Spouses share hope for your military marriage

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Click on the links below to read these stories of encouragement by military spouses:
Cultivating the smart military marriage
How we saved/strengthened our marriage
Ten ways to help a friend's struggling marriage
Wives on Prayer group

I hope that as you read these stories you will be encouraged and find hope for your marriage.

Cultivating the Smart Military Marriage

Feed the Passion - Cultivating the Smart Military Marriage
“Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die” is a refrain in an old gospel song.  Reworked into marriage language, one could say, “Everybody wants a great marriage, but few want to put in the time and energy required for greatness.”

If we were to place ten random couples in a line-up and assign a different one-to-five word description to each marriage, what would the phrases read?
  • Closed for lack of interest
  • Moderately Satisfying
  • No Way to Go But Up
  • Looking for Greener Grass
  • No Comment

Would the following descriptors fit your marriage?
  • Fanning the Flames with Hope
  • Captured and Captivated
  • Going the Distance Victoriously
  • Stuck and Happy or (Getting This Right)
  • Thriving not just Surviving

The distance between the first set of marriage descriptors and the second set is large enough to engulf the millions of failed and failing marriages.  Spiritually Smart Families want to narrow the gulf for military couples.  Spiritually Smart Spouses and Spiritually Smart Couples conferences and retreats emphasize three essentials to combating the pressure placed on military marriages.

Stay Alert.  Fatigue and inattention are predators to marriages that want to go the distance victoriously.  “I will stand at my watch post and station myself on the rampart,” says the prophet Habakkuk.   “I will keep watch to see what he will say to me.”   Spiritually smart military men and women keep the main things central in their thoughts and actions.  They guard against seemingly small things (little sleep, poor eating habits, lack of physical exercise) and against the giants (complacency, low expectations, and marginal marriage field surveillance).  The slump of taking each other for granted, lack of courtesy and generosity, and pushing each other’s buttons is not good practice for smart couples who know what they want.  Beat the slump by going before the Lord daily and by listening to what he will speak concerning your marriage.  This idea of being on alert is not new to our service families, but we haven’t been challenged to see our marriages and families as the encampment that must be guarded and protected even if it requires that we lay down our lives.

Stay Engaged.  In a society that esteems multi-tasking to the exclusion of excellence and passion, it is important for military couples to keep a tight focus on their mission.  When our teenagers would say, “Why do you always side with dad (mom)?”  Our response would be that we would still be together long after they had left home and were starting their own families.  Our priority was each other.  Our desire was to have interests and passion in common, so we kept pace with each other intellectually, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  Study your partner again the way you did at the start.  What are his or her likes, dislikes, passions, fears, happiest moments and more?  When deployment or other separations occur, be aware of pitfalls and temptations.  Devise a plan to protect his or her heart while apart.  A talented few can do numerous tasks with excellence, but if you can’t, then discuss ways to focus on the key aspects of your military marriage and pour yourself into doing them well.  

Cultivate the Hunger.   As a military member or spouse, what do you hunger for?  Will what you hunger for bring you and your spouse through the next deployment?  Will what you hunger for bring you elusive peace?   How do you desire to respond to daily trials - the unexpected events that pelt us like beads of hail slamming a car’s windshield?

It has been said that most of what we worry about never occurs.  Would it not be great to forego anxiety over the unknown and to have comfort and peace regardless of events?  Life is full of unwanted events.  Our military members and families daily face uncertainties – the uncertainties of yet another deployment, the consequences of a spouse or loved one not returning from deployment or returning maimed.  

Consider this antidote for fear of the unknown: Plan for victory over every foe and in every situation.   Someone has queried, “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”  Get hungry for success in marriage.  Start to articulate your desire for your marriage to be mutually satisfying and beneficial to all who witness it.  Begin to consider what would happen if you pulled out all the stops and really gave yourself to your spouse – not holding back due to fears, inadequacies, past failures, big challenges of today, or concern for what others say.  “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain.”  Paul challenged the Corinthians to leave everything on the field as they worked to honor the Lord.  Likewise, our call is to hold nothing back in pursuit of great marriages.

For practical steps to develop your own spiritually smart family, plan to host or attend a Spiritually Smart Spouses or Spiritually Smart Couples conference at your installation or church.  A Spiritually Smart Family conference distinctive is its emphasis on deployment issues from a spiritual perspective with personal and marital transformation as the end goal.  These conferences and retreats complement the Services’ offerings to help units fully prepare for deployment and reintegration.

To schedule a Spouses Only or Couples’ conference, check us out at www.ocfusa.org, e-mail us at [email protected].  

Colonel Larry (and Bobbie) Simpson, USAF (Ret) is the Family Outreach and Puget Sound Field Representative for Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF).  He and his wife are part of the speaking/facilitation team for Spiritually Smart Family (SSF) Conferences.  They and their speaking teams are available to present SSF conferences at military installations and churches worldwide.   
Bobbie Simpson
Used with permission from Command Magazine, January 2009

How we saved/strengthened our marriage

  • Commitment: making a decision to not quit no matter how hard it seems

  • Attend a Strong Bonds event: If your chaplain isn't offering them then bug the H.E.** out of him and command to do it! I've learned skills and encouragement through these events that really work (so much so, that I became an instructor!)

