This August will see an inaugural celebration of the foundation of the community: military marriages.
Military couples are no stranger to adversity, often facing situations uncommon in the civilian lifestyle. On top of the usual challenges of lengthy separations, moves to isolated areas and demanding career expectations, 2020 tossed COVID-19 in the mix. It is among the reason why I felt compelled to set aside time to put our service members and their spouses front and center by marking August 14 as Military Marriage Day.
The year continues taking us all for a few loops, while grasping for some sort of normalcy. Honestly, most have just given up on 2020 altogether with sights set on 2021 for a fresh start. But before we throw in the towel, I formulated an idea to put a little spark in military marriages around the nation.
As unprecedented as this time in our history has been, it’s done us all a favor by shining the light on some really important areas in our lives. The pandemic rippled through country to country, which made us focus on staying healthy through extreme measures — even professional sports took a hit. Still, one lesson from it all is a proactive approach leads to prevention. And that had me thinking: If we can shut down entities as big as airports to focus on our well-being, then it should be a small task to take one day and focus on the wellness of our marriage.
COVID–19 also brought relationship issues to the surface. It amplified whatever state you were in. For example, if you were struggling in your marriage, the stay-home order required you to deal with those issues head on because there wasn’t anywhere to escape. In fact, the American Academy of Matrimonial Law predicts an increase in divorce filings due to the quarantine.
But the reality is COVID-19 can’t end marriages, people do. Partners have the opportunity to take steps to make their relationship better each day. Military Marriage Day is a chance to take a big step in building strong military marriages as this is a day for all couples.
Here are 5 ways to celebrate Military Marriage Day:
#WeAreStrongerTogether More than a hashtag, it’s a declaration of unity that we need one another. Military couples understand this better than most as they have a partner to rely on by their side or stateside that makes living their purpose a little easier. A date night is just another way to get some time together to strengthen that bond.
TIP: Get back to the basics. What brought you together in the first place? Maybe it’s a game night, movie marathon, ordering in your favorite food or playing up a running joke you two share. These are all starting points of a great date night. For more suggestions check out Moving with the Military’s Date Night Box giveaway.
Care package and cards
Everyone enjoys a little love mail. If your loved one is deployed or sitting in the other room, plan to send sweet treats and words of affirmation their way. You can theme your box around Military Marriage Day and personalize it to reflect your military marriage story.
TIP: It wouldn’t be a holiday without a card. Check out Westhouse’s Military Marriage Day card and fun gift items.
Sign up for a course or counseling
All marriages require work, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Marriage courses offer community and connection to other like-hearted couples. Installation chaplains and family support centers have offerings to consider, but don’t be afraid to look off installation for programs that are a good fit for you.
Counseling is another great option to lean on a licensed professional to work through thoughts, emotions and feelings.
Tip: Look into the Military Marriage Day course or search for a licensed clinician through the Lifegiver Directory.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your marriage is take care of yourself. Yup, I said it! I’m a firm believer that a marriage is better when the individuals in it are taken care of. Time to yourself is not always the main topic of conversation when discussing marriage, but it brings a great balance to the relationship.
Self-care may be alone time to meditate, a massage (that can also be done as a couple), time for reading or writing; there is no wrong answer here. The idea is that you both sent time to do something that grounds you, brings you joy or fulfillment, and it doesn’t have to be a shared experience.
Tip: Commit to self-care by building it into your plan. This may require a sitter or other considerations. Look at your calendars and see if there is a time you both can commit to taking some “you” time. Try to make the time equal, get understanding on what the other will do and commit to both accomplishing your self-care so that it is not one sided.
Watch the virtual celebration
We may not be able to party together yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate together. Tune into Military Marriage Day’s live celebration at 8 PM EST on August 14.