by Marshéle Carter Waddell
Military life keeps me on my knees. My husband’s dangerous job coupled with our demanding lifestyle have resulted in permanent elbow indentations on my side of the bed. I hear about husbands and wives who have daily morning devotions together before work and who pray together before bed. We’re not one of those couples. Our times together come in small, delicious doses. Working through a daily devotional side by side would take us a decade to complete!
Separations due to deployments and training make sustaining spiritual oneness a marital strain that’s seldom mentioned. Christ is our first love. Our common faith in Him is the foundation of our love, our marriage and our home. Letting our spiritual oneness slide into second or third priority isn’t an option.
Most married couples, military or not, live spiritually separate. They have never shared real soul food. Being true soul mates is difficult, even for the most committed, Christian civilian couples. Physical oneness requires trust, vulnerability and the desire to fulfill the needs of another. Spiritual oneness requires the same, only in the unseen realm.
As a Christian military couple, our first devotion is to the Lord, His will for us, and His word to us. Our duty to country flows out of our service to Him. Staying close in issues of the heart helps keep these two priorities in right perspective. In 25 years of military marriage and service, we’ve experienced both spiritual abundance and spiritual drought in our relationship. The physical separations intensify times of spiritual connectedness and times of spiritual isolation. With a little creativity and a lot of tenacity, we’ve learned ways to stay spiritually in step with one another. Consider trying one or two ideas from our tool belt:
- Send E-prayers: Share your prayer requests with one another daily by email.
- Pick Prayer Prompts: Choose something