Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chaplain Gorman’s Rules for a Successful Military Marriage - Deployment

Good evening all.

Many of you are familiar with my "Rules of Marriage." I send it around every once in a while. It has undergone some revision since I am here. I have also written a new one specifically focused on the military. I would like to thank Rav Jen and my mother for their input. Since most of you have seen my original "Rules of Marriage," I will not post that document unless someone asks very nicely.

Feel free to comment. I will likely place some of my own notes in between.

1. Marriage is not 50/50. It is 100/100. You are each 100% responsible for the success of your marriage.

2. Take 30 minutes with your spouse every day. It may not seem like much, but you will think of nothing else in the middle of a deployment.

Remarkably true.

3. Plant little notes around the house before you leave. Plant notes in the luggage before departure. Do not pack the cat.

Jennifer filled my luggage with tootsie rolls. I was finding them for days. The world is a notably better place with kosher supervision for tootsie rolls.

4. Call, text, or e-mail your spouse every day. Use skype when you can. Send pictures. Do this especially if you have been out on a patrol or if the command has had to shut down the internet. Even with the internet, the handwritten word has value in this world. Send letters home. Keep a dummy e-mail account. That is the one you use when you write an angry, frustrated e-mail. Having a dummy e-mail account allows you the catharsis of hitting the ‘send’ button without causing distress to your spouse. If you are going to be “outside the wire,” do not compromise operational security in letting your spouse know. Remember: as much as your spouse wants to know, your spouse does not want you to compromise the mission. Your spouse understands that your life, as well as the life of your unit, depends on operational security. Make contact as soon as possible upon return, before taking a shower.

We have been pretty good. We skype almost daily. There is plenty of e-mail. We have had no issues of operational security, although I have a list of code words that I will send home immediately if that changes. We have not done spectacularly with the written word, although Gavi sent me a postcard.

5. Talk about your spouse with respect and love. Joke with your spouse. Never joke about your spouse.

6. You are on deployment. Whether you like it or not, the chequebook must stay at home. Trust your spouse with the math and with the details. You have to.

This was difficult. Jennifer can handle a chequebook. However, it had been my responsibility since we moved to Toronto five and a half years ago. It was difficult to let it go.

7. The six weeks prior to and the six weeks after deployment are the hardest times in a military marriage. Fighting is a normal part of gearing up for a deployment. It is easier to be openly angry than it is to be openly sad. It is easier to be angry than to realize that the “rules” of your marriage have shifted during the separation. Decide in advance how to handle these “quarrels.” Remember that these are quarrels from sadness, and not from anger.

8. Plan your return. You should plan together, and you both should plan little surprises.

At this point, my plans have gotten me as far as unpacking. I need to think about this more.

9. You can flirt with your spouse even from a distance of 10,000 miles. Do so. Write an erotic note or letter. Use graphic, but clean language. “Erotic” and “pornographic” are not the same thing. Be romantic. Even when apart, spouses should continue to be lovers.

I have no comment here. A gentleman never writes and tells.

10. Remember that spouses need physical contact. Even stepping on a toe accidentally is a reminder that you share a life. Absence of that contact can be a sub-conscious source of insecurity. You need to make up for the lack of direct contact any way you can. One of the joys of the internet is that you can send flowers. Do so. From home, send food to the field, as well as other little odds and ends.

I have sent flowers, once. It is getting to be time to do that again. This has not been one of my strengths anyway, but I am trying.

11. Write notes to your kids. They miss you too. Tell them what you are doing. They are interested. Listen to what they are doing. They want you to be part of their lives as much as possible.

We have been very good here. Outside of the fact that Gavi really needs me to wrestle him into submission, the contact has been fantastic.

12. Never put yourself in a situation where your honour or integrity might be called into question.

13. The old adage of “what happens on deployment stays on deployment” should never have existed. In this day of incurable, fatal, and highly contagious diseases, that adage really needs to go away. Remember rule #12 as written above.

14.  Those of you who are home: your spouse is carrying a 50-pound pack, a weapon, and a huge amount of responsibility.  Please do not assume that the spouse can come back and readjust overnight.

Those of you who are deployed: while you were away, your spouse got kids up every day, changed the oil on the car, had a really bizarre incident with the iron, changed the kitty litter, and did everything else that goes into running a home alone.  Do not assume that just because you were carrying a 50-pound pack, a weapon, and a huge amount of responsibility means that your spouse did not work very hard also.

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