Healthy marriages don’t just happen. They require intentionality and focused attention, particularly amid the challenges of military life. Sometimes this means unplugging—from both technology and other demands.
“In helping professions … there’s a lot of pouring out,” says military spouse Corie Weathers, author of Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage. “In both military and first-responder marriages, I see people sacrificing themselves to take care of others.”
Corie is a licensed professional counselor. Her husband, Matt, is an army chaplain. The two often work side-by-side, leading marriage retreats and other events focused on healthy military marriage.
No one can pour out all the time without pouring in as well to sustain their own relationships, so Corie and Matt give priority to their marriage and their two sons.
“Matt and I ask each other often, ‘Where are we giving our best?’ We know we need to save some of that for each other. If I’m giving everything during the day at work, I have nothing left. That’s not fair to my family. Our job and our calling is to invest in people, but to keep doing that sometimes we have to do the exact opposite, to circle the wagons around our own relationship.”
Corie also feels a responsibility to live out the advice she gives as a counselor, speaker, and author. One piece of advice she offers is to “Pursue your spouse.” She explains that pursuing means being proactive in the relationship, to take actions to avoid problems, or to make the first step toward reconciliation when issues arise.
Corie offers some of her own best practices for pursuing a healthy marriage:
- Put phones away: Dinner time is not screen time for anybody. We have a charging station, and we try to put our phones there after 5 p.m., so they don’t follow us to the couch or the dinner table. We don’t always follow this perfectly. Sometimes a call or email is necessary, but we put our phones away otherwise.
- Evenings together: After 8 p.m. is my time with Matt. Kids have bed time, or reading time, so Matt and I can pay attention to each other. This varies by the needs of your children, but it’s important to make time together a priority.
- Date night: We try to go out together as a couple at least once a week. Sometimes this just means getting outside together to take a walk without the kids.
- Exhaustion only as necessary: Sometimes a particular work situation requires our undivided attention and all our energy, but we make this the exception rather than the rule. The rest of the time, we save our best for one another.
- Regular check ins: We say to one another, “You’ve been giving a lot lately. What do you need?” This means that we also have to pay attention to what the other is doing and giving, as well as to ourselves.
Corie Weathers is an army chaplain’s wife and the author of Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage.