Military marriages often require the special art of being able to successfully navigate long periods of physical separation, especially when one spouse is deployed for long periods of time. Overcoming physical distance can be challenging no matter how much two people love each other. If you have kids, the distance can become even more difficult. US Family Health Plan – a TRICARE health program – has some tips to offer on how to keep those love flames going while you are separated from your loved one.
- Remind Yourself of Why You're Making the Sacrifice. When you marry someone in the military, long distance deployments often “go with the territory”. To successfully manage these separations, talk about this often and maintain your perspective on this aspect of your life. Stay focused on how to maintain a strong marital foundation, despite the challenges of long distance. When children are involved, these challenges can seem even greater. If you feel like you’re struggling with an inability to cope, remind yourself of why you and your partner chose to make this kind of sacrifice, and why your partner is worth it. The separation is only temporary, but your marriage is forever.
- Stay Connected, Communicate, and E-Flirt! One of the advantages of digital and social media is that these tools can help you and your partner stay close even with physical distance between you. In the flash of a second you can send a sweet or funny text, a love email, or a flirty photo. You can keep your partner updated on your life and family matters. You can even “watch” a TV show or movie together by sending each other text comments while it’s on. Skype is a great way to connect everybody at once, including the kids and the pets. This way of communicating is free and spontaneous. Make sure that your love notes are always uplifting, informative and/or enticing. Your spouse will appreciate it, and will be looking forward to the next time you can really be together.
- Constructively Deal with Loneliness. Many married people find this hard to admit, but there are a few advantages to being physically separated from your spouse. Instead of spending your time feeling down about the separation, use this time to do some things that matter to you. Is there a class you’ve always wanted to take? Do you have time to hit the gym or try that new yoga class around the corner? Those extra free moments every day can be put to good use. Use them, because you won’t always have them. Acquire a new skill; spend extra time with the kids, or just taking some time out to relax. Those few moments alone nurturing your mind, body or spirit will keep you vibrant and rejuvenated for your spouse when they return.
- Make Your Time Together Magical. Sometimes physical distance can improve a marriage, especially if you cherish your time together. Remember that old saying -- “Absence makes the heart grow stronger.”? Well, it’s true especially when you make the times you do have together count. Because of the distance, time together is even more precious. These are opportunities to make magical memories. Plan little adventures, pamper your partner, and take enjoyable family vacations. Once your partner is deployed again, send sweet reminders of the time you shared together. A picture can be worth a thousand words.
- Take Advantage of Military Marital Support Services. The Chaplain’s Office on many bases offer non-denominational marriage counseling and retreats designed exclusively for military couples. These retreats can be helpful if you feel the long distance is having a detrimental impact on your marriage. Or you just may want to take advantage of the opportunity to strengthen what you have together. Marriage retreats are usually held at wonderful vacation destinations. Child care is available. And while you spend your days in counseling, your evenings are free to go out on dates with your spouse and keep those love flames going.
All in all, it is important to understand that while there are obvious downsides to physical distance in a marriage, there are some surprising upsides too. A strong foundation of love and family will trump distance every time. A strong family foundation is one of the most important things you can have in life. US Family Health Plan believes in healthy, happy marriages. That is why our blog is called Family Matters. So work on keeping those love flames going!