Military couples face challenges that civilian couples do not. We learn to pivot without much notice, are constantly relocating, and reinventing ourselves and our families in new landscapes, jobs, schools and support networks. At times, military life encourages us to be independent of our partners. The resilience and self-growth that comes from this help us to get through the hard times and do what needs to be done. When we come back together, nurturing our relationships is vital to reconnecting, helping our relationships to thrive, and remembering that while we can be independent of one another, we are parts of a whole.
The word nurture implies attention to something or someone, showing care, and fostering growth and development. Even the best relationships need nurturing to continue to grow and thrive. Speaking for myself, I’ve had times when I’ve had to be so independent that I would default to doing things on my own and making decisions on my own because that had been my “normal” for a while. While my relationship was fine, so to speak, it was also stagnant. So how do you nurture a marriage or partnership?
- Communication. Many of you may have guessed that communication is key. Speaking honestly, not letting issues grow into larger problems, active listening and giving your partner the same courtesies are vital components of communication.
- Time and Intention. Setting aside time for each other with intention can help to foster intimacy and growth. Intention means that this is time for the two of you to connect, even if it is for a brief period each day. This can look like designated date nights, enjoying a cup of tea or wine while talking after the kids are down, meeting for lunch, cooking together, going for a walk. The key is you and your partner together with the purpose being to connect.
- Appreciation. I have fallen into the trap of taking my husband for granted. It happens. Acts of kindness and showing appreciation to our partners are so important. Little (and big) things mean a lot. Learn your partner’s love language, send them a sweet text, make their favorite meal, thank them for all they do, let them know why you love them and how much you appreciate them.
Military OneSource has services, resources and expert guidance for military couples in need of relationship support.