With Valentine's Day coming up, I've been reflecting on my marriage of almost two years. This is the first Valentine's Day that Ryan and I will have together. So of course, I am all kinds of excited to make it spectacular. However, I have learned from past experiences that sometimes I need to bring down my enthusiasm level to a rate that Ryan can understand. What makes this Valentine's Day a little more interesting is that we will be on the road, mid-move to Montana. So I've started putting together a few things for my valentine a little early. I'm sure you've seen this tutorial on Pinterest but it's so easy and I would love to share:
Ceramic mugs from the dollar store
Working oven, set to 350 degrees
Decorate your mug, put it in the oven for about a half hour and voila, you've got yourself an inexpensive Valentine's Day gift.
|"All of these words are worthless than the breath used to say them if we cannot be together."|
Cute and romantic, eh?
I'm not really sure what else to get Ryan and come to think about it, I think Ryan may be my first Valentine. I definitely remember a dating pattern of breaking up with boyfriends in October and getting boyfriends in March. Anyone else have dating patterns? I always thought it was weird but oddly enough, that's how it usually worked out.
Ryan loves to work out and doesn't really like junk food so I think the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates may not be his thing. Shopping for broskis is so difficult! Curse the expectations that come with VDay!
But this brings me to my next point.
If you read Destiny's guest blog post, it ties in so well to this topic of Pinterest perfect marriages.
When Ryan was deployed I created a ton of care packages for him and I did a "picture a day while you're away." It was my way of showing him that I cared and I missed him greatly (such an understatement, deployments own your brain). Creating and designing things is such a personal way of exploring my creative energy and I love to share it, whether it's on my blog or my Pinterest boards. It's also a major way of me showing people that I care. I would have so many people message me saying how inspired they were by the care packages and the pictures, it was both flattering and humbling. I'm afraid that I may have added to this Hollywood notion that military marriages are this fairytale. Homecomings are a dream come true and one of my most cherished moments, however, it's what happens post-homecoming that people don't really cover or understand.
I still consider myself a newlywed, and not in the "honeymoon" period, either. Ryan and I have our arguments and fights, just like any other married couple. It usually comes from the fact that we've spent most our marriage apart, either living in California versus Wisconsin or the continental US versus Afghanistan. Most recently we've lived in the same state (five hours apart), and just moved back in together when Ryan finally finished his Marine Corps contract. Every time that we've been together, part of our relationship has to start over again and rebuild. It takes a lot of communication and patience. Being in our early 20s, that doesn't always come easily or is readily available. Mix in a military lifestyle, you have constant moves, training, early days, late nights, etc. I try to make the most of our time together by scheduling breaks in the day, like lunch, where we can see each other and just talk or relax. In the morning, I'm focused on going to work and at night, I'm analyzing what happened that day and what I can improve on. I would say that communicating at night isn't my strongest quality. If I had a bad day, I need that time to decompress and then start communicating, otherwise Ryan can do the littlest thing and it can set me off. It's the same for him. I'm very much an advocate for personal time and working on "Me." Not as a selfish aspect, but more in terms of self care and make sure that I'm doing good and Ryan's doing good, respectively on our own. Together we're a united front and we can't have one end feeling upset, otherwise, we're not communicating as effectively as we could be.
My advice for being in a military marriage?
Patience, a positive attitude, effective communication, and resilience.
Things will always change and nothing is ever permanent. It is only permanent five hours after it happened. With that in mind, you have to have patience and good communication. Don't leave your spouse hanging, wondering what's going on or if they need to make dinner later or earlier. Sometimes it can be really stressful or just bring out the worst in you. You've got to overcome that because you need to work as a team. Ryan and I don't have any human children yet, just our Holly Bear. We've planned it that way so we can work on our marriage base first and build up from that. I tackle being in a military lifestyle with a positive attitude. It's a mixture of optimism and realism. Plans will always change, so have a back-up plan (in fact, have three) and keep a smile on your face. Make sure you have concrete ways to de-stress. When Ryan was deployed, sometimes I would feel so overwhelmed, I still sometimes feel that way with training. Blogging for me became a positive outlet on which I could focus on many other aspects of my life besides being in the military. Sometimes that little break, even if it's just a blog post, is so very necessary.
One way that I'm working on documenting our marriage-
I saw this really neat idea for people who are engaged, to keep a journal for your soon-to-be husband. I loved the idea and decided to keep a journal (I bought two for extra writing) for my husband throughout the year. I wanted to cover things we fought about, how we communicated, good things and events in our life. I think it may be a great way to reflect on our marriage at the end of the year.
I'm really excited about this and to include love letters on our second/third year of marriage. We have so many things to look forward to within the coming weeks and it will all be recorded. Wahooo for old school journaling.
oh and in case you don't follow me on Instagram, I got a haircut :)
Yay for new things!
Thanks for reading :)