Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” — Genesis 2:24
Not far from our house is a road with a sharp curve. The Department of Transportation has posted a warning sign and has even added a speed limit for what would be a safe turning speed for that curve. The sign has been there for many years—as long as the curvy road. On icy days we know to go even slower than the posted speed, because the curve is on a bit of an overpass and can be especially dangerous. People who have lived here for a long time are familiar with this spot. . . and do not hesitate to add their personal experiences and warnings to others who might not be as acquainted with the dangers.
And if you look about twenty yards behind the yellow “dangerous curve” sign with its prominent black arrow, you’ll see another prominent “warning sign” near a tree—a white cross. Beneath the cross there are placed plastic flowers which change with the seasons, as obviously this memorial is tended by loved ones. What happened? Not knowing the details, we can only guess at the circumstances that brought about this crash and this death. Had that person been warned? Did they not heed the warning?
There are those couples who are familiar with deployments and can be vast sources of help in warning others of the dangers to the health of a marriage which can occur when we don’t take seriously the special challenges of living separately due to military orders. They have safely navigated the twists and turns, and know the unique conditions under which a couple needs to take particular caution. Do you know some of these couples? Look around. . . ask around. . .pray to meet this couple who has lived victoriously in spite of the hazards. They have much wisdom to share.
And there are reasons to post warnings, as there are lives which have crashed and marriages that have burned as a result of problems which can come because of deployment and reintegration. Infidelity, poor communication resulting in misunderstandings, anger and bitterness, selfishness, pornography, lack of coping with adjustments, wrong expectations, substance abuse, physical abuse, and drifting apart—these are “dangerous curves.”
A mentoring couple would probably point out that there are precautions you can make before deployment which will help you, as a military couple, to not only avoid trouble but to actually mature in your marriage due to the endurance required. There are things you can do to plan ahead for emergencies, for finances—even for gifts on special occasions and for good communication! Getting “plugged in” to support networks and to good churches, and setting up means of accountability so both of you can be warned of impending problems—these are a few ideas how we can prepare for maintaining oneness during deployments.
Recently a friend gave me a special gift book entitled Married for Life by Bill Morelan. It’s one of those pretty gift books you find at a card shop, and the subtitle is “Inspirations from Those Married 50 years or More.” This little book contains warnings, and encouragement, written by about 100 couples whose marriages have stood the test of time and trials. Claude and Elizabeth Steen’s (married in 1943) chapter is entitled, “Learn to be Unselfish—Always put the Other’s Interests First.” Michael and Jean Duras (married in 1937 in Poland) named their vignette, “Pray With Each Other and For Each Other Daily.” Melvin and Maggie Smith (married in 1933) wrote “First Make a Commitment to the Lord, Then to Each Other.” Each chapter is accompanied by Scripture, truth from the word of God.
After all, it was God who designed and created marriage for our good. Just as the highway engineers, who designed and are in charge of the road near our house, knew to put up the sign for its correct use—the Bible contains instructions on how to love, respect, and treat each other in marriage. There are many good books available on Christian marriage plus many good Bible studies to challenge you. Some of these can even be done “together” during deployment. One of our favorite companion studies is “Loving Your Husband” by Cynthia Heald and “Loving Your Wife” by Jack and Cynthia Heald. There are twelve chapters in these studies—complementing the other so that you could work on them together and discuss your answers over email. HomeBuilders Bible studies are published by FamilyLife and are extremely helpful for small groups that want to grow in their marriages with God’s blueprints, starting with Genesis 2:24. One HomeBuilders study written especially to handle deployment is entitled Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready. It is six weeks long–and a perfect way for mentor couples to help those experiencing the challenges of deployment. Also, we post questions at the end of each “Excellent or Praiseworthy” devotion (posted on Mondays and Thursdays) so that the chance for communication of deep thoughts is provided.
No doubt you have invested much in your relationship with your spouse. No one wants that to be lost in a head-on collision with selfishness or sin. Heed the warning signs, and drive (live) carefully!
Questions to share:
- Do you know a couple from whom you could get advice about how to stay connected in your marriage during your deployment?
- What could you do to learn from them and perhaps prevent some potential problems?