Category Archives: marriage

Dear God,

Dear God,

I need your help with how I handle change. I know change is inevitable. I’m going to experience change no matter how much I dread it. My family will grow and change as my children get older and my marriage will evolve as we move further into life together as a whole. Things are going to change, and there is nothing I can do about it except allow myself to adapt.

My problem is that I desperately want to avoid change. My brain automatically recognizes change as a flaw in the system and sends out an alert to the rest of my body, throwing me into complete panic. *CAUTION! CHANGE APPROACHING* begins flashing in my head and I cannot, will not deal. Before I know it, my blood pressure has shot up, my heart is racing at the speed of light, and I’ve already lived through 17 different scenarios, in my mind where everything goes terribly wrong. Nervous breakdown. Failure to compute. Emergency exit to your left (I wish!).

 

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This is where you step in, Lord. Okay, okay you’re there the entire time, undoubtedly shaking your head, waiting patiently for me to get off of the floor and stop having a childish tantrum. God, if you were even slightly human, I’m sure you’d say something like, “Here she goes again,” and then roll your eyes. Thank heaven you aren’t that way.

After some time passes -could be one day, could be ten- but finally I awaken from my “drunken stupor” and remember how much you love me. I remind myself that, even though some changes really do suck, I have a heavenly Father helping me to work through it all. I’ll admit, as a wife and mother of 4 I sometimes feel alone when going through changes. I feel needed but not supported, until I remember God that you strengthen me when I’m weak, you provide for all of my needs and you are close to the brokenhearted.

 

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I know I know, I don’t really need to be brokenhearted during a change, but military life tends to have that effect on you. Still, whether it’s the military once again pulling me and my family away from every single thing we’ve grown to know and enjoy, or it’s me trying to force my way back into being a working mom, or even dealing with the fact that my sweet little boys are becoming a lot more self-sufficient, you have my back, and my front…and my everything. I am immensely thankful for an loving God who “does not change like shifting shadows.” That’s pretty awesome, because you know how much I hate change.

It’s Not About Feelings

When it comes to loving someone, truly loving them, you have to ignore your feelings. I know that sounds crazy, especially since in a new relationship most of the “love” you feel is very feely. The butterflies every time you see them, that burst of emotion when you’re kissed on the neck before parting ways, holding hands, feeling his hands on your hips as he draws you in for a kiss; very feely stuff and I get that. I had the feely love before I got married 13 years ago. But let me tell you, after some time and a few children that feely stuff comes and goes. So, my advice to you, for love in the long run, is to get past the feelings.

Feelings don’t just say all the sweet and lovie dovie things, do they? I can recall a time or ten when my feelings for my husband made me angry or thought of him as inconsiderate. Sometimes our feelings tell us we need a break to figure things out. There are even couples that enjoy arguing and feel like that’s a good part of their relationship. Bottom line, feelings are unreliable. They are all over the place; here one second, gone the next. Let’s not let a long-term relationship be based on something so feeble. Let’s find out what love is really supposed to be.

Love is supposed to be unconditional. That word, unconditional, it’s self-explanatory isn’t it? No conditions. There is no, “I love you if,” or, ” I love you when,” it is simply, “I love you.”

My husband doesn’t always make me happy but that is no excuse for me to stop loving him. He doesn’t do everything the way I prefer but that is no excuse for me to stop loving him. We don’t always agree on how things should be handled in our family life but still…we choose to love. That’s how you get past the feeling and over into the unconditional side of things, by choosing. Decide that you are going to love this person even if your feelings tell you not to.

 

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family vacation in Garmisch, Germany

Here are a few tips to help you choose love each day:

  • Don’t create a standard that your loved one must meet in order for you to accept them.
    • It’s super difficult to love someone if it’s based on rules you created
  • Let yourself be angry, upset, or sad with that person while remembering that those emotions do not negate your love for them. You are allowed to have feelings, you just shouldn’t let those feelings dictate your love.
  • Forgive. Some of us are holding on to things that we should have gotten over years ago and it’s time to forgive. I know it sucks, but the forgiveness may be the closure you need for yourself to begin to love again.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and find out what God says love is supposed to look like.

I must warn those of you who’ll read 1 Corinthians 13, it’s a pretty tall order to fill. The love God designed is a lot more lenient and caring than any of us would like to be, even in marriage. It may be difficult but it’s worth it.

Maybe right now you’re in the emotional, ooey-gooey, butterflies love stage of your relationship and that’s totally fine. We’ve all been there. What I want you to remember is that this stage is temporary, and though it is fun, there is so much beyond that. Love, real love will take your relationship to an entirely new level. If you’ll purposely work on mastering the God-designed model of love, you’ll see your relationship soar to new heights.

