Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock

It was just a matter of hours before my husband stepped off of the jet, and we would have yet another notch on our "deployment belt."  The house was spotless, the kids are scrubbed and even the dogs have been washed.  To say we were excited would be an understatement.  No matter how many/or few deployments you do they all contain the same state of emotions:  mourning of the loss of your loved one in the beginning; the feeling of newfound independence; pure exhaustion followed by elation at their homecoming.  However there is one part of the deployment that is understated, in my humble opinion, and that is the readjustment period.  Yes, yes, yes.  That can be a very tricky time for both of you.  That is the time when we are reintroducing ourselves to one another and trying to back into the groove, if you will.  Truth is, sometimes,  that groove changes.  A new schedule might have been implemented; a new list of chores might have been doled out, etc.  That can be frustrating for the returning spouse and possibly lead to some disagreements.  I say all this, not because I have some great words of wisdom on how to avoid these issues.  In fact, I think they're inevitable, even for the most prepared couple.  I say this, because this can be a real test on your marriage.  In fact, it can become such a trying time on a marriage that couples have indeed decided it  best to go their separate ways.  After being a part for so long, they've already learned to live separate lives, right?  Wrong.  Not only is that a ruse, but it would break every commitment ever made to one another.  When couples get married they recite vows: 

I, ----, take you, ----, to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife), my constant friend, my faithful partner and my love from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.

I must confess; marriage is the hardest commitment I have ever entered into.  Dare I say, it is harder than raising children (although that is a very close second), buying a house, moving away from family, or even becoming a military spouse.  It demands my attention at all times and at all costs.  When I said "I do" to Mike 12 years ago, I pledged myself to him.  I promised to be his partner in sickness and health, in good times and bad, and in joy as well as sorrow.  I promised on us.  I decided on that day that I would choose to love this man no matter what the world may throw at us or what we may bring upon ourselves.  It's not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.  There are a few pointers that may help us all along the road of building/rebuilding a strong marriage. 

1.  You can choose to be kind.
In the midst of an argument, the very last thing on your mind is to be kind.  However, do you realize that being kind actually creates a blessing?  It take practice, but taking a deep breath and restraining yourself from saying the ugly words on your mind may be the best move you can make.  Not only will it help defuse your spouse's temper, you will also be honoring God.
"Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
just as God through Christ has forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:32
2.  You can choose to be patient.
Wow.  Now I'm asking you to be patient with the person who quite possibly just lit your fuse on purpose?  Or be patient with the person who is angry at the fact there are no groceries in the house?  Yes, I am.  Although I am by no means an expert, from my marriage, I have learned that more often than not a lot of anger comes from issues that have nothing to do with me at all.  If your spouse is stressed out at work, feeling unappreciated or even unloved, rather than "talk" to you, they may just lash out.  However, retaliation never defuses a situation, it just intensifies it.
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."    
Ephesians 4:2

3.  You can choose to fight fair.
Oooooh, there are sometimes I get so angry I just want to sling mud.  I just want to make Mike as angry as he's made me...and yes, I've done just that.  Did I get anywhere?  No.  In fact, the only thing I succeeded in was fueling the fire and bringing up past hurts that had already been forgiven.  Believe it or not, there is a way to disagree with dignity.  That's not to say the fires of wrath will not be churning inside, but the way you respond to those unwanted feelings is up to you.  Our goal as wives, should be to make our marital bridge stronger, not tear it down.
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:1

Stephen and Alex Kendrick say it best in The Love Dare,

"The love that's demanded from you in marriage is not dependent on your mate's sweetness or suitability.  the love between a husband and wife should have one chief objective:  honoring the Lord with devotion and sincerity.  the fact that it blesses our beloved in the process is simply a wonderful, additional benefit.
                                            .  .  .  .

"Love motivated by mere duty cannot hold out for love.  And love that is only motivated by favorable conditions can never be assured of sufficient oxygen to keep it breathing.  Only love that is lifted up as an offering to God - returned to Him in gratitude for all He's done - is able to sustain itself when all other reasons have lost their ability to energize us."

The next time a transitional period comes along; perhaps a new baby, a loss of a loved one, an illness, a deployment, loss of a job or a big relocation, let's in essence, renew our vows to one another.  We meant them when we said them.  By honoring the Lord and sticking it out, you will be blessed.

 Although we are still works in progress, we strive to honor God, love each other and emulate what real love looks like to our children.

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