know them. Yet, we all know that with marriage come many challenges and obstacles too.
Just like any relationship, when two different people come together to work as a team there will inevitably be issues and disagreements. However, if God is included in a marriage, He will guide the couple through the best and worst of times as well as help them learn more about each other and themselves in faith.
Of course, every marriage is unique in its own way. Each couple has their own way of going about life, and that’s a great thing. We can’t all be the same! The trick is to learn what works best for you and your spouse. It can take time to find how you work together best.
Again, a key element in a successful marriage is the inclusion of God in everything you do and all the decisions you make. This can be difficult to do on a day to day basis, especially when both you and your spouse are busy dealing with so many different things at the same time.
Marriage and the Military
Military marriages are particularly unique. They have many of the same challenges other marriages have, but a lot of the time those challenges have different nuances due to the specific challenges of military life.
My husband and I are newlyweds, having only been married for a year and a half. My husband is also about to celebrate serving one year in the Navy. Compared to a lot of marriages, that time equates to only a second, but though I still have a lot to learn about marriage my experiences over the past eighteen months have taught me a lot.
We dated for seven years before getting married, so we already had quite a bit of experience with learning about each other and our relationship. However, we knew things would change once we began our new life as husband and wife.
We didn’t really get to truly start our life together until six months into our marriage. Knowing that we were going to be entering military life in the near future, we opted not to buy a house or sign a lease. Instead, we lived with my in-laws until my husband left for boot camp. At that point, I moved back into my parents’ home while my husband was away, training for four months during the summer.
Only once the two of us moved across the country and set up our own home together did we really feel like we were beginning our own life. Although most spouses have that same experience and can relate to that feeling, when the military is thrown into the equation it’s just not quite the same.
It was wonderful to unpack all of our own things and begin using wedding gifts we hadn’t seen in six months, start establishing a routine, and just get comfortable living together again. Though we’re settled in now we still don’t feel totally independent. The military has its hand in almost everything we do.
There are times when there are great benefits to that: We don’t pay much for healthcare, there are many educational opportunities for military members and their spouses, and there is a tight-knit community available – you just have to throw yourself into it. Those are just a few of the benefits.
There’s a downside to the military, too. First of all, they tell you where to go and when. Moving away from my whole family and my hometown has been the hardest thing I’ve done in life to date. It broke my heart. Thank goodness for technology – I don’t know what we’d do without social media and FaceTime to stay connected.
Keeping God at the Center of Your Marriage
Just as with any other profession, there are ups and downs to my husband’s choice to serve his country. A lot of the time, it feels as though the negative aspects outweigh the positive aspects. It can be difficult to just stop analyzing every little detail of our new life, and let God take the lead.
While I’m thankful for the many opportunities that my husband’s service will provide in the future, it’s hard to look past where we are right now. We haven’t been married long or been in the military long, and we know that good things will come to us if we keep our heads down and push forward.
Yet, there are days when my husband comes home feeling like he’s accomplished nothing and would rather be back home and at his previous job of being a full-time firefighter. It’s his true passion and what he plans to pursue again once he has completed his service.
We both talk about home daily. We fantasize about how things will be when we move back and get to be with all our family and old friends again. We brainstorm about building our dream home and starting businesses out of things we really enjoy doing.
Perhaps all those feelings will fade a bit once more time passes. After all, we’ve only been away from home for about eight months now. It can sometimes hurt to think and talk of home so much. Still, part of me doesn’t want us to stop longing for home. I never want to forget where we come from. I don’t want the details to get fuzzy.
The shock of moving to the opposite side of the country and having to start our new life away from everything we know makes it especially hard to keep God at the center of it all. When you’re surrounded by everything that makes you comfortable, it’s easy to feel comfortable with God as well.
But God has given us this challenge of moving somewhere new. We’re out of our comfort zones while also trying to develop and maintain a healthy marriage in a military setting. It’s no wonder that it’s sometimes difficult to remind each other that God is still in control, no matter where we are.
If we just stop and look for signs of Him though, they’re always there. I recognize God in our lives when my husband comes home to me each day. I see Him whenever we get to spend a weekend together. I see Him when we encourage each other, when we assure each other things are good now and will be even better in the future.
A big part of keeping God and our faith at the center of our marriage is simply keeping Him a part of our conversations. Another thing that helps us is praying out loud before each meal. We always thank God for our time together, the food we have and the home we’ve made. We pray for the safety of our family and friends while we’re away from them, and we pray for those that don’t know God and need Him.
We are blessed to have each other, and every day we have opportunities to exercise the love that God shows us. Whether it’s showing a stranger kindness just by being polite and carrying on a conversation or my husband and I encouraging each other to keep pushing through each day, we can include God in everything we do. We may be far from the comforts of our true home, but we are still here for God.
Because things are so different in our lives now, it can be easy to forget about what it means to be a Christian on a day to day basis. But Galatians says: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
If we persevere through this difficult time and choose to learn and grow from it rather than wallow in the fact that there are times we’d rather not be where we are, our marriage will surely strengthen.
Hebrews says: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
~ Guest post by Marissa Clark
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