A recent post on spousebuzz.com starts with
"I know for a fact that my husband loves me more than anything. He's proven it. How?"
(Short answer: love shouldn't have to be "proved." it should be understood.) Now for what I posted.
I always burn a CD of love songs for my Mrs. before we deploy. Everything, from cd cover and insert, to the album art and even the image printed on the CD has meaning--a favorite picture, something.
The songs aren't things I wish I could say; I've never had any problems telling my Mrs. that I love her. I say it early and often. The songs are just songs that remind me of her or of special times with her and the kids.
Neil Diamond has appeared, as well as willie nelson, but so has mike myers singing from the shrek album.
I keep the cd hidden until zero-hour, when I either give it to her or already have it loaded in the cd player. It usually takes her a couple weeks to start listening, and then only a song or two at a time before the tears start.
However, although I do special things for my Mrs. before and during a deployment (don't get me started on 1-800-FLOWERS) I never wait until I am gone or leaving to do or say the most special things.
And I think that is really the key to a happy Army Marriage. The spouse realizes that the Military comes first because it says it comes first, and we soldiers focus intently on our jobs because lives are at stake, but given the choice, we'd be cuddled up next to our spouse, her 2-day leg stubble scratching our legs, thinking about things other than work, and wanting to discuss whatever "comes up."
It's not so hard to have a successful Military Marriage. It's really quite simple. First, you have to love your spouse more than you love yourself--not the whole "willing to die for them" bit, because that's really easy to say, but how often does that happen? You have to love them enough to see them happy or even satisfied, doing something they also love to do, which does not involve you, and which will take them away from you for days, weeks, months, years at a time, and sometimes even forever. You have to accept that they may come home from these times physically and emotionally different, and love them enough to continue putting them first, to help them and put their lives back together.
It seems like a one way giving street, and it is; for each of you. You can't give with an expectation of an equitable return. You can't say to yourself: "She gave me a Big TV for my birthday, I need to get her Diamonds for our anniversary." You can't say: "He's been gone for a year, so he should be home for a year," and when that doesn't happen, feel slighted by him or his job. The military isn't just a job. It requires courage, competence, commitment, candor, and above all, personal sacrifice--giving of self for others is our way of life. The hardest thing to realize for the spouse is that for all of the giving of ourselves we do, we would still rather focus all of our efforts on making you happy. The problem, again, is that people's lives depend on us doing our job, spending as much time as we can sustaining, maintaining, training, and developing as warriors. Sometimes, it's that focus on training and our work ethic that saves our own lives and brings us back to you.