I’ll let you in on a little secret: every couple fights. Military or civilian, every relationship faces problems and, most often, the husband and wife will have very different solutions.
Of course there are some disputes that are exclusive to the military lifestyle — the debate over who should manage the finances during a deployment, for instance, is one that the average civilian couple never has.
But even couples who are one-half soldier have to deal with the normal, average, run-of-the-mill marital conflicts. Perhaps the most dominant spat at this time of the year is where to go for the holidays. This has been the largest source of strife since my husband’s return — whose family?
Fortunately, our families do live in the same small town. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand how couples with families in separate states can manage. Still, I have a large family that’s steeped in tradition, and my husband’s family has traditions of their own. That would be great if it weren’t for the massive scheduling overlap. Normally, I’d probably be guilty of throwing a bit of a fit — which, for me, is really just a lot of pouting — in order to make sure we spend an acceptable amount of time with my family. This year is different.
Since my soldier "celebrated" Christmas in Iraq last year, I thought it would be more fair to let him decide how we spend the holiday. His plan is reasonable, but still a little painful for me. We were to spend the entirety of Christmas Eve with his family, with the exception of 30 minutes at my grandparents’ for their family tradition. Then we could spend Christmas day with my family. Although I knew this plan wouldn’t be enough to appease my grandma, I also knew that my husband’s great sacrifice to serve his country definitely merited a little sacrifice on my part.
Even though this decision has caused a little tension on both sides of the family, it has really been a great exercise for our marriage. With such a small window of opportunity to see family — whenever leave is available — it’s easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of Christmas and New Year’s and forget about making your spouse the highest priority. And our newly returned soldiers deserve to be highest priority.