Our hope is that you never seek a settlement in your marriage, but that you and your spouse would fight for a thriving connection in every season.
We believe that is possible for every military couple to have a thriving marriage. Through our unique backgrounds in the military and legal fields, the Lord gave us opportunities to see many marriages at different stages and in different seasons. We have seen that, regardless of religious faith, the same things were causing the same problems and most of these issues happened early in the marriage and went unaddressed for long periods of time. We want to share the wisdom we have gained so that you and your spouse can thrive, not just survive.
Become a Student of Marriage
I (Bryon) worked with airmen and continuously saw one major problem: they did not know what marriage was. Many times, the most exposure to marriage teaching they received was actually on their wedding day when the preacher was officiating their vows. The theology of marriage tells us what God is doing spiritually when that union happens. Our advice is to become a life-long student and truly learn what marriage is in God’s eyes.
Pursue a “Team Marriage”
One of the unique challenges facing military families is long periods of distance. This can lead to greater levels of miscommunication. When I would meet with military men or women who were away from their home and spouse, they would often use phrases like,
“What are they doing?”
“What is the matter with them?”
“Why are they handing this issue this way?”
I would quickly stop them and encourage them to start with the presupposition that their spouse does not realize that this specific action bothers them. We recommend pursuing a “Team Marriage” mindset. This is a commitment to always presume that your spouse is on your side and is not trying to sabotage you.
We have heard it said, “expectations unsaid are expectations unmet.” This is particularly challenging for military members who are long distances from their spouse. We would suggest that every fight a couple has stems from what we call an “un-expectation”. These are the unvoiced and unmet expectations that we carry with us. In my conversations with airmen, they would often express disappointment when they returned from deployment about how their expectations were unmet. These included how the house was run, how their spouse showed affection, how children were disciplined, and how their spouse communicated with them. When I asked if they had shared these expectations with their spouse, the answer was almost always no. We can avoid these obstacles when we simply communicate our desires and move forward in unity.
We have had many conversations in the past about issues where one of us is upset, but we don’t know why just yet. It is so important to figure out why something bothers you and share this openly with your spouse. When we took time to communicate and help each other track our emotions, our connection deepened. We always recommend pausing before you communicate with your spouse and having a moment of introspection with the Lord. Taking this time will protect your connection with your spouse and will help you communicate clearly without spilling out emotions.
Having a career in the legal field, I (Jenn), see a lot of settlements. Our hope is that you never seek a settlement in your marriage, but that you and your spouse would fight for a thriving connection in every season.
Bryon and Jenn Harvey have a wealth of knowledge in the areas of marriage and family, specifically in the challenges that military families are facing. Check out their book, Operation Thriving Marriage, for more wisdom!