Building a Strong Marriage: Happiness Isn’t the Goal in Marriage


When the wedding is over, and the guests go home, married-life starts.

Many of my friends, including myself, are or were military wives. We know homecomings, military balls, ceremonies, and mandatory fun events are not the whole of our marriage. These happy times are mixed in with the, well, the not so happy.  
At times it’s easy to love our spouse, and even a wonderful experience to do so, but other times…after kids, juggling schedules, dinner fails, a 60+ hour work week, pay cuts, hurtful words spoken intentional or unintentional, conflict of interests…well, sometimes things like that can make marriage a challenge. 
But that’s ok. We want to build and strengthen something worth fighting for, something worth our time and energy, even if it’s a challenge. Marriage is worth that challenge. Anything God ordains is worth that challenge.
One of the ways we begin to strengthen our marriage is by shifting the focus off of our happiness. Yes, happiness is great and all, but if it’s at the expense of someone else’s happiness, is it even true happiness? Wow, that just got philosophical! 
I argue that a self-seeking pursuit of happiness is not happiness at all, but selfishness. Yes, we have needs, even wants, but by transferring our focus to our spouse and their happiness…well, something close to magic happens…we find happiness—actually, contentment, which is FAR GREATER than happiness. It’s deeper, heartier, full of substance and value, whereas happiness changes on a whim, based on our current situation.
If happiness isn’t the goal of marriage, what is?

That’s a whole other blogpost my friends, but to sum it up, a purpose, but most definitely not the sole purpose of marriage, is to make us into better people as we serve each other in love, putting the other before ourselves. 

How do we do this? How do we stop focusing on happiness as our sole goal in marriage?
   
         1) Think about your spouse. Write down the things they enjoy. What are their goals? What makes them feel loved? Perhaps ask them these things in order to find out, or observe them more often.
Keep this list, and work to meet those goals and do those things that make your spouse feel loved. I HIGHLY recommend learning your spouse’s love language. Check out The 5 Love Languages, and The 5 Love Language: Military Edition.
    
      2) Pray for your spouse. Make a list of things to pray about for them. Here are some suggestions to get started:

  • Pray for their relationship with God to continue to grow.
  • Pray that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control overflow in and out of their lives. 
  •  Pray for wisdom in the decisions they have to make at work and in the family.
  • Pray for them to get the rest they need at night so they are able to get through the work week.
  • Pray for their self-image—that they would see themselves the way God sees them.
  • Pray for their spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical protection.

Remember, happiness is great, but there’s so much more to marriage that’s worth our time in pursuing–like each other. 

Celebrating Ten Years of Marriage: Now & Then

Happy Anniversary Stephen Conway. I’d marry you all over

June 28, 2003

again.

This wasn’t how I thought we’d spend our ten year anniversary. Overseas, somewhere tropical, is what I had  in mind. Guess I should have been more specific, lol. You’re overseas, probably closer to a beach than I am. 
But soon you’ll be home and we will celebrate. I’m thinking we should look through photo albums, laugh at all our funny memories. Maybe slow dance in the kitchen. Promise to spin me? 🙂 
You know what I love? I love knowing that I have ten years of memories with you! You know what else I love? Knowing we’ve only grown closer through all the battles we’ve been through. 
Basic Training Graduation 2003
Remember when…
I was to terrified to stay with you when you joined the Army, so I broke up with you…like three times? You always pursued me, literally chased me down, haha. You helped me keep faith in you, in us, in God. You kept telling me that all things were possible with God, even Army life. 🙂

Remember when…
It was my turn to tell you with God all things were possible?