Wives-What it Means to “Submit”

I don’t think submission to a husband is easy but I also don’t think it’s wrong. There are a few synonyms to the word submit that I found quite entertaining:

  • endure
  • tolerate
  • humor

Endure your husband’s behavior because (hopefully) you know he’s not doing anything out of selfish ambition. Any good husband genuinely has his family’s best interest at heart. Whether or not his choices are always right we don’t know, but you can at least testify to good intentions.

Tolerate the fact that God has put this in the bible because clearly we weren’t gonna do this all on our own. If it makes you feel any better, he also had to tell people not to murder.

Lastly, humor him. Don’t make him feel like his ideas or methods aren’t correct because they aren’t what you’re used to. Your way isn’t the only way and it’s not always the right way either.

Sometimes I think about how I “submit” to my husband. This is a staggered occurrence that is done normally in response to him behaving in a way I find acceptable, and in those moments in between submission, I am simply living. I am a loving, kind, challenging and sometimes an argumentative wife.

But submit is such an ugly word, isn’t it? You look at it and you think, “Submit? Me? To…HIM?!” At the moment the idea of being submissive is annoying to me. However, the scripture is specific about who the submission is directed to.

Let’s take a look:

GOD, LOVE & FAMILY (1)

 

This scripture is almost instructing us to inspect the way we submit to the Lord. If our submission to our spouse is supposed to match that of the way we submit to our heavenly Father, then perhaps that relationship- the one between heavenly Father and daughter-is the one we need to evaluate.

When I think of how I submit to God, I think of a parental relationship that doesn’t quite match the one I had with my parents as a child. As a child, I obeyed out of fear and I rebelled out of resentment. With God, I obey because of what he’s done for me, and because it seems an (almost) appropriate response to his unconditional love for me. It stands to reason that how you view God in your life is directly related to how you will respond to his words, either in obedience or the opposite.

Regardless of the circumstances, it’ll be a lot easier for your husband to love you as Christ loved the church if he’s got a wife that is willing to compliment his efforts instead of thwarting them, and it’ll be a lot easier for you to submit when you take comfort in the love of a husband who loves you like Christ loves the church.

In other words, wives submit to your husband as to the Lord.

Pray Like Jesus Prayed

I woke up one morning to have prayer and I was drawn to read John 17. I thought to myself, “I wanna pray how Jesus prayed,” and that’s exactly what I did. In John 17 Jesus prays this amazing prayer about how he wants God to keep us from evil and sanctify (set apart) us in the truth, and how he wants us to be one as he and God are one. It’s touching when you think about it, because these things happened before he was betrayed and arrested. All the while, he knew what was about to happen, and there he was praying for us.

Here’s the thing, we all come into this world as sinners. That’s an ugly thought isn’t it? …but it’s true. We don’t enter the earth as Christ followers. That is a choice that we have to make on our own. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that every person from then on would automatically have him. No he died so that every person would have the choice to accept him. Whether or not we do is up to us…and yet he prayed saying, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,“. We relay the message and others can choose to accept Christ. That’s the beauty of the relationship we have with him, that it isn’t forced upon you. If, perhaps, you feel forced to give your life to Christ, looking into this prayer may change your perspective.

Finallyfoundmy newhome!

I wrote a prayer of my own that morning. I wanted to pray for my family the way Jesus prayed for all believers, and so that’s just what I did. The following prayer is inspired by the prayer of Jesus in John 17:

Father, In Jesus’ name,

I know with certainty that Jesus came from you, and I believe that you sent him. Holy Father, protect us by the power of your name, the name you gave your son, so that we, the body of Christ, may be one as you and Christ are one.

I thank you that we can have the full measure of Christs joy within us, and I receive that joy. My prayer is not that you would take us out of the world, but that you would protect us from the evil one. I receive that protection.

Sanctify us by the truth; your word is truth. Jesus has sent us into the world and sanctified himself, that we too may be truly set apart. 

I receive the glory that Christ has given us, that we may be one with other believers as you and Christ are one. Christ in us and you in him.

May we be brought to complete unity to tell the world that you sent your son and you love them as you have loved him.

Father, I thank you for allowing us to be with Christ, where he is, and to see his glory.

We will make your son known to the world as Christ has and will continue to make him known in order that the love you have for us may be in them and that you yourself may be in them as you are in us.

~Amen

Mili-Wives & Cheating

I’ve been a military spouse going on 10 years and man have I heard some stories! Rumors, gossip, whatever you call it, spouses are cheating on each other and it’s tearing families apart.  Your soldier works A LOT. And when they’re not working they are being called at all hours of the night, getting a bazillion work texts and, very likely, dreaming about work! They are out on deployments, missions and field activities and it gets lonely.

