From the moment I met my husband, I knew he was the one. He stood out with his unique way of talking, infectious laugh, and a personality that gave me butterflies. Eight months after we first met, we were engaged. Five months after that, we said “I do.” Little did we know, the marriage journey was going to be a challenging one. And yet, through each trial, we discovered the resilience to overcome and, more importantly, the ability to grow together.
For me, marrying my husband meant entering the military community. I quickly realized no amount of preparation could qualify me for a lifestyle like this. Before getting engaged, my husband and I discovered our future together would include an overseas assignment. I envisioned a life of exciting travels in a foreign country; I even started planning trips before we got stationed. But within the first month of marriage, the life I had fantasized about unfolded unexpectedly.
We experienced three unplanned relocations and uncertainty loomed over when the next possible move could occur. My mind raced with thoughts of future deployments, the potential distance between our future kids and their dad, and the emerging possibility of holidays without him. What had seemed like an exciting chapter of newlywed life became a period filled with anxiety, depression, and doubt.
Even without the military side, navigating the challenges married couples face can be overwhelming: a hectic work schedule, sick children, an emergency vet trip, etc.
How to grow together: build a solid foundation
After attending FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway in San Antonio, my husband and I gained wisdom on how to nurture a deeper connection with each other. Attending a marriage conference filled with godly materials put us on the right track to cultivating a lasting marriage.
Here are some key points we learned on how to build a solid foundation in your marriage.
1. We’re not alone.
Entering a military breakout session, I soon realized that many of these couples had stories similar to ours. It reassured us that our situation wasn’t unique; there were couples that understood what we were going through and came out on the other side. Phew!
2. We live in a broken world.
God created our marriage for oneness, but we face external threats, including people choosing their own way over God’s purpose for human flourishing. We confront lies from the enemy, lies from our flesh, and lies from the world.
3. Our spouse isn’t our enemy!
I realized how I was unfairly putting my husband in the wrong when I was the one who needed to ask for forgiveness and apologize. Our situation was out of our control, and I needed to free my husband from my attitude.
4. Women and men view sex differently.
Understanding that men are more physically driven and desire closeness after sex, while women are more emotionally driven and want to feel closer before sex, has allowed me to understand my spouse better.
5. Marriage is a mission.
In order to grow together, we need to spend time with others heading in the same direction. We also grow by guiding others in the right direction who need help.
Building a solid foundation for our marriage begins with trusting in Jesus first and allowing His Holy Spirit to guide us in the right direction. It doesn’t come from the flood of other people’s opinions or comparisons to friends on social media.
Applying what we’ve learned
A weekend spent reflecting on our relationship and setting goals for the future gave us the strength and motivation necessary to pursue a long-lasting marriage. Recognizing the need to work on our communication habits, we formed a plan for accountability with others. Attending a small group with other married couples has provided a platform to discuss marriage struggles, bringing us closer together, creating a space where we can be vulnerable and acknowledge we aren’t alone in our experiences.
As I write this, I chuckle at the realization that many of the arguments my husband and I have are similar to those experienced by others. He seeks facts and solutions, while I long to share my feelings and desire him to listen. Understanding our differing communication styles has allowed me to extend more grace during disagreements.
Understanding communication is a skill that develops over time, and we’ve made it a priority moving forward. I set a goal of holding back from defending myself after each argument and giving my husband permission to call me out if necessary. My husband is learning to empathize with my feelings and put himself in my shoes. When it’s difficult, he asks clarifying questions and may take some time alone to process.
Growing together may look different for you. It may be reading the Bible together every other day, getting aligned with finances, or even sharpening the skill of offering apologies more frequently. Genuine growth takes time and requires patience, dedication, and a steadfast commitment to grow together.
Nurturing a lasting connection
While our uncertainty about the future persists, a fresh perspective has emerged. We feel closer than we did at the beginning of our marriage, and our communication has strengthened. Each passing day deepens our understanding of one another.
With the unavoidable rush of life and the unexpected events of military life, we recognize marriage will only become more challenging with time. However, we firmly believe God has a beautiful plan for our oneness. Armed with the Word and a supportive community, we are determined to combat the threats of the world, the enemy, and our flesh.
I encourage you to remember you are not alone in the brokenness and hardships that marriage can bring. I pray for your heart to soften, enabling you to see the beauty marriage inherently holds and for God to heal the wounds within your soul. May you grow together, knowing your marriage is not too far gone.
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Lindsea Castor is an author, content creator, military wife, and adventure seeker. Originally from Colorado, she currently resides in Texas with her husband. Lindsea is passionate about sharing the love of Jesus with women and refugees. One of her dreams is to pursue documentary filmmaking, with the hope of spreading the gospel across borders and reaching the unreached.
For those who know her best, Lindsea is a travel addict who is typically found outdoors in nature or in the cozy corners of a coffee shop. Catch more of her thoughts at Lindseacastor.com.