Remember when…
Summer 2003
You told me we’d get married after Basic Training, after you had two years or so in the Army, and could support a family, but you couldn’t stand being away from me so you proposed over the phone, and I married you a week after Basic graduation? Our families freaked! Haha. 🙂

First Summer We Dated 2001
Remember our First Christmas together as a married couple?
You were stationed in Korea. I was still in college saving every penny I earned waitressing at Mark’s Feed Store so I could visit you over Christmas break. We spent Christmas Day cuddled in bed watching movies. Korea was so cold!
Remember when…
We used to wonder what our children would look like? How many we would have? What we would name them?  I wanted 12 kids, you wanted 4, so we settled for 2! lol 🙂  Aren’t our children the most amazing creations ever? 🙂 
Remember when…
March 2005
You held our son for the first time. You were in Iraq, trying to make it home in time…when you came in the hospital room, you still had sand on your boots. I remember being so happy to see your face.
Remember when…
We made it to our first duty station in Colorado. Our first official time away from home…essentially still newlyweds, with a new baby. We had no clue what we were doing, but we made it, and by the grace of God, so did our son! Remember how we called him our little guinea pig? Haha. 🙂 
Remember when…
We fought all the time? You were always the first to say you were sorry, even if it was my fault. You never could stay mad long…me, well…I’m more stubborn. Sorry. I’m better, right? The best part about fighting was making up. Yeah. Make ups were the best. Wink. 
Oct. 2010 
Remember when…
I cried when Baby #2 was going to be born in Indiana, and not Kentucky like the rest of us? And I seriously considered driving to Kentucky when I went into labor? Haha. 🙂 I used to pray our children had southern accents…I still pray that, lol.
Remember when…
You held me before you left for this last deployment. We were standing in the bathroom, in front of the sink. I was trying to keep it together, hoping you wouldn’t come in seeing me struggling with my emotions, but you did.  I cried. I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to see me crying. I’ll never forget what you did. You reached out and pulled me tight against your chest, and held me. You let me cry, even though you were the one leaving for war.  Remember what you told me? You told me it was going to be okay, and you know what? You were right. You’re coming home soon, and it’s all going to be okay.
I love remembering. All the hugs, fights, kisses, tears, laughs–yeah I love remembering them all. You and I…well, we’ve kind of grown up together. We’ve been by each other’s side for ten years, through it all, conquering one mountain at a time. You really are my best friend. Ten years isn’t enough time with you. I’m glad we have the rest of our lives. 
US
Ten Years in the Making.

I’ll see you soon sweetheart. Happy Anniversary baby. 

It’s A Love Story Baby: Military Proposals

When Your Man Put A Ring On It! That’s right my friends, we’re sharing military love stories & proposals!

Though I prefer the TBS version, An Officer and a Gentleman (SWOON) quite frankly could have the best movie ending–EVER! Don’t believe me? Watch my friends. Watch and swoon with me.

What could be more romantic than being carried by a man in uniform? That’s right my dear readers, not many things. Hollywood writes about romance, even acts it out with a bunch overpaid pretenders. But true love stories are all around us. Today I want to introduce you to several Army Wives, and let them tell you their ultra awesome love stories and sweet proposals, that put Hollywood’s finest attempts of love and romance to shame. Get ready for some major swooning!

“Shaun and I met through a mutual friend 17 years ago. It was a only a phone call at 1st. He had a very appealing voice and our conversation was great. Through many phone calls and learning how much we had in common, we decided to meet. We have been together ever since. He proposed when I went to visit him in Ft. Sill, OK after his AIT in 1997. We got married May 2001 (long engagement, I know  ) and he didn’t go active duty until 2003. My name is Laura and we are currently stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC”


“David and I met in 11 years ago. He was helping my roommate move in. David was really funny and not shy at all. I love about him. We had been together for 3 years when he proposed. He wanted to join the army and didntwant to leave without me, so he asked me to go. We have been married for 8 years and are currently in Fort Jackson, SC.” ~Jenn



“Chuck and I went to school together but met through my brother. There was lots that attracted me to him: his personality, humor, and looks. He proposed to me October 7, 2005 on our couch after I said Yes. When he proposed, I wanted him to do more than show me a ring. That’s when he popped open the ring case and said “I’ll love you forever, will you marry me?” We got married December 31st , 2005. We’ve been in the Army 8 years.”
~Megan, Fort Carson Colorado and on our way to Fort Belvoir, VA.



