Scrolling though my newsfeed on Facebook this morning, I ran across this list shared by a friend. I am not sure where it originated. I tried googling it, and came up with 2 dozen options all a bit different than this list but similar. I would love to be able to link back to whoever created it! If you know, please share it in the comments and I will happily add it to this post!
I think that these tips for keeping a strong and healthy marriage are wonderful, and true. Some are simple little things that can really mean a lot to a spouse, others are not so simple. From my own personal experience some of these are more time consuming and difficult. Hubs and I are not perfect, our marriage is not perfect but together we are a team and we both work at letting each other know we are in this for forever!
All marriages go through ebbs and flows. Years, stress, moves all take a tole on relationships. In the Military Community some of these are more emphasized than others. Take a marriage with 2 imperfect people, add in life and then add deployments, moves across the country, time spent alone and other stresses of military life and it just adds to the list of things that could potentially pull 2 people apart. It can also draw 2 people closer together, if they both work at it!
Until recently I would have said that the military community was the ONLY (yea I know stereotyping, and the use of ONLY is usually a mistake, but I am human) place where there was added stress on a marriage, but I was wrong. Each career choice changes the lives of everyone in a marriage. I have seen from friends with spouses in Police and Fire departments, go through very similar stresses on their marriage just like the military community.
Below is the list in it’s original form as I found it. I did take a few moments to highlight some of the things I think are particularly important to military families, or ones that just caught my attention longer than others.
1. Always love each other, even when it’s hard to
2. Never go to bed angry.
3. Go on regular date nights
4. Hide notes in secret places
5. Go to bed at the same time
This is easier said than done! If your spouse works at job that is a set schedule, you probably think I am crazy right now and that’s ok. In our home, Hubs goes to bed at 9(ish) every single night. He is awake around 0400 every single day. I, on the other hand, would be perfectly happy going to bed at 11-12 every night and getting up at 6! It has taken a lot of time to get into the habit of going to bed when he does. These days I do go to bed when Hubs gets tired, I lay there with him until he falls asleep. Then I am on my phone scrolling Pinterest, Facebook and checking emails until my brain decides it is sleepy. This has resulted in several drops of my phone directly onto my nose, but I know he appreciates that I go to bed when he does. This is probably NOT what the original writer considered when they said go to bed at the same time, I am guessing they meant actually going to bed and sleeping. But for now it’s the compromise that we are making for us.
This is not always the case though, sometimes his schedule just does not allow us to go to bed at the same time. Back at Ft. Bliss there were weeks where he did night ranges, so he was coming home at 0700 after I had been awake for an hour, or field time when we were apart, deployments etc. Those nights were just not an option, so when it is an option to go to bed at the same time I really try to make it happen even if I am not the least bit tired.
6. Listen to music together-share ear-buds
7. Buy him gifts he will love
8. Revitalize the romance with intimate dates
9. Wear shirts that tell the world you love your spouse
10. Praise your spouse to other people *see note below*
11. Read a marriage devotional
12. Sleep in his t-shirts
13. Renew your vows privately with whispers and memories
14. Renew them publicly with cake and bubbly
Someday we will have an actual wedding, with friends and family. An actual ceremony shared with everyone we love who can attend. It is a long term goal for us, but it will happen!
15. Go away together at least once a year
This has never happened for us, unless you count moving. Hubs and I have never taken an actual vacation, ever! We should probably work on that.
For Women Only
16. Hang pictures of the two of you around your house
17. Make his favorite dessert
18. Make sex a priority
19. Spend time apart occasionally
This one made me giggle. Not because it is inaccurate, but because it is so true. Do you recall the post back in January I think, I Love you but Please go to Work!? At that moment, Hubs and I had spent too much uninterrupted time together as were driving each other crazy. Luckily, in the Military Communities, these times spent apart are built in. They really can make your marriage stronger if you want them too. They can also drive two people apart if you let them.
Hubs and I have tried to make our times spent apart, strengthen our marriage rather than weaken it. So far we are doing pretty good at it, at least I think we are. When both people work towards a single goal, it helps!
20. Learn to enjoy something he loves
21. Surprise each other
22. Meet him at the door
23. Text each other from across the room
This happens a lot at our house! Or in restaurants! We went out for our anniversary one year and the restaurant was very loud. Hubs is pretty soft spoken most of the time so I had a hard time hearing him. We started texting each other and the waitress noticed and commented on it. We were still talking but texting as well. She thought it was silly, I thought it was sweet.
