Five years ago today, I nervously picked at mac and cheese while trying to convince myself that I did not like the guy sitting next to me. He was older, in the military and basically everything I didn’t want in a guy.
Spoiler: he turned out to be everything I wanted in a guy and now we’re married and I write cheesy blog posts on our dateaversary.
It’s a little hard to believe that five years have gone by this quickly. In the time since that (slightly awkward) first date, we’ve built a life together: making it through multiple deployments, getting married, moving into our dream home, adding four-legged members of our family and traveling to new places.
Looking back at five years of memories, all I can think is: boy have we been busy! Seriously, so much has happened in the last 1,826 days. We’ve had so many adventures and our relationship has become so much a part of who I am that I cannot imagine my life without A.
I wouldn’t say that being with A has made me a different person, but over the past five years, I’ve grown as a person, largely because of him. He makes me brave enough to try new things, strong enough to face my fears and confident enough to pursue my biggest dreams.
Whether it’s quiet nights in or nights out on the town, I’ve loved dating my husband over the past five years. I still get butterflies every time he smiles at me and look forward to him coming home each night. Each deployment homecoming makes me feel like I’m back on that first date all over again.
So here’s to five years since that first date and the many more dates to come. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us!
How often have you heard the expression “absence makes the heart grow fonder?” Military spouses hear it a lot, especially from civilian friends and family members who are legitimately trying to soften the blow of frequent and prolonged separations. Maybe it’s because we hear it so often or because it’s often said during the toughest moments of a deployment, but odds are we roll our eyes and brush it off as meaningless. But I actually don’t think it is; there may be something to relationship habituation. I know, I know. But hear me out on this one.
You see there actually is some scientific evidence that may back up the concept. The basic idea is that if you’re constantly exposed to something, you’ll get used to it and it won’t have as big of an impact on you as it did originally. This can apply to everything from a fancy meal to a new phone to that expensive sweater you just had to have, but doesn’t seem as great the 5th time you wear it. This is called habituation and is something that military spouses don’t seem to get a lot of.
Think about it. Between regular workdays, training, TDYs and deployments, military couples barely have time to get used to a joint schedule, let alone become immune to each other. It’s why homecomings have the rosy glow of a first date and the butterflies to go with it. On the bright side, you get to live like newlyweds longer and maybe find yourself loving your spouse more after a long separation. They have a stronger effect on you.
Unfortunately, this same concept may also be why couples may learn down the road that they aren’t as well suited for each other as they thought, especially now that they have to spend more of their time together. But it doesn’t have to be that way! You can make relationship habituation work in your favor throughout your relationship, even if you never go through a deployment.
Spend time apart, even when he or she is home.
I’m not saying spend months at your summer home alone (invite me!), but rather explore your own hobbies/activities. A few hours or even a day here or there spent apart may recharge your relationship habituation batteries and give you plenty of new things to talk about.
Openly and respectfully discuss the things that irritate you about your loved one.
In my experience, it’s the smallest irritants that cause the biggest fights and the most resentment, largely because someone has kept them on lock down for eight years and suddenly lets it all come pouring out because they cannot stand one more pair of dirty socks on the floor. So nip it in the bud and discuss it early on before you’re boiling with rage at the mere thought of cotton footwear.
Regularly look for new reasons to love your spouse.
Part of the fun of a new relationship is that you discover new awesome things about your significant other on a regular basis, sometimes even daily. The same concept applies if your loved one has been gone for an extended period of time: you rediscover how good they smell or that cute way they crinkle their nose when they laugh. So look for ways to get that same warm and fuzzy feeling even if you’ve spent every day together for a year straight or 10 years straight.
Do new things outside of your collective comfort zone together.
In new relationships, you’re constantly doing stuff together for the first time, learning about each other and bonding as you go. But as time goes on, couples often stop exploring together, instead settling into a routine of Netflix and chill. But I think it’s so important to continuously do new things together! You can try a unique date night idea or visit a new place or even just eat a new restaurant. Create new memories together. And who knows? Maybe you’ll see a whole new side of your spouse when you take them salsa dancing for the first time.
Relationship habituation isn’t necessarily something military spouses are super familiar with, at least not during their spouse’s military career. And in a way, we’re lucky because of that. But as time goes on, we may find that all the time together is a bit too much time together. How do you make relationship habituation work for you instead of against you?
