On most days it’s difficult to see a silver lining to the loneliness that comes with deployment. However, by God’s grace He has shown me what only in solitude I can understand. Here’s a list of five reasons why deployments strengthen a marriage that is centered on Christ.
1. I realize the smalls acts of service that would otherwise go unnoticed.
This is especially true of things that have become a habit. Shortly after Michael left, I pumped gas for only the second time since we have been married. I can honestly only remember having to do it one other time since March of last year. The same goes for taking out the trash and other chores that my sweet husband has taken upon himself to make his responsibility – not because I refuse to do them, but because he wants to be a servant leader in our home.
2. Deployments are good for my marriage because they drive me closer to Jesus.
That which is good for my soul is also good for my marriage because I act and react (women are reactive) out of the fullness of my heart instead of the emptiness. My first thought in the morning is Lord, I’m going to need a lot of you today. When I get in the car with Ezra (which means a guaranteed crying spell) I think the same thing. What’s better, by the grace of God I have been so good about staying in His word and praying almost continually- something I have struggled with my entire Christian life.
3. We are both more explicit in expressing our affection.
I don’t know about you, but I just love it when my hubby graces me with compliments. As a woman who relies on words of affirmation in lieu of quality time and physical touch (both tied as my primary love language), I need to hear that he loves and misses me thirty times per day, and it never gets old. He knew this already, but the distance has made him realize how true this is for me. Something tells me this has a lot to do with the fact that his primary love language is physical touch and he misses my back scratches. 😉 The distance also forces us to get creative in the ways in which we show our affections as some of these “languages” are impossible to be spoken (i.e. physical touch).
4. I am more convicted to “choose my battles” and quickly resolve conflict when I do have a bone to pick.
With the time difference, we usually have an hour, maybe two-hour window for live communication. A large chunk of that is divided between trying to FaceTime with Michael and bath, feed, and put the baby to sleep. Who wants to spend that time having an argument? So far during this deployment (though I have not been perfect), I have tried to put into practice something that our pastor preached about probably almost a year ago:
Sometimes love lets the little things go and chooses immediate forgiveness without even bringing up the offense.
I’m positive he did a much better job at wording that, but the message is the same and it’s something that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs discusses in his book Love & Respect.
Our marriage benefits when we give our spouse the benefit of the doubt. An argument can easily be avoided when we remember that those little habits that always bothered us and we no longer find cute are not intentional. My husband isn’t out to irritate me when he leaves his shorts on the floor next to the bed; instead he mostly likely has his mind on something else altogether.
5. Having to do it all on my own helps me to become more of that “P31” woman.
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain… She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong… Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” – Proverbs 31: 10-11, 17 & 25.
I was very encouraged to read the note on one card specifically from the deck of playing cards that Michael left for me, it reads: “I trust your judgement in my absence.” The fact that my leader, the head of our family trusts my judgement in his absence is a huge compliment and also a huge responsibility. I love even more the fact that in order to do this I must draw closer to God.
I believe that is the bottom line in all of this; deployments bring me closer to God, period. It brings me to the cross every morning that I may be clothed with grace, it reminds me to be thankful for God’s mercies which are renewed every morning. I pray that I will continually dwell on these truths on the hard days and sing to the Lord on the good days.