Matt and I met in Augusta, GA at Chili’s while he was going through AIT at Ft. Gordon. I knew he was THE ONE when he went with me to meet my father at the nursing home where my Grandmother was. He spent a whole Sunday afternoon here and at that point we had only known each other a few weeks. Also he was kind of cute! We met in July 2004. At Christmas, he was going home, Maine, before coming here (Ft Campbell) for his first duty station. He wanted me to meet his family, so I flew solo for the first time in my life to spend Christmas with his family. He wasn’t flying up until a couple of days later by the way. He proposed on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t really a surprise since I helped him pick out a ring, but as soon as Christmas was over he was headed to Ft Campbell and I was headed back to GA. He put the ring on my pillow before I went to bed. When it was time for bed I saw the ring and he came in and popped the question! We got married on May 28, 2005 and by the time you post this will have celebrated our 8 year anniversary! Although I guess you can’t really celebrate it if he’s not here ”    
                 ~Jenny

“[Kris and I] met through an old high school friend who was in RIP together with my husband. I knew the minute I met him and shook his hand he was “the one”! He was cute, funny, kind and smart. (I would later find out that he had the same exact thought the minute he shook my hand too! Kismet!) He proposed 7 months after we met, in New Orleans. It was kind of a meeting point and special place for us while he lived in Georgia and I was in Louisiana. He spent the day asking where my favorite places were in the city and when I brought him to my favorite spot, he got down on his knee and proposed. He is going on 10 years now in the army, while we have been married for 8.”  ~Katie, Fort Benning, GA



“My husband and I were set up on a date by his brother’s girlfriend during his 2-week R&R from Iraq. The first thing that attracted me to him was his soft, kind eyes. They made me melt! During our first-date dinner conversation, I became attracted to his odd sense of humor that’s just like mine, as well as his intelligence and clear sense of integrity. My husband proposed at the same restaurant where we went on our first date. Of course, this was on the last evening of his pre-deployment leave before another year in the desert. Andrew has been in the Army for 11 years, and I just separated from 6 years in the AF last November, so the first 3 1/2 years of our relationship (and one year of marriage) were long distance.”  ~Heidi & Andrew, Ft Meade, MD
I would love to hear from you! Share your love story, and or proposal with us!

Pornography Wreaking Havoc on Marriage

Shhhh. We don’t talk about that.
Well today, we are.

Pornography. It’s a dirty little secret that no one admits to viewing, but the industry is booming. Someone’s looking.

Every second over $3000 is being spent on pornography. Do you know what I could do with $3000? A LOT!  Every second over 28,000 viewing it and every 39 seconds a pornographic video is being created in the US. Good grief, that’s insane!
It’s no secret that the divorce rate is right at 50%. One of the biggest reasons for divorce, under adultery, and financial problems, is addictions; the most common of which are alcohol and pornography. Pornography is literally killing our marriages.
Let me get real honest with my married women readers, especially my Military Wife readers. It is NOT okay for you or your husband to be viewing pornography, nor is it okay for you to send your husband pornography while he is deployed, overseas, on a business trip etc.
                                                                           View my thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey.
I’ve heard women tell me, “Well, at least he’s not cheating.” Um, how is he NOT cheating?  If your spouse is getting sexual gratification from someone other than you, it’s cheating.
I’ve heard women say, “Well, he’s deployed. It’s difficult for him to go without sex that long. I can’t expect him not to look when pornography is everywhere.” Why is ‘not looking’ such a high expectation for your husband? Yes, it has to be difficult for our husbands to go without sex for that long. It’s no joy ride on our end either. However, to keep our marriage strong, and to protect our spouse from spiraling out of control, because pornography isn’t an innocent little problem, refraining from pornography doesn’t seem too much to ask.
Why not solve his dilemma by sending photos of yourself . Yes, I totally said that. No matter how awful you think you look naked, your husband loves you, and your body. Just want to clarify–do not send pictures via a military email address. Just needed to cover that. 🙂

Take pictures. He’ll thank you.

