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I’ve been with my husband since 2011. Nine years together and married almost five of those years.
In the grand scheme of things that really isn’t that long but it does hold a lot of weight when you’re together during some of the most transformative years of your life and building a foundation for forever.
There is so much I have learned since being with him but without getting all mushy and excessively serious…
Love is more than emotion.
A majority of my friends are in ‘normal’ relationships as far as their career and their partner’s career. They leave in the morning, they are home that evening, they have the weekends off and the occasional short-term business trips where they can talk each day. It’s been interesting to see the difference in our relationships and what works for different lives.
If there’s something I have noticed about making the most of our time together it’s that love is more than emotion; it’s actions.
It’s not always the warm and fuzzies like when he surprises me with flowers or impromtu lunch dates. Sometimes it means he changed my oil or unloaded the dishwasher.
It’s compromising on movies or omitting cheesy foods from his plate.
It’s me taking over duties so he can relax when he gets home because I want to spend time with him. And him not expecting that of me.
It’s me realizing not everything has to be done all the time, right away, and we can sit down. It’s him realizing when I need to hold his hand or just talk and have him listen without commenting.
It’s recognizing the sacrifices made or things you have done for one another. That day, that week or in the years of knowing each other. This one has been the most challenging since it only makes sense that we want a life together but it was a series of choices and sacrifices that allowed that to happen. The worst thing you could say is ‘You know what you signed up for’.
Recognize it. Acknowledge it. Appreciate it.
Don’t take the fact that someone adjusted their life plan to match yours for granted. And don’t hold the fact that you did that over their head as a bargaining chip the rest of their life. For one reason or another you both made the choice to be together.
Love is being there when they need you even if they don’t say they need you. It’s being there in silence and it’s being there as a sounding board.
It’s doing things without being told or asked or expecting those things of the other and getting upset when they don’t read your mind and it doesn’t happen.
It’s standing up for one another, protecting one another, advocating for one another. I have always heard ‘We’re on the same team’ or ‘We make a great team’ but didn’t understand what that actually meant until my teammate reciprocated. You should always have each other’s best interest at heart.
It’s loving each other’s loved ones and doing the same for them.
It’s about having a bond so deep you’re ready to share that with someone else via charity, volunteering, church, community outreach or a child. Gary Chapman said
“Your emotions will always influence you but they do not control you.
Love is an attitude.”
It means I love him even when I don’t feel like I like him. And trust me when you live together with no barriers, walls or personal space sometimes…you’ll understand what that feeling is like.
As I have said before it’s Us and We not You and Me. It’s scary to be set in what is familiar and not wanting to be ‘alone’ or start from the beginning. Are you spending longer sitting in a dead-end road or do you recognize this path didn’t work, turn around and head in a different direction?
You are worth that. Your happiness is worth that. It’s in more than someone saying ‘I Love You’ and ‘I’ll do better.’ It’s what they do with their actions. They say they love you but what are they doing to show they truly mean it? They will make mistakes and you will, too. Humble yourself. Apologize. Acknowledge when you need help. When you learn better, do better. Respect yourself and respect them enough to fix the issue.
You will be spending a lot of time with that person. Are they someone you want to be like? Be around? If you want kids are they someone you want to be connected to forever? As a role model to your nieces or nephews?
I believe you can be in love several times in your life. It’s a basic human need to connect and want to be wanted. You usually pick someone who makes sense to you. You connect all the events you have been with together as the bond you share. But those events are placed there to develop you into the person you will be for the rest of your life. They had their place there and sometimes that means leaving the person you experienced that with in that place behind you.
You were raised by people who were in a place just like you. At some point in their life they made dumb choices, they had their ‘first’ everything including the time they became first-time parents…and they didn’t know what the hell they were doing either. Maybe they still don’t.
So much of adulthood is unlearning bad habits, guarding ourselves from bad experiences we had or assuming because you never saw a healthy relationship you won’t have one either.
But you can. Just because you were raised on fast food and instant boxed meals doesn’t mean you can’t make healthier choices now.
Just because you were raised in a home where disagreements were won with who could yell louder, leave faster or hit harder does not mean that is how it should be. You can learn from that.
Just because your parents argued daily and divorced doesn’t mean you will follow the same route. Take what you did like and change what you didn’t.
How they are loved is how they will be loved.
You are not your parents, you are not your siblings, you are not your mistakes. You are your own person and your own family. You need to protect that, uphold that and stand firmly in what is best for you; not most convenient for them to understand.
You deserve someone who fits in with all the awkward, weird parts of you.
You deserve someone who is easy to be with. It won’t always be easy but if there’s no expectations from each other and it’s still the best day ever…that sounds like an easy-to-love life to me. You will be faced with death, loss, tears, and knock-down, drag-out situations that will rock and threaten you. You will be surprised, challenged, heartbroken and you will grow. You will learn together and improve together. You will apologize, you’ll do what you can to make things right and you will choose each other.
You should be laughing every day and not feel guilty when you break down in front of them. You need to show up and be entirely who you are because you are an entire person. And they, too, are an entire person. One that you’re learning something about every day. You can be each other’s better half, you can compliment each other, you can depend on one another and you can still be independent. You can rely on each other while still relying on yourself.
I’ve heard actual comments made about marrying into the military for money, about not knowing what to do for yourself when you’re alone, about being dependent and always giving something up and coming in second place to his job. We didn’t decide to get married because I didn’t want to work. No, I did. I’ve heard people say they’re too independent to commit to someone else.
We didn’t get married because we thought it would boost our self esteem. We got married because we realized how dynamic we are together. And when he is gone I can still keep things going. My biggest struggle has been finding a fulfilling job and contributing like I want to. But he’s been there supporting whatever decision I have made, no pressure whatsoever, and encouraging me to pursue what he sees makes me extremely happy.
Marriage, especially in a MILSO position, is like when you really (realllyyyyy) like the way your spouse mows the lawn but when they’re gone you have no problem doing it. It would be great if they could take care of those errands while they’re out and you’re busy but if not, you are more than capable of doing them yourself. It’s having zero communication and still being able to keep your life together going. It’s being able to handle whatever situation you’re placed in so they can focus on getting back safely. I don’t know if you would actually find someone who needs to be a more independent person than a military spouse. (Keyword needs to be.)
You should be respected even when you don’t agree on something. Because you won’t always agree on the correct way to fold towels or who is the better driver. You should both find each other worth the irritations that come with spending life with another person.
Since dating we have always had a rule.
Rule #1: Always Come Back Home.
If you need to walk away from a fight, go cool down. But then come back.
If you’re going on a trip, go. I’ll be here when you get back.
Even if it’s just a normal day going into work you both know you’ll be coming back home at the end of that day.
If you’re gone for one week, three months or one year, go do what you need to do. Just come back home when you’re done.
Love is not always just saying I Love You. It’s the action of coming back home.
Cheers to you and all you love!
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