I also get that flirting makes one feel good about one’s self…especially if that one is a mama who normally feels pretty boring and frumpy. Every once in a while you wanna know that you still got it, right? I’ve had those moments where a man (in passing) would flirt and I’d think to myself, “Okay, so the mom jeans aren’t as lame as I thought they were.” It’s totally normal to enjoy having someone flirt with you, and perhaps, a one-time passer-by giving you a little attention is harmless. Perhaps.

But what if it’s an ongoing thing? What if it’s someone you see every single day and you are flirting with them? That is where I see a potential for cheating.

Simple things you can do to cope with loneliness

Giving decent people the benefit of the doubt, I’d like to believe that most people do not begin flirting with the intention of cheating. BUT these things happen and so I’ve got a few suggestions to help you cope with the loneliness that inevitably comes with being a military spouse.

  1. Keep the lines of communication open
    • I know. I know. This is the number one piece of advice you will hear from EVERY marriage counselor in the world. From the beginning days of my marriage, 13 years ago, the one thing I was told over and over was that I should communicate with my husband. It frustrated me because they never ONCE explained that its important for me to find out HOW my husband best communicates. So let me be the one to tell you, before you go on a talking spree, trying to force your spouse into deep conversations, find out how your loved one communicates. For instance, perhaps your husband (like every man on earth) isn’t very verbal, you could try writing him a letter.
      • However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. -Ephesians 5:33

    • In this letter you want to avoid any accusatory language, and try your best not to look back at past issues that you’re still upset about. Just be in that moment and write something that expresses your heart. I’ve personally tried this approach on multiple occasions and it worked like magic.
  2. Hold on to the romance like your marriage depends on it
    • It does. Your marriage very likely depends on it. As soon as the romance dies there’s a chance one of you will look for it with someone else. I’ll never understand why but instead of coming together to work things out, most couples simply choose to place the blame and find love in someone else. As a military spouse it’s so easy to become distant from your soldier. They’re never around. They miss amazing family milestones. They are preoccupied with work even when they’re home and it drives you crazy. I get it.
      • May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer- may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.                         – Proverbs 5:18,19

    • The answer is not to draw away from your spouse, it’s to draw closer. Write a love note and leave it in their pocket. Buy them a “just because” gift. Make them their favorite dessert after work. Run them a bath. If you have to literally plan a day to have sex then PLAN IT. If, after a while, you notice they’re not reciprocating then fine, step up and say something directly. But give it time. Military life is NOT easy. Not on you and not on your soldier either.
    • Create your happy and share it with someone you love
  3. I want you to know that this, my final tip, is the most important tip of them all. LOVE YOURSELF.
    • Seriously, read that line again and again…and again. When your spouse is distant you may start to feel unattractive. This is especially true if you’re a mother. Everyone tells you to take time for yourself but, who’s got the time? House needs cleaning, multiple kids have sports practice and after school clubs, gotta have dinner done on time, help the kids with homework and who knows what else…time for myself? How?!
    •  It’s so important to love yourself. Say positive affirmations in the mirror. Find a scripture or 3 in the Bible about who God says you are, and say them to yourself out loud every day. Treat yourself to something you enjoy when you’ve got the time, and DON’T guilt yourself into thinking you don’t deserve it. You’ll clean the house when it’s time, but you need time to love you.

Here are a few scriptures to get you started on those positive affirmations:

A wife of noble character is worth far more than rubies. She brings her husband good, not harm all the days of her life – Proverbs 31:11,12

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come – Proverbs 31:25

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised – Proverbs 31:30

Put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment 

 1 Timothy 6:17b

 

 

 

Mili-Wives: How to Stay Sane

After 3 years we PCS’d from Germany to Texas and, after a month of living here it hit me, as I sat on the couch, one day this place, this place I JUST moved into will be the place I miss. One day I will have to pack up everything I own and start my life all over again in another state or maybe, once again, another country. That very thought paralyzed me in a state of severe anxiety. I’m sure you’ve been there before.

It isn’t that I’m homesick anymore, because home isn’t a specific place for me. I was born in Pennsylvania, moved to Maryland in the 9th grade and Virginia after I graduated. People would ask where I was from and I’d randomly pick from the various places I’ve lived…and I was not a military child. So no, homesickness doesn’t come from a location. It comes from the people around me that have made that location feel like home…and every so often I’ve got to start that over with all new people. In an effort to describe the way that feels, all I can say is, IT SUCKS.

Life is not

Non-directed steps. That’s it, isn’t it? None of us has any clue what we’re doing! We just get up everyday and expect things to work out. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t, but we keep moving. That’s exactly what a military family has to do…figuratively and literally. We’ve got to keep moving. The fact is, when the non-soldier of the family, whether that is dad or mom, is out of sorts and stressed, that will eventually begin to affect your children in more ways than one. Take it from me. I was immensely depressed leaving Germany and, as a result I unfortunately neglected my children, which threw them into a state of depression as well.

