This is a small selection from "The Treasure of Staying Connected." We hope you will find it enjoyable and enlightening.
Establishing ways to stay connected during deployments is more beneficial if done before the deployments. The time immediately preceding a deployment is usually very hectic, filled with preparations such as legal and financial affairs and car and home maintenance. This is all for the care and welfare of the family. What about the care of the relationship that is the core of the family? Dedicating time to decide how to best maintain a close couple and family relationship should be at the top of the “to do” list! Go on a date, and put the hubbub on hold for a couple of hours to focus on each other. It’s great if the deploying service member can do the same thing with each child, as well. Take time to choose together a daily routine, such as those that have been suggested, to utilize during the deployment.
When couples are able to develop a stronger sense of unity during deployments, they often begin to experience enlightened moments of awareness of each other’s presence. These can be awe-filled moments to revel in your couple connectedness. I was blessed with such a moment during the Bob’s only deployment that included the Christmas holidays. His ship was on a Mediterranean cruise, and pulled into Naples, Italy shortly before Christmas Day. A tour to Rome was arranged for those on the ship who were interested. The highlight of the tour was Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s, with the Pope presiding, and a couple thousand of his “closest friends” in attendance! Bob called to tell me this was going to take place. Wow! I thought that this was surely making lemonade out of lemons! I learned that the Mass would be rebroadcast in the U.S. at midnight local time. So, we stayed up, along with my in-laws, who had come to celebrate Christmas with the kids and me, and watched the beautiful ceremony on television, knowing that Bob was there among the throngs of people. We were aware that the event had taken place six hours before; but that did not diminish our sense of oneness with Bob. As far as we were concerned, we celebrated the birth of our Savior with him! Bob and the Infant Jesus were both unmistakably present to us!
We know other military couples who have strived for the same connectedness of which I have been writing throughout their years of service. I say, “their years of service,” because I believe that what is given in service by a military person is certainly given by the military couple. Some of those couples have shared stories about their efforts to strengthen their own couple connectedness. I share them with you now, with hope that they will not only warm your heart, but also provide you with more ideas about fostering your own connectedness.
A thread that runs through each of these personal accounts is that these couples were actively nurturing their relationships long before faced with separation. It’s a lot easier to foster intimacy when you’re apart if this is an ongoing quality in your relationship. This takes some effort by both partners. Many of our life’s treasures need polishing up every now and then. The treasure of our marriage relationships thrives on regular attention. We receive what we put into them. Good relationships don’t just happen! Your marriage will survive and be strengthened, like gold tested in fire, if you are already nurturing it!
I remember well the times of preparation, immediately preceding the deployments of Bob’s ships. Those were chaotic times of getting many different affairs in order. I doubt that has changed since our days of active duty. There’s so little time to fit in all that needs doing. But I urge you to make your love affair a priority! As I mentioned before, your marriage is meant to last long beyond active duty. So make some time to decide together what you will do to strengthen your connection. I offer you different ideas with the hope that one or two might work for you, or trigger your own idea. I would love to hear about your ideas, and invite you to share them with me on my website.
I also recommend that you go on a date before the separation. It need not be lengthy or costly, but it must be romantic! Your pleasure in each other’s company will give you an extra joyful moment to hold onto and add to your treasury of memories. If babysitting is an issue, trade off children with another couple. The world we live in today does not generally seem to place much value on marriage, but I am here to tell you that you, as a married couple, are so very important to the future of our world! Our Creator established society based on the family unit, and He placed husband and wife at the core of that family. Don’t shortchange your treasure. Please give it the time and attention it deserves! Not only will you benefit, but so will the world in which you live.