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“The Submariner Treatment”

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. — Psalm 139:7-10

I have a great dentist. Through the years he has taken care of my teeth by preventing problems and treating problems. Lately he has even put up with some of my whining about aging, expensive crowns, and gum erosion . . .

Just the other day, when I was in for a “routine cleaning” (thank goodness there wasn’t anything else wrong!), I told him that the next time I come in I will need a thorough exam because I might be heading to a remote location for a while—and I don’t want any surprises while I am away. His response was, “Oh, so you want The Submariner Treatment!”

I guess I had forgotten that “once upon a time” he had been a Navy dentist. It’s been probably twenty years since he served our nation in that capacity—but obviously there are some things he hasn’t forgotten. He explained to me that when our submariners are preparing to go underway, they are given an extensive dental screening to identify and treat any potential problems which might be revealed during that period of deployment. He said that the dentists might go so far as to remove a sailor’s wisdom teeth—since the Navy just can’t afford for anything to go wrong while at sea when no further help or treatment is available. My comment was, “That’s radical!” He agreed, but emphasized that this is serious business. I can only imagine . .

When I left his office, I thought about what he had said. And my mind went one step further—what if we gave our marriages “The Submariner Treatment” before deployment?What if that philosophy of identifying and eliminating potential risks was seen as beneficial for couples who are about to be separated geographically for an extended period of time—in serious circumstances? What would that look like . . . ?

What if we identified some “issues” that had not been dealt with in our marriage, before they got worse because of the stress of separation?

What if we extended forgiveness—verbally—and meant it?

What if we sought help for conflict resolution, so that we would be prepared for potential misunderstandings?

What if we read a book on good communication skills in marriage, and discussed it?

What if we got our paperwork in order—wills, powers of attorney, insurance, bills—and talked about what would happen if “the worst” occurred?

What if we were open to something radical—like eliminating a friendship which was a negative influence?

What if we examined our lives for sinful addictions, and asked for forgiveness?

What if we decided, ahead of time, what would be the best way for us to do R&R (away or at home—in-laws or no in-laws)?

What if we talked about our expectations and fears?

What if we made sure that the one at home was “plugged in” to a good support network?

What if we attended a marriage conference together—kind of a marital “tune-up”?

What if we made sure that the maintenance on our car and house (and computer?) were up-to-date?

What if we got some counseling for dealing with “baggage” from former relationships?

What if we invited a couple with deployment experience over for dinner so that we could discuss some of the unexpected challenges?

What if we discussed a plan for emergencies?

What if we learned to pray together?

What if we renewed our commitment to love each other sacrificially?

I’m sure when my dentist mentioned “The Submariner Treatment” he had no idea I would take that colloquialism (which he said may not even be used these days) into the realm of preparing a marriage for deployment challenges.

I guess my thought would be “why not?” If the Navy (which has been doing deployments forever) knows how to prepare their sailors for extended time underwater, then why can’t we be equally smart about preparing the most important human relationship we have for time apart during wartime? Makes sense to me!

But what about if you are already deployed? What if problems were not addressed before you left, and now they’re even worse? Or preparations were not in place and now your spouse is scrambling to recover?

Unlike the situation of a submariner underway with a toothache and no help, God is always present and available—there is no problem too large or too small for His care. He is everywhere and knows everything.

It is never too late for His treatment of forgiveness and redemption. And Jesus Christ already paid the bill. . . .

Questions to Share:

1. Do you think that deployment causes problems or reveals problems?

2. What can you do, as a couple, to prepare for the time apart—in hopes of avoiding problems?Look through the list above and see what you can do to get ready. . . .

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