I keep blowing it. No matter how many anniversaries my husband and I rack up, I still keep making some of the same mistakes in my military marriage.
I’m not alone. Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project, wrote this month about the mistakes she continues to make in her marriage. She fails more on the side of demanding gold stars and using a snappish tone.
The mistakes I keep on making in my military marriage are far more likely to be about the MILITARY part of my life. These are my five mistakes and what I keep doing about them.
Getting mad when the military does military things. What does the military do that makes them THE MILITARY? Ummm, they wear uniforms. They have shortie-short hair. They deploy/train/do field exercises/do workups/travel/attend schools/fight wars. In other words, they leave. Granted, they come back mostly. But it is characteristic of the military that they are gone a lot. I work on this by pretending that my husband is Captain Nemo and will be gone every minute of his three-year sea tour. Then I get pony-for-Christmas happy when he is home. Actually, I do pretty well at this, but sometimes a couple of extra days at sea make me just crazy.
Comparing myself to civilians. I dated civilians. If I remember correctly, I did not want to marry any of them. If I had, I would be using a snappish tone right about now. When I look over the fence these days, I have a terrible habit of only seeing how the husbands of civilians attend sports meetings, mow their lawns, take the kids to school. The civilian life is not my life. The civilian life has nothing to do with my life. I chose someone who is pony-for-Christmas happy about serving on a ship. I love that guy. But that doesn’t stop me from wishing civilians were invisible.
Acting like a single mother. Even women who used to be single moms who are now married to military dudes say that being a single mom is NOTHING like being married to the military. Sometimes I act like it is, making decisions for the kids as if my husband had no vested interest in them. I work on this by talking over some of the more mundane decisions (tennis or swimming lessons?) with my husband and then working him back into conversations with the kids (Dad says that you are old enough to choose for yourself, Kid). The kids like this, especially when Dad is on their side.
Worrying where my fifth grader will go to high school. We have moved 16 times. This, I believe, has permanently scarred me. I find myself worrying about where my fifth grader will go to middle school and high school. I don’t know if you noticed this, but anyone who has already moved 16 times will probably move again. Just like I didn’t know anything about when or where we moved before, I will not know anything about where we move again until it happens. I mostly handle this by saying out loud: DON’T BORROW TOMORROW’S TROUBLES TODAY. This scares strangers.
Forgetting we need alone time. When Brad comes home, I feel ultra-generous with his time. I want people to see him. The kids. Our parents. Our friends. The entire congregation at church. Sometimes I swear he must feel like a science fair experiment. I forget we need long stretches of time just to chill together without an audience. I work on this by blocking out a day on the calendar during his time at home. This is especially good if we can score this alone day on a weekday.
What kind of mistakes do you keep making in your military marriage? Are there any you have stopped making? How do you do that?