To really understand our relationship, you need to know that my husband is a Marine Corps pilot. Confidence comes naturally to most pilots — they must be sure of themselves in the plane, and that often translates to daily life. In fact, since the day we met, my husband and I have had a running agree-to-disagree understanding. He says he’s confident; I say he’s cocky. After 10 years we can still correct each other, roll our eyes and smile at this.
So, as any sassy woman would, I try to keep him grounded. (That’s a little pilot humor for you.) I don’t spend much time fluffing his ego. We communicate mostly with quips, one-liners, sarcasm, the occasional cheesy joke, fact-based statements and venting to each other about whatever the headache of the day was. Even though that’s how we’ve operated for 10 years, I know I should probably be better about saying the mushy stuff more often. I’ve gotten better (I think) about saying things like, “You’re such a good dad,” “You’re my favorite person” or “I’m so proud of you.” But it’s out of my comfort zone to spout off deep stuff.
I’d heard of Military OneSource’s Love Every Day program but honestly never gave it a second look until I needed to try it for this blog post — how very “investigative journalist” of me. It’s a 21-day program aimed at improving communication between couples. You don’t need to be married, and it doesn’t cost a cent. You just fill out some information, and you’re in. The only catch is that you both have to register and confirm the registration to get started.
So, I briefed my husband on my assignment and that I needed his participation to make it work. Not really knowing what this whole program entailed, I gave him my best guess when he asked reluctantly what he had to do. I told him we were going to get daily texts to remind us to say nice things to each other. His response was: “Why do we need an app for that? I can just set an alarm on my phone.”
I had to admit that he had a point there. But, because he’s a good sport, and I’ve spent 10 years supporting his career, he went along with it. He owed me one, right? For roughly a week we got nowhere because one of us — maybe both of us — never accepted the invitation to join. I would get a daily text, and I would try to log in through the link I was sent, but I always received a “Tick tock — still waiting on your partner to join” message.
With my deadline looming and my husband now on a different continent, I bugged him again. “Did you get a text for Love Every Day?”
His text in response: “I hate passwords.” So, that’s a yes.
Somehow though — my best guess is that he finished setting up his account — we were both in.
I’ll be quite honest, getting two people set up was a little tricky, but once we were in, the questions were really good! It wasn’t at all the cheesy romantic stuff I had built up in my brain. Quite the opposite — many of the questions or tasks did a solid job of finding favorite memories or qualities of my husband or our relationship that I love but keep to myself. Love Every Day drew them out so that we could talk about them. For example, like most couples we’ve told the story of how we met — oh, I don’t know — about three million times. But, one of the Love Every Day questions was “What do you remember most about the first time you met your partner?” That is a memory I don’t vocalize when I tell the story, not even to him. But, now we’ve talked about it and the conversation added some depth to our story.
I also appreciated things that seemed to have no trace of cheesy romance. Questions like, “What is the best thing about your day today?” gave us a break from nightly venting session. Sharing our complaints and frustrations is important for our own mental health, but sometimes we get focused on that and forget to share the good stuff.
All in all, I’m happy that we did the Love Every Day challenge. (That’s not the official name, but competitive people like us respond best to challenges.) I see some complications if you’re trying to do the challenge during a deployment or detachment (as was our situation), but it would probably be perfect for pre- or post-deployment. For the days we missed because he was out flying and didn’t respond in time or I was busy trying to do all the things here back home, I took a screen shot of the daily question, so we have a reel of conversation starters to choose from that are deeper than the usual, “How did your day go?” Because it’s too easy to answer that with a “fine” or, in my husband’s case, a whole bunch of pilot jargon that flies over my head, (That’s the last pilot pun, I swear — I’m done.)
What do you think, would you and your partner try the Love Every Day program?