  • Read Love & Respect: "The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs" by Emerson Eggerichs

  • Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Neither of you got married to make the other person miserable, nor do you wake thinking, "What can I do to really tick them off today?"
Michelle H.
Military spouse

Ten ways to help a friend's struggling marriage

Focus on the Family
It's common to know someone whose marriage is in trouble and to be unsure how to help. These 10 practical tips will help you get started helping others.


Deployment - "Wanting the truth...no more lies"
As I sit here to write about our deployment experience, I am amazed at how wonderful God really is. Erik was at the Sergeant’s Major Academy when he expressed an interest to volunteer for a deployment.  I was not really crazy about the idea so I wanted to find out what he was thinking.  We had a deep discussion and were able to work out our concerns.  I told him if the opportunity was there, I would not stop him from taking it. Well God really worked things out in many ways when I reflect back on the events.

I have to admit I was not thrilled while going through the trial.  Erik ended up deploying with a unit out of Hawaii.  He left in May, shortly after we arrived at Fort Knox.  It was a blessing to have him available to help move the big items in – the boxes were left to the kids and I. He arrived in Hawaii to find out they were not leaving for Kuwait until August. The 12-month deployment then turned into a 15-month deployment.  We would talk just about every night and I thought all was well.

Then I discovered a phone number on his cell bill that I did not recognize.  The Holy Spirit prompted me to check it out and sure enough, the number was someone he was supposed to have stopped talking to.  I felt the relationship he had was inappropriate and had told him to stop talking.  I was mad but glad that he was not physically with me to discuss it.  Crying I typed an email wanting the truth – no more lies.  Waiting for the phone call from Kuwait was hard and the first few conversations were even harder.  God knows what He is doing and I know was with me through it all.

I do not like confronting people but I discovered that that has been a problem in our marriage. The Bible is right when it says, “the truth shall set you free”.  After putting fear aside, we were able to discuss the “root” of our problem.  Roots go very deep and our roots stemmed from our childhood.  We were making great progress and then it was time for him to come home for R&R.  I was not excited to see him after the pain and distrust.  His plane arrived later than scheduled by a few hours but I think it was a good thing.  We did not say much on the ride home.  Once we were able to talk openly with each other, I felt much better.  We saw a Chaplain a couple times to make sure we were on the right track and we purchased some study materials from a seminar we had gone through several times before.  We knew this just was not Erik’s problem – it was our problem and we would have to both work on changing.

While what we went through was not pleasant, God worked out the circumstances for our good.  I have become a stronger person having to confront my husband asking for the truth.  Our relationship is stronger and we communicate more often and more effectively than we did before.  Erik’s time away from us in harms way allowed him to reflect on what the kids and I really meant to him.  We have forgiven each other and God has restored Erik.  God really did an amazing work in Erik and I think if we had been together, that may not have happened.  God knew to work on our marriage we would have to be separate for a time.  I was able to work on changing me and he was able to work on changing him.  He ended up serving 13 ½ months in Kuwait and came home just after the New Year (20 months away from home).  The kids and I were able to take the Christmas break to fly to Hawaii and bring him home.  The army was gracious enough to put Erik on our flight home with us.

Whatever trial you may be facing, know that God will see you through when you seek Him.  My relationship with God has deepened and strengthened along with my husbands.  We have discovered that as long as we put God first, our marriage is safe.  We are quicker in recognizing the warning signs of “potential trouble” before it goes too far now.  Satan had used “fear” in the past in our marriage to keep us from telling each other how we really felt about an issue.  Now that “fear” is gone and we are able to discuss any topic in love.  We are happier now and look forward to helping other couples.  God allows us to go through trials in our lifetime to help others in need – sometimes they are extremely hard but God always manages to turn a bad situation into something good.
Lisa S.
Military spouse

Wives in Prayer Group

Wives in Prayer
Wives in Prayer is a group similar to the group Mom’s In Touch that prays for children and schools, except our focus is specifically on our husbands. We praise God through Scripture for a specific attribute each week.  We pray scripture interceding for our husbands for a specific topic each week and then we open it up for specific prayer needs of our husbands.

Over the years I’ve led this group, I’ve seen marriages affected by adultery reunited and recommitted. I’ve seen men addicted to pornography win that battle. I’ve seen husbands that hated God find salvation and follow God’s call to pastor. I’ve witnessed many miracles from the obedience of prayer that this group inspires. For myself praying God’s word over my husband has transformed my heart and helped me to believe God is in control and to humble myself before him and allow him to take control. I can’t begin to describe the peace this has brought to my life. Seeing things through God’s eyes has demolished conflict in our marriage.

For more information regarding Wives in Prayer (including the founder's personal story) and to learn you you can start your own group, click here.
Wendy B.
Military spouse
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