24. Set reminders on your phone to remember him/her throughout the week
25. Call him right now and tell him you appreciate him
For Men Only
26. Leave work on time and come home early
27. Engage every day in meaningful conversation
28. Compliment each other
29. Take one day a month to make your spouse your total focus
30. Argue fair: avoid these words “you always” and “you never”
31. Kiss every day
20+ years ago, my Gramita painted a saying above her and Grampys bed. At the time I was 11 or younger and I thought it was silly. “Always Kiss Me, Goodnight”. That’s what she painted, and back then I did not understand. They were married, they were Grandparents, of course they kissed each other goodnight, every night. At least in my young head that’s how it works right? 20 some odd years later, I now realize how important that statement is and how un-simple it is as well.
When feelings are hurt, tempers are flared or people are generally unhappy, giving your spouse a kiss is not high on the priority list. But it should be!
32. Find tangible ways to serve your mate without complaining
33. Forgive quickly
34. Be honest.
35. Get on the same page: plan your budget together
36. Look your best as often as you can
37. Guard your marriage
38. Laugh together
39. When you are together-BE TOGETHER (take a break from phones, technology, etc)
40. Tell her she’s pretty, especially when she’s not feeling it
41. Make each other breakfast in bed
42. Do her chores for her
44. Get a couple’s massage or host your own privately
44. Dance together-soft music (both of you alone) or rocking music with the kids
45. Exercise together- hikes, bike riding, etc
46. Choose not to be annoyed by an irritating behavior/disappointment from your spouse
I fail at this a lot.
47. Thank your spouse often even for the least reason or gesture
48. Lay in bed together and stare into each other eyes, without talking
49. Learn something new together-take an art class, cooking lessons, etc
50. Leave a sweet comment on the Facebook wall
51. Support each other’s goals
52. Bring her flowers/gifts (even when she says they are too expensive)
I love Hubs, but this step is forgotten quite often unless its Valentines Day. He always remembers Valentines day!
53. Wear something your spouse loves
54. Share furniture-sit in his lap
55. Fight for your marriage
56. Make a point to eat dinner together most days of the week.
57. Never let your spouse feel like they come second place to your career or any other thing.
Honesty check here: The Army comes first. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either dreaming, or new. At least that’s my take on it. If the Army did not come first, we would have spent 5/5 anniversaries together (in August) instead of this year making it 2/5 together. Even with Hubs now being National Guard, this year will be spent apart. We would have celebrated every Christmas together, instead of having to put him on a plane 2 days before Christmas one year right after we got married. We would have spent more than 4 days together before we said, “I Do”. We could live ANYWHERE we wanted, yep still not true even today.
BUT, and yep its a big BUT! Hubs’ career coming first, and FEELING like it comes first are two very different things! Hubs tries very hard to make me feel like I am #1 in his life. Does it always work? No, but the effort he puts into it counts for a lot. Even this past weekend we had “intense fellowship” (his Gmas words) about it. Between National Guard duties, full time school/studying, and then his boys nights out, I was feeling more like #99.
It took me a while to admit this to him. I don’t want to be the needy wife that makes him feel bad for furthering his education etc. but it is how I was feeling. It was how I was personally feeling, not how he was acting that was the issue. I could see that he was trying but I needed a bit more.
After talking together we came up with a goal of eating dinner together more often, instead of Hubs coming home and going straight to school work. It may only be an extra 20-30 minutes of time, not really much in the grand scheme of life, but it has made a huge difference in the past 2 evenings. Now I know that every single night this is not going to be an option. Finals are coming up, drill weekends will interrupt it, and long annual training but with both of us working on this together I feel like I am a heck of a lot closer to being #1 rather than #99 on the priority list.
58. Talk about your dreams and aspirations. Be supportive of each other and dream big together!
59. Maintain a united front as your motto: Meaning- “Me and you against the world”.
60. Speak well of your spouse *See note below*
I think this list is great, and it reminded me of areas I need to work on, and that we need to work on together. I am sure more things could be added or some changed a bit. Like I said earlier, I did not create this list but I do think it is a helpful reminder for all of us to work on our marriages.
*note* At this moment, Hubs is not at home. I just finished writing this up and sent him a text message about the post, and how I used examples from our life. I do my best to not post personal/marriage things on here without running it past Hubs first. It is his life too! I asked if he would like to read it before I posted this, and his response was “I trust you. go ahead and post it”.