At least once new and seasoned spouses have all asked themselves the same question: How do I maintain a normal & healthy marriage; if there is one?! There are no simple or quick fixes and let’s face it; being a Marine Corps wife can compound the challenge. There’s no 9-5 civilian job to mull over. At the very beginning we discuss funeral wishes, Wills & POA’s when most couples are still in the honeymoon phase. Absolutely no one has a perfect marriage but hopefully we can all learn from others’ experiences to obtain or maintain a healthy marriage.
1) Communication. Learning the art of having a solid positive communicative foundation in your relationship is a hurdle you have to learn to jump because issues only get more complex as the years go by. Active listening means just that LISTENING. Not nagging or thinking of a come back as soon as they open their mouths. Fluffy surface stuff like “hi/bye, kiss me, I love you” get you nowhere as well. I mean deep conversations into the how, why & plan of action for confrontational in-laws, finances, overspending, financial planning, how to raise your kids, ect. Two people have become one and finding a neutral ground of compromise is a delicate balance. Compromise doesn’t mean submission it means you can have an honest conversation without feeling slighted or run over.
2) Maintenance. You get out of your marriage what you put into it. You don’t overheat your car without getting it checked out; the same concept goes for a marriage. Aboard almost all bases there are counselors & classes like the 5 Love Languages and the 4 Lenses which introduce you to personality types and how to mesh them into your relationship so both parties feel validated, important and respected. People go to the doctor for regular check-ups & maintenance is the same thing to prevent serious issues.
3) Reality. We live a unique life where it takes tremendous effort to communicate & maintain our marriage due to unaccompanied duty stations, deployments, trainings, ect. Marine Corps marriage is a huge reality check. Priorities have to shifted because reality is you cant get upset when he isn’t around or remembers to celebrate that second Wednesday in June when you two kissed for the third time under a full moon and you were wearing red heels with your favorite jeans.
4) Salt & Pepper. Everyone knows salt and pepper are always added and additional spices as needed and so should be certain things in a marriage. Always have undeniable love, respect, support, thoughtfulness, understanding and patience for each other and the spicy romance & extra goodies should automatically follow suit.
We’ve all heard the saying that anything worth fighting for won’t be easy and thats exactly what Marine Corps marriage is. Marriage is meant to complement your attributes and personality so while you’ll constantly evolve into being a better person and an outstanding Marine Corps spouse because of your Marine remember to enjoy the ride along the way. A spoonful of sugar will not make our lives easier as much as I’d love it to but leaning on each other for support and following the steps above may help a bit.
Yesterday in Connecticut the world experienced a horrific tragedy: the loss of children. These are little people who may have gone on to change the world, and their tiny lives have been snuffed out by a man full of evil. When things like this happen, we all hurt, but what can you do? You can pray, you can donate funds to help the families with expenses (there will be many), you can send cards/letters of support, or help support a memorial for the victims. …all of those things will help.
What do you do when it strikes closer to home?
We all know someone, or will know someone who experiences something horrific in their lives: the loss of a parent, spouse or child, and nothing is more devastating. What do you do? How can you help? You don’t know what to say, so you throw out a vague “I am so sorry! …call if you need anything.” Then you stand awkwardly aside while your friend bumbles through their grief, because the reality is there is nothing you can do to take that pain away.
Now for the good news: You Can Help!!
With any sudden loss, your life gets thrown into chaos. Many times someone in the throes of grief and shock doesn’t know what kind of help they need, and if they do, they are hesitant to burden others by asking for help. Here is a list of ways you might be able to help, some cost a little bit of money, and some cost nothing but your time.
- Babysit. Can you watch a couple of kids for a few hours to give both the parents and the kids a break? Parents have things to deal with, phone calls to make, and tears to shed. Kids need a chance to be kids: pop in a movie, make some popcorn and provide some much-needed attention.
- Walk the dog. Or offer to keep fluffy for a few days if that is a feasible option for your living situation.
- Offer to be a point-of-contact for updates: there may be a million friends/relatives calling for updates, and that can be hard for the grieving individual to deal with.
- Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, take out the trash, sweep the porch or whatever outside chores need to be done: there will be a lot of visitors in the days to come and those outside things will probably slide for a bit.
- Pick up/drop off kids for school/sports/church if you have time or are headed that way.
- Paper products: seriously. There will be a zillion visitors. Things like extra tissues (get the good kind!), paper towels, paper plates, coffee cups, plastic forks/spoons, toilet tissue and guest towels are all helpful items.
- Food. Not just meals for the family, but consider trays of finger foods for the visitors. Cookies, veggie trays, crackers, cheeses, grapes, etc… For the family, consider meals that will not leave leftovers, delivered in disposable containers. Healthy meals with plenty of fresh produce will be greatly appreciated. (Make sure you ask about food allergies and label your meals with every single ingredient!!!)
- Gift cards: gas, groceries, coffee, spa (who couldn’t use a massage during this time?) pet boarding, movie theaters, etc… There will be a lot of extra expenses for the family, so if you are financially able, any gifts will be appreciated.
While this is a challenging time for everyone, please be there for your friends and family. Even if you don’t know what to say, it is ok to say “I really want to be here for you, but I don’t know what to say.” In a time of need, being there means more than saying pretty words. Offer to pray with/for them, offer your physical assistance and offer your quiet companionship.
Don’t take it personally if you are rebuffed: emotions are running high and there is a lot going on. Don’t give up, just step back, let them know you are ready and willing to help, then check back in in a day or two. Continue to love them and remember this will take time for them to recover and develop a sense of normalcy.