My Christian military marriage is mediocre. And I’m sad.
The past few years have brought a number of challenges.
We’re in the season of life where our parents are aging in front of us. We’ve watched two different parents receive terminal diagnoses, one of whom slowly died over a several-year span and another who died days after the diagnosis. Since then, we’ve dismantled the family home on each side of the family, moving the survivors into smaller, and again smaller, housing.
We’re in the season of life where our children are aging out of our home. As military brats, they are mostly thankful for the lessons learned over the years and during multiple moves. The reality of the “empty nest” is our new normal rather than a future hurdle.
I spent most of my adult life serving as a military wife. (I’m old enough to have called myself a military wife rather than use today’s term of “military spouse” and I’m okay with that term.) I embraced the call to serve, first in a uniform and then as my husband’s helpmeet.
Military retirement loomed with its uncertainty of “now what” and “where” – and “how”… I felt like the Old Testament patriarch, Joshua, as he stepped into the Jordan River after he and his people had wandered for forty years in the desert. God had shown us that it was time for us to “cross the river” from active duty life to an unknown. I clung to His promise that He would go before us.
My home front changed and this life beyond the active duty military still feels unfamiliar.
I’ve now lived in one house for longer than I ever have. The military pace of life has slowed considerably. Even though he continues to work in the defense industry, my husband hasn’t spent a night away due to work. No PCSing. No duty rosters. No being the “newbie” in the community.
And now our marriage is struggling.
I worked hard to keep the home front going while he worked long hours in difficult situations. I flexed between the seasons when he would come home at night and the seasons when I was asked a thousand times a day, “When Dada come back?” I’ve smiled as my kids turned 10, and got their first ID cards. I practiced living life like the woman described in Proverbs 31.
Now I’m struggling with the question of “Who are we as a married couple?” While reflecting on this question, I made decisions to guard my health. I take a mild anti-depressant medication. I have a regular fitness routine with workout buddies. I have been seeing a counselor. I’ve improved my conflict resolution skills. I’ve worked hard to learn about and maintain healthy boundaries.
And my marriage is still mediocre.
My husband and I went to counseling for a while, and then he decided he was done with counseling. I narrowed my question to, “Who am I in this marriage since he isn’t particularly interested in changes?”
I’ve been going through the grief process. I’m sad that he isn’t able or interested or willing to work toward a better marriage. I’m sad that he sets aside the emotional impact that the military lifestyle had on him and on our marriage.
Just as joy comes in the morning after a night of suffering, I’m seeing the growth that can happen even in the grief.
- No matter the state of my marriage, Jesus delights in me as “his bride”
- While I long for deeper intimacy with my husband, I can deepen my intimacy with the God who sees me as fearfully and wonderfully made
I am learning to leave hoped-for changes to the Holy Spirit through the avenue of prayer. I search out truths in Scripture. I listen to songs that remind me of God’s character. I practice keeping my heart soft and my posture open.
Bottom line: Even though my military marriage is mediocre, I press on to toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).
Thanks be to God for His indescribable grace.
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