Monday, September 1, 2014

Some Personal Thoughts: Marriage - Relationships - Monogamy

In honor of our 18th Wedding Anniversary, I decided to update and post an entry from my former blog that I wrote several years ago.

There are a number of stereotypes affiliated with Active Duty military and their spouses and based on my observations over the past 18 years, I can honestly say there is a valid reason for those stereotypes to exist. Consequently, there was been more than one occasion that I had to make it very clear to someone that I was NOT a stereotypical Navy Wife.

I've been asked before what makes a lasting marriage work and I've thought about it whenever I hear of anyone having their own relationship problems. Since there have been volumes written on the subject for decades and decades I won't bother trying to sound like an expert here. But in simple, one journal entry terms, based on my own experience and observations, I think I can put it in a nutshell with 3 words: LOVE, TRUST, and COMMUNICATION. Think of these together as the "tripod" of any relationship.  No 2 of these can stand erect without the 3rd. (2017 addition)

These 3 things are different but equally important aspects of any good relationship and must be the foundation for the rest of the relationship to be built on. If even one of these aspects is missing or weak, its unlikely that the other two will be able to support the relationship on their own. I'm sure at this point many are thinking things like "what about respect, similar personality, things in common, etc" these of course are also important, especially respect. In my opinion these often are linked to the basic 3 so they are understood as being there already.

LOVE (Starting with the most obvious)
Of course Love is what usually gets all this started. Most people have a pretty good idea what this is all about so I won't waste time saying to much.

It is amazing how often I am talking to someone, or overhearing someone talk, about problems with their relationship and it comes out that all the issues they have with their partner they are talking about to everyone else BUT their partner. Contrary to apparent popular belief, a serious relationship does not cause a sudden onset of telepathy. If they don't know its broken, they can't fix it. In other words, if your significant other has done something that bothers you, unless they've done it on purpose, they can't make everything better if they don't know there is a problem to begin with. Stewing on an issue and waiting for it to fix itself will only cause a bigger issue to be created. If more happens and nothing is ever at least discussed to avoid further problems, then comes the wedge and invariably the end. Talk to each other. (And I do mean TALK not SCREAM) Listen to each other. Be willing to compromise. It may not be fun, it will probably be very uncomfortable at the least, but it can be the difference between a long lasting relationship and a really bad break-up with a potential soul mate.

This subject still gets me. I am absolutely floored how many couples I've encountered who swear up and down they are in a fabulous relationship but will go ballistic if their partner even appears to look at someone else. If you are that insecure with your relationship, you shouldn't be in the relationship. If you have been in a previous relationship that your trust was betrayed, its understandable that you would be wary. To that end, if you've decided to commit to a new partner who has never done anything to make you not trust them, then you should trust them. If you can't, then you aren't ready to be in a new relationship yet. If you have a partner who won't trust you when there is no reason not to, you shouldn't be in the relationship. I've seen it over and over again, and it seems to be the fastest cause for things to go wrong.

People screw up, sometimes in a small way, sometimes spectacularly. Some mistakes can not be forgiven. Most can be IF the work is put in on both sides. I have the good fortune to be in a relationship that has never had to be deal with a major screw up. Like most, we've had our share of miscommunication problems, all of which we have managed to work out by discussing them. Or emailing, if we happen to be in different time zones at the time. Technology is wonderful. I also have the good fortune to be completely secure in my knowledge that I don't have to worry about what my husband may be doing when he's away from me, just as he is equally secure in what I do and don't do. So, since that is the case, we have fun being open with each other. If I see a cute female I know is about his type, I'll point her out. When he goes out, its often with single co-workers to places that are considered to be "target rich" environments. So what? We went through 7, six month separations in the 17.5 years he was active military, as well as numerous shorter versions that are too many to count and have never had a problem.

The first of these deployments began 7 months after we got married. Deployments include him going to foreign ports where entertainment of EVERY kind is so cheap its practically free. I knew this from the start. I also knew that when you are in a new place, have been working long hours and need to decompress, really stupid ideas can seem like really smart ideas when you are drunk on the local brew and all your companions are single and getting laid. So, I took the liberty of laying some ground rules for possible infractions.

1. Don't fall for anyone
2. Don't let anyone fall for you
3. Don't get anyone pregnant
4. Don't CATCH anything
5. Most importantly, tell me about it.

The last one may have many people raising eyebrows. I'm sorry to disappoint, but contrary to some more creative rumors we've had spread about us over the years, I'm not that kinky. I want to know about anything that happens because I don't want to be one of those wives who are the only ones who DON'T know. I can't say I won't be upset that something happened. I probably will be to some extent or another, but I guarantee, that will be nothing compared to how upset I'll be if I find out I'm the last to know. This may not work for everyone, but, I am a strong believer that the tighter you hold onto someone, the more you will probably push them away. Give each other room to breath you lessen the chance that you'll be driven to make mistakes. Also then, the mistakes you do make will be more easily fixable and forgivable.

Married 18 years
Husband's was Active Duty Military 17.5 years
Together 21 years
41 years old
Sexual intercourse with only 1 person my entire life. He's the first and only.

Go figure, we must be doing something right.

(2017 update - 21 years married and still going!)

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