Before A and I were married, we had to go through a series of meetings with our chaplain so that he could ensure we had a good grasp of both who we were marrying and what marriage meant. Part of our first exercise was to take the Five Love Languages quiz so that we could compare our results. Two-plus years later, we finally got around to reading the book that went with it!
For those who aren’t familiar with the book, the basic concept is that we all have a primary Love Language (Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time or Physical Touch) that when used appropriately makes us feel the most loved. As a couple, we need to be mindful of each other’s love language so that we can make them feel as loved as possible. For the record, my primary love language is Words of Affirmation while A’s is Physical Touch.
I appreciate that Dr. Chapman recognized the unique challenges military couples face, so much so that he wrote a military edition of his Five Love Languages book which A and I read together while on vacation. Well, to be more accurate, I read the entire book and highlighted a few sections for him to read.
Any military spouse will tell you that the military lifestyle makes it really difficult to stay connected. Between long hours, conflicting schedules and deployment, it can be hard to fit in quality time or any sort of physical connection. Luckily, Dr. Chapman took that into account and offered quite a few tips for loving someone in their primary love language even when separated. I felt those tips were very useful and could go a long way to helping couples stay connected during deployment. For example, A’s love language is Physical Touch, but I can’t exactly hug him during deployment. Instead, I can send a care package that smells like me or a t-shirt I’ve slept in for a few days to make him feel close to me.
I would highly recommend military couples read this book, even if you feel like your relationship is strong already. It’s a great reminder to work on loving each other every single day. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in how I interact with A as I keep the Love Language tips in mind. And honestly, I’ve seen him make small changes as well which make me feel all warm and gooey inside. And who doesn’t want that?
Have you read the Five Love Languages or taken the quiz? How do you love your significant other in their love language?
Two years ago today, I nervously took what felt like both the longest and shortest walk of my life. But when I reached the other end of the aisle and A took my hand, I knew that walk was the beginning of one of the greatest adventures of my life.
Two years later, I still feel that way.
We still talk about our wedding day as the best day ever and the greatest wedding we’d ever been to, but honestly the days in between then and now have been just as sweet. We may have said “see you later” more often than either of us would have liked, but we got to follow those up with some wonderful homecomings.
In those two years, we’ve built our dream home. We’ve traveled, experienced new things together and fought and made up. We’ve made so many amazing memories all while filling our life together with laughter, random dancing in the kitchen and lots and lots of love.
I may be celebrating solo this year, but that doesn’t mean I feel any less loved. Happy anniversary to my favorite guy. Here’s to many, many, many, many more!
When A and I got married, we decided to stick to traditional gifts for each wedding anniversary. Ok. If I’m being honest, A had nothing to do with the decision. It was all my idea, but he got on board pretty quickly. So with our anniversary coming up, it’s time to start looking for traditional second wedding anniversary gifts!
The traditional second anniversary gift is cotton which sounds a little dull on the surface, but when I started brainstorming, I found that there were a lot of great options out there! That’s the great part of traditional wedding gifts: you can get really creative with your interpretation of the theme.
Traditional Second Wedding Anniversary Gifts
When you think cotton, you don’t necessarily think art, but if you have something done on canvas, it totally counts! You could do a wedding photo or your first dance lyrics and places like Shutterfly do them for fairly reasonable prices.
You may think that bedding sounds a little too practical to be a good anniversary gift, but then you’ve never slept on these Vera Wang sheets. They’re a little on the pricey side, but are amazingly soft and last a really long time. I heart mine.
If you want to go with something a little less expensive (and more DIY), these scripted pillowcases could be super cute! If the DIY route isn’t for you, this one would be perfect. Most use your first dance song lyrics, but you could also do your wedding vows! I’m definitely leaning towards this option for A’s gift.
Clothing and accessories
Another great way to give traditional second wedding anniversary gifts is clothing and accessories! I love this funny cotton apron for when A’s in the kitchen; now if only I could convince him to wear it. If your guy is a little more conservative, these anniversary socks or cuff links are nice options too. Last, but not least, can someone buy me these warming slippers? Don’t they look cozy?!
How would you give cotton as an anniversary present?