The “C” word. Eyes roll. A look of bewilderment. A sigh of exasperation. OR maybe, just maybe, a wink to say “we’ve got this covered”. Wherever you fall in the realm of communicating with your spouse (or not communicating) a little refresher might be what you need.
We all know there are ways to communicate that are good and then some that are better being left out of the equation. For most of us, communicating is a learned art in marriage with many bumps in the road over the years. We know we won’t always get it right, but we learn as we go and that is the beauty of marriage: two people walking through life helping, loving, growing, forgiving all the while communicating.
As a Military Spouse, communication styles are constantly evolving both in form and delivery.
One of the biggest lessons learned for me has been timing. Prior to my husband being in the Army, he was a Police Officer, which was an excellent way to build a foundation for productive communication as a Military Family.
We were young, newly married and he was a beat cop in a very busy area working nights and weekends-not ideal to a new, young bride to be spending nights and weekends alone. And also not an ideal schedule for a new, young husband either. You can already guess that we had our fair share of lessons learned (and quickly I might add as well). However, it was during this time that we truly learned the invaluable lesson of timing. Is 1:30 AM on a Wednesday after my husband just got home from a hard night and then has to get up at 6:30 AM for court the next day a good time to talk about the budget? I don’t think so. Is the topic important to me? Yes, of course. However, setting up a time in the very near future (when you have both had sleep) to talk about big or important topics serves both parties much better than jumping on someone as soon as they get home from work. The same goes both ways- my husband has learned that we both do better talking on decent sleep and possibly a good breakfast (or bottle of wine).
When you think about communication, maybe you think only in the context of “It’s your turn to take the trash out” or “Did you pay the mortgage?”. As exciting and sexy as those questions are there is more to communication than checking in on a to do list. And adding in more forms of communication might even mean you don’t have to ask about the to do list as you become more in sync.
Here are 4 Ways to Communicate with Your Military Spouse
1) The Written Word
In today’s culture, this can mean texting or emailing- both great forms of communication and sometimes the only options you have (especially during a deployment). But getting in the habit of writing handwritten notes or letters (is arguably more romantic), but can also convey someone is going the extra mile. My husband and I were recently cleaning out some files and came across all of the letters from Bootcamp we wrote. 4 months of absolutely no communication outside of letters— man, we wrote some good ones! Hopes, dreams, fears, hand drawn stick people laying on the beach, going to dinner and even one drawing of the dreams of how our family would grow. Reading these letters nearly five years later was like opening a treasure chest into our life and a pretty romantic way to spend a Sunday afternoon too.
One of my very favorite written forms of communication is the sticky note. Yes, the sticky note. When my husband leaves for several days or weeks for training or I have to travel for work, we each always find a way to sneak sticky notes strategically throughout the other person’s bag and also around the house. Coming across these silly notes while unpacking or while pulling milk out of the fridge lets the other person know they are loved and thought of despite the distance.
2) Physical Touch: (not just that kind)
Have you all taken the 5 Love Languages Test? Every time I take this test I go in so hopeful I am just ONE thing, but every time I pull an even score across at least 3 love languages. Is this helpful or more confusing to my husband? I have no idea and to be honest he doesn’t care much for those kind of quizzes any way so I am on my own I guess! I discovered though that I have a strong pull towards physical touch and I totally get it. I feel as though I developed it after years of being a Police Officer turned Army Solider wife. After days, weeks, months apart over the course of several years I started to recognize that just being near him is enough. I love to sit by him, hold his hand, walk close to him, cross ankles in bed and LOVE foot rubs, back scratches, etc. For me, this is also an excellent form of communication. When my husband is near me, I feel as though he wants to be near me, he misses me, heck, that he just likes me. (**I don’t think I need to explain that men like physical touch, but if I do feel free to email me from our contact page.)
3) Voice/Video Time:
I am combining this into a new phrase instead of “phone calls”. To the Military Spouses who aren’t living in the same location, hearing someone’s voice and seeing their face, even for a few moments can make the whole day, week or month better. FaceTime is a wonder and I can’t thank those who created it (whoever you are) enough! Also, to the brainchild of Skype- every military spouse ever says THANK YOU. However, talking to my husband on the phone when he is gone means just as much. Phone calls can be hard to find time for or even make during trainings, deployments, etc so when they come in it is a joy (until of course they cut out haha). Phone calls are often unexpected surprises (good and bad, let’s be honest- I have recently experienced the not fun kind of phone call so I get that sometimes a phone call isn’t what you are waiting around for). In the end, when a spouse on either side of the aisle takes time to call or video chat it really helps communication and can brighten the day.
4) Noteworthy Alternate Methods:
When we think of communication you usually think verbal or possibly physical, but what about the nonverbal/physical ways? How many of you out there love to receive flowers? Have your spouse clean the kitchen? Change the oil? Drive the kids to soccer? Surprise you with a pedicure? Bring home an iced tall vanilla latte on a hot day (maybe this is just me)? Receive an awesome care package? Serving your spouse and surprising them with gifts are great ways to communicate you care. I think even more than “showing you care” is the fact that you thought about what your spouse would like or appreciate and then made it happen. Especially to the Military Spouse holding it all together— to know you are thought of and the one person closest to you has gone the extra mile to make your life better without being asked can turn a marriage around.
Hopefully, you are encouraged by this post to see that you are already doing most or all of the suggestions or maybe you are inspired. There are certainly more ways to communicate with your spouse so if none of these sound good - no worries, just as long as you are positively communicating with your spouse is what matters. There is no better time to start than the present so think of something sweet your spouse might appreciate and go do it! (Who knows, you might be surprised by the response).
Some more ideas, plus a great article on why communication isn’t everything to Military Marriages.