So here’s what you do: KEEP MOVING. If your children were in sports or taking an instrument or in a club of some sort at your last duty station, waste NO time, be sure to get them right back into the swing of it at your new duty station. They’ll make friends right away and have a small sense of familiarity doing something they enjoyed.

Make your house a home. You don’t get your household goods for another 3 weeks and you’re sleeping on that ugly loaned furniture in the meantime. Been there. Go to Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart and pick out a few new things to make the place feel home-y. Let the kids pick out new rugs for the bathroom or a poster for their bedroom. Make the place your own right away!

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Be there for your soldier. He’s got to adjust to an all new setting too, doesn’t he? Surprise him with lunch one day or set your alarm super early to get up and say a short prayer with him before he leaves for PT. Leave a note in his pocket telling him how much you love him. Call him randomly and ask how his day is going. Stay aware of how things are for him, because this change is just as drastic for your soldier as it is for you.

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Lastly (although I could go on and on) YOU need to get plugged in. Go to the FRG meetings. Join the PTA or find some other area to volunteer at your children’s school. Join a local gym. Take a class at the local community center. Visit churches in the area and go on a Wednesday…in my experience it was always easier to meet people on a Wednesday than Sunday. Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to stay cooped up in the house alone, sulking and wishing you’d never left your last duty station. Your family needs you and you need your sanity!

I hope you find these suggestions helpful and I hope you’ll share them with someone you care about. If you’ve got your own ways of staying sane through a PCS please share the in the comments!

Till next time…

R.L.

 

Dealing with Resentment as a Military Spouse

8 military years feels like more than a decade when you are a military spouse and I wrote this to touch the nerves of those who have dealt with (or are dealing with) resentment for their spouse. I hope you enjoy and please comment, your thoughts are welcomed!

When your marriage becomes an afterthoughtYou must be patient because it’s not his fault. He’s not working ridiculous hours because he wants to; still you find yourself getting angry. “I’m here alone, you know?” you say to yourself, inwardly hoping your spouse will hear your heart. As selfish as it may sound, you’re over all of it- early mornings, late nights, long field training, deployments, everything. And with yet another impending change looming over your heads, you find yourself growing increasingly doubtful about the sanctity of marriage. Perhaps, in his mind, this change is exactly what you need, but to you it’s no more than another avenue to a broken dream. An opportunity to get your hopes up only to have them shattered by reality. There is no hope for better days. Maybe outside of the military, yes, but that is all.

He’s a soldier now, and as a soldier his phone doesn’t stick to his hip, it sticks to his brain and he is slave to it; awaiting the next order from a higher rank on how to live out his next day. Every conversation has become about work. When he wakes up he is a soldier. While he is home he is a soldier and when he’s away from home, but not at work, he is a soldier. Perhaps the idea of a neglectful spouse is far exaggerated when that person becomes a soldier. His entire identity becomes enveloped in rank, positions and ratings. Whoever he was before military life, well, that man is dead and gone. Only remnants of him remain in your mind.
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Your relationship as husband and wife is starting to feel like no more than an afterthought. If there were a time when he put any energy into being a better spouse it is no more. “I suppose we’ll have a happy marriage after,” you say to yourself, “after work, after dinner, after school, after the kids, after bed, after all is said and done, we’ll have a conversation that resembles a couple of friends that used to know each other. People who once spent a lot of time together but slowly fell into the soul-sucking droll of everyday life, until one day they were no more than passersby, exchanging a smile to be polite.”

You knew military life would be different than being a civilian, but you had no idea just how tightly your life would be tied to your soldier, being forced to uproot your entire life every few years and having to start over in a new place with new people who you will inevitably be saying goodbye to, forever, one day. You simply wish for a sense of normality. There is a world of people out there that can separate home and work life, you know? They go to work and come home to enjoy their families and you find yourself asking, so often, “why can’t that be us?” And perhaps it can be, one day, but you can’t begin to think of where to start.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO END THERE

As a word of encouragement to military spouses, it get easier. The hard part is looking past the uniform and remembering who your husband is. It may be even harder to help him remember who he is outside of work. The military owns you, in a sense, and there are jobs where they are called all hours of the day and night about work, so switching off is extremely difficult. Still the need for a “normal” family life will always be there, and it is up to the spouse (whether husband or wife) to be there to foster that sense of normality.

You’ve got to do your best to make your house a home and, without negating your spouses military achievements, show them how much more important quality time with family really is. Resentment may feel like it’s unavoidable sometimes but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Forgive, move on and live life the best way you know how, as a loving, supportive spouse.

If you or someone you know can relate to this, please leave a comment! And if you know someone to understands what it’s like to feel like a neglected military spouse, please share this with them!

Till next time…

R.L.