Military life is tough on marriages. It’s not a secret, and it’s not newsworthy. The grind of constant moves, the continual uprooting and re-rooting, the constant upheaval of lives and friendships, the ‘great unknowns’ of servicemembers’ and spouses’ careers…oh, there are plenty of ways military life can sully your marriage. Resentment builds, conversations become stilted, romance fades…yes, military marriages are much like normal marriages, that is, if normal marriages were placed in that Swiss Supercollider.
I am here to tell you how to fully maximize the military life’s ability to crush the joy of marriage, the pleasures of family life, and the heath of your relationships.
1) Go Ostrich. Everyone knows that problems go away when you bury your head in the sand. Do your level best to ignore warning signs of a potentially troubled relationship. Every marriage has potential problems, whether it be communication issues, an imbalance in priorities, or verbal, physical or substance abuse. Take my word for it: ignore those cracks in the dam, and pretend they don’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind. Everyone knows that ignoring problems, or pretending they don’t exist, is a surefire way to make those problems evaporate. Another time-tested technique is to sweep marital problems under the rug. Allow other elements of your life to act as a diversion or distraction. Zits and blemishes simply go away by putting make-up over them, right? Apply this same technique when dealing with potential marital hazards.
No military member wants to have those Dr. Phil sit-downs and share his or her feelings or opinions. They’re often forced and contrived, and put one or both parties on the defensive. Tensions rise, and words become heated. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to air out problems. Your home’s heating and air-conditioning unit is pain enough. Do your level best to avoid ‘ventilating’ potential problems. Then, sit back and wait. Soon enough, those problems will simmer in the pressure-cooker long enough to create a massive and highly destructive explosion. Few marriages can survive such a destructive assault.
If you want the military to destroy your marriage, follow these simple rules: shut down communication with your spouse, avoid dealing with issues far out on the horizon, and ignore warning signs that might spring others into action.
2) Let Someone Else Do It. The military will take care of everything. The only finger you have to lift is the one that changes the channel while you luxuriate in your own encased cocoon. From moving to transferring records to changing jobs, allow someone else on-post to do the heavy lifting. That’s what they get paid to do. Presume that everyone in your post’s directory is there, not just to help you, but to lift every imaginable burden from your shoulders. They have your best interests at heart. They are there 24/7, never take lunches or leave, and are easily accessible any time, day or night. Everyone on post is, by default, your personal assistant, ready and willing to make your life as simple, straightforward and stress-free as possible. If you were to adopt this attitude, it would be nearly impossible for your marriage survive. Because it absolutely is not true. By not being accountable for your own concerns, hysteria and angry fireworks with soon ensue.
If you want the military to destroy your marriage, follow these simple rules: never ask questions of on-post personnel, never take initiative in addressing issues in your own sphere of concerns, and never, ever think that you must do about 90% of the legwork in just about every facet of your military life. All of this will soon blow up in your face. Taking the resulting backlash out on your spouse will act like a marital dagger.
3) Become an Introverted Shut-In. Everyone else on post is an idiot. Or they're probably out to get you. They surely don’t know what it’s like to have to deal with ‘your’ life issues. They don’t know the struggles you’ve been through, and they’ve never experienced the same hassles of military life. Or perhaps they’re just manipulating power-trippers who get off on gossip and innuendo. Also, everyone on post is surely not as cultured, hip or sophisticated as you are. Treat them accordingly. Never reach out to your neighbors and never join in on any formal or informal activities of any kind. They’re just a waste of time. You’re going to be moving again in a short while. Why expend your treasured emotional capital on people you don’t know or want to know? They’re not like you, they have none of the same concerns, and they are terribly unhelpful when it comes to suggestions or tips for making your military life more enjoyable. They make act all social and pleasant, they might seem like they’re having a wonderful time at a kids’ playgroup and it may appear like they’re enjoying their conversation at the commissary. But trust me, they’re not. And they’re not worth your time or energy.
By adopting this attitude, you will create your own solitary confinement. Your thoughts will become scrambled, and your spirit will get sideways in a hurry. By creating your own little life lock-box, by pulling down the shades on possible sources of sunshine, you will, sooner or later, become an unloving and unlovable wretch.
If you want the military to destroy your marriage, follow these simple rules: don’t socialize. Be abrupt and dismissive with everyone you meet. Don’t get to know your neighbors, and don’t trust anyone with your own concerns or issues. Doing this will allow your head to rot from the inside out and will allow the worst elements of your personality to have free reign over your marriage. Watch the separations and divorces ensue!