The popular TV drama "This is Us" debuted in late 2016, and TV viewers everywhere fell head-over-heels in love with the heart-wrenching stories of the Pearsons; their relatable, intertwining struggles; and their extended families.
Like so many real people, the Pearsons' lives and relationships in season one were complicated. We watched the story unfold through children's births, loss of parents, lifestyle struggles and family trauma. But one of the best parts of the series was watching the marriage relationships of the story's couples. Through those characters, the show's writers presented truths that every relationship can absorb.
1. Your love story is always beautiful in its own way.
The Jack and Rebecca characters show us that even when marriage is messy -- especially when you add three kids to the mix -- it can still be a wonderful story. Military life rarely goes as planned, but even the hiccups are part of the fabric that makes the story your own.
2. Tragedies happen.
You can let grief define you or you can use it to make a difference. Throughout season one, we watch the Pearsons work through small and big tragedies and all flavors of grief. Like the Pearsons' stories, military marriage can be packed with its own kinds of loss that bring grief -- whether that be death or just the loss of friendships and stability thanks to frequent moves. But "This Is Us" demonstrates that even loss can bring the opportunity to make a difference.
3. You can "call marriage."
The married characters Randall and Beth Pearson have a complicated life working around Randall's demanding job and the schedules of their two daughters. Sound familiar? But in one episode, Beth says, "I call marriage" as she asks Randall to forgo an important work event and instead spend time supporting her and the family.
Although our service members often can't get out of the demands of the military, there are likely times we could "call marriage" if we really wanted or needed to -- but are too afraid to ask. And how often do we agree to let our spouses put in for a billet or re-enlist for a specific assignment without considering how it will impact our long-term relationships. Instead, we could consider hitting pause and putting our families first.
4. It's easy to look scrubbed clean on the outside.
Randall and Beth seem to have it all together. A beautiful house in an affluent neighborhood and a great job make Randall seem like he knows what he is doing and has everything under control. But viewers know that's not necessarily true.
How often do military couples look around and think everyone has military life in the bag except them? Even the shiniest of marriages has its struggles. Everyone has to spend time working on themselves and their relationships.
5. Sometimes you have to work on yourself first in order to make your relationship better.
The character Kate Pearson realizes during the show's first season that to make her relationship with her fiancé successful, she needs to work on herself, first. For Kate, that means trying an intensive therapy program.
Military couples are no different. The stress of military life can lead to big personal burdens or those sacred spaces that make communication really hard. Kate's actions remind us that it's OK to take time to work on yourself as an individual.