                 Interested in having “special” photos taken for your husband? Visit www.hannahpadgett.smugmug.com.
Study after study proves the negative effects of viewing pornography. It’s said to be a stronger addiction than cocaine. It diminishes real sex, and replaces it with some warped version of  what God meant it to be between a husband and wife. Viewers have reported devaluing their spouse  after looking at pornography. Because who of us can compete with some young chick with a photo-shopped image? It also desensitizes the viewer to sex to the point where he/she can become bored with their spouse, sex in general, and seek more graphic images in order to get that thrill they are looking for. Can we say, “Hello, Ted Bundy?” None of those things are beneficial for marriage, or mental health.  
Stay away from porn my friends. God says to “be holy, because I am holy (1 peter 1:16).” There is nothing holy about pornography.
References:

The Most Romantic Evening

I’m cozied up on the couch with my hubby. The kids are in bed, the lights are down low–an ideal setting for a romantic evening…meh, we’ll just sit here and watch the history channel–WWII is always interesting to learn about. 

I’m still all sweaty and gross from my time at the gym, so there is nothing really romantic about my appearance. Cycling is killer…it looked like I spilled my water bottle on the seat when I was through! I would so rather exercise on a hoveround, lol–if those things can drive you to the Grand Canyon (so says the infomercial), I’m sure it could burn a few calories…or maybe not. Stephen’s not looking so romantic-ish either, lol, holding his Mt. Dew can and fighting the urge to sleep. Geez, it’s 9pm and we are wiped out–parenthood & life do that to ya I guess.

Though this may not seem like a “typical” romantic evening, it has had its highly romantic elements:
* Stephen came home holding an Iced Chai Tea Soy Latte and a Cake Pop in his hand, just for ME, for absolutely NO REASON! It’s official–I have the most amazing husband ever! Not only did he surprise me, but he remembered my favorite Starbuck’s drink!!! I feel so loved!
*After supper, he Stephen got up and did the dishes!!!!!!!!! SOOOOO HIGHLY ROMANTIC! 
*When I came home from the gym, my wonderful husband had the kids in bed all tucked in and snug as a bug! 

A dozen roses, shiny jewelry, fine dining–MOVE OVER; nothing says Romance like thoughtful expressions of love.

First Kiss

Who remembers their first kiss? I’m not sure my first kiss counts. I was in the first grade, on a school bus, and the boy beside me leaned in, and then kissed my cheek. I punched him and blacked his eye–one of my finer moments, I confess. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I pack a pretty good punch–for a girl. 🙂 So that was my first kiss…though, like I said, I don’t think it counts.

There were other kisses, yes, but the one I’m thinking about is the first kiss my husband and I shared. I kind of had this moment of nostalgia the other day while sitting in the backyard at my mom and dad’s home watching my kids play in the playhouse my brother and I used to play in as children. This is the same backyard where my hubby and I first kissed. Watching my son and daughter laughing and running struck me as somewhat poetic…I was watching the product of our love in the spot where Stephen and I first fell in love. Isn’t that kind of beautiful? 🙂

I was 17…he was 18, about to leave for college and I was starting my senior year of high school. It was dark outside, nearing curfew and he would have to go home soon–I’m sure mom and dad were keeping an eye on the clock and on our location. 🙂 The stars were out and that’s where we were…sitting under them, making plans for our future…after college, after marriage…where we would travel, how many kids we would have, etc. He hadn’t dared to kiss me and we had been dating for several months, but this night–I guess the stars and the talk of our future made him bold. Our first kiss was sweet, perfect and under the stars. Does it get any more romantic than that?

So, I’m curious…where was your first kiss or at least the kiss that counts?