On my husband’s birthday, two days after he returned from deployment, we got married. We had decided the day before, on a whim, that we wanted to tie the knot as soon as possible. So that evening we picked out rings at our local mall, a titanium black band for him, and a black and white diamond band for myself.
We wanted to keep things simple, so the day of, we spent the morning getting our daughter ready for school, and after dropping her off we made our way to our county courthouse. We didn’t have any witnesses, it was only the two of us and the Justice of the Peace.
When we were at the courthouse, we met another young military couple who were also getting married without any witnesses. We took photos for one another as we signed our documents and went through the ceremony.
And just like that, we were married.
Immediately following the ceremony, we had our first meal as a married couple at the The Kettle Diner, where we looked at our pictures and realized all of them were blurry because the other newly wedded wife’s excitement had her shaking so bad. Little did we realize at the time that the blurry pictures where just a preview of what was to come. We then went to work for the rest of the day and had a casual celebration dinner with our best friends later that night.
We were both hard headed from the beginning, but we have learned to choose our battles and work better as a team these days. Looking at our lives now, I think it’s nothing short of miracle that two (seriously) crazy kids, who couldn’t get life right, made it through everything that we’ve gone through and landed on the other side together, and stronger than ever before.
Our relationship hasn’t followed a traditional path, but regardless, we love one another the way a married couple should. I’m sure when you read about our wedding day, you probably muttered, “that won’t last” under your breath because for so many couples that had done the same- it didn’t. I’m happy to say we defied the odds. Like all relationships, we’ve had our own set of rough patches. We have hit rock bottom in our marriage, which you can read about here, but love perseveres.
I have seen young military couples struggling in their marriage. Some decide to give up on trying to make their marriage work and I just want to shake them and say this…
Love is never perfect.
It is about perspective and what you are willing to give to each other to make things work. To me, love is about seasons. It is truly about honoring the fact that you really do have to love someone at their best and their worst.
Love is about compromise.
God created two people and made them one…I get that. That does not mean that I will agree with everything that the other part of my “one” says and does.
That doesn’t mean that sometimes I won’t need to keep my mouth shut to avoid an argument or that I won’t need to walk away and take a breath every now and then because I am just at the end with a situation.
It does mean that I will dust myself off and get back at it to find the rhythm that makes it all worthwhile. There will be times that, even when I wholeheartedly disagree with him, I stand by his decision because his whole heart is all in.
Love is not taking your spouse for granted.
Marriage is having a best friend for the rest of your life no matter what, “til death do us part”. Our vows to each other are not something I took lightly. I look at some of my friends who have had to experience the death of their spouse and that really puts love into perspective.
They didn’t have a choice; their lives were changed forever. Realizing that it could have been me, I choose to celebrate our love every…single…day. There is no better reason as to why you shouldn’t do the same. None.
Love is about giving more and taking less.
“What can I do to help him today?” “What can I do to make her day a little less stressful?” Keeping the “giving” mindset and truly making your everyday focused around what matters is HUGE!
Love is never forgetting about the little thing.
Leaving notes in lunchboxes, presetting coffee for those early wake ups, making an breakfast before he heads to work are all examples of little acts of love that go a really long way to showing how much you care about your spouse.
Love is learning to “Let it go”.
Being resentful gets you nowhere. When we live our lives focused on work ups, deployment schedules, solo parenting, the list goes on and on.
I found myself at a point where I was harboring a lot of resentment. I will admit that I got stuck in a cycle of resentment and it has taken so much for me to let
that go. You can also be harboring resentment without even realizing it, so take a look at how you’re feeling start working on letting that resentment go.
And if you’re a parent like me, you probably get a daily reminder to “LET IT GO! LET IT GO!”
Love is being spontaneous.
That’s right, learn to live outside of your comfort zone. Buy the panties, put on some makeup before he gets home or throw on an actual shirt and jeans (I say this because I live in sweats!). Do something that is totally out of your norm and surprise him. And guys, don’t forget to do the same for your ladies!
Love is loving yourself too.
When I first started this whole caregiver gig, I kept hearing the term “self-care” thrown around. I didn’t fully understand how important it was until more recently.
I think that if I had incorporated more self-care earlier, while my husband was still active duty, I wouldn’t have felt like I was going to snap. Do what you love! If you don’t know what that is, find it, and try new things until you do! I had to search for my passion. And it turns out, my passion is owning a farm. Hey, it is what it is.
Life is not perfect, there will always be new and old challenges. As our marriage has grown, so has our ability to work together to overcome them. It really is a beautiful thing! Don’t give up, keeping working through it! I thank God every day that we kept pushing through. There are so many resources and opportunities to improve yourself and your marriage! USE THEM! My final recommendation for the first step in reviving your marriage, “Always remember why you fell in love with spouse in the first place.”
Resources for Military & Veteran Couples:
- Hope For The Warriors: Apply For Services
- Reboot Recovery
- Freedom Alliance-Heroes Retreat
- Military Family
- Military One Source
- VA Relationship Retreats-From Warriors to Soulmate
About The Author
Lauren Fagan is a member of our Hope For The Warriors Caregiver Services, the wife and caregiver of a USMC veteran, and mother of four beautiful children. Due to the couples love for fellow military families and veterans, as well as their shared passion of farming they founded Operation Barnabas Inc. at Fagan Family Farm in Keystone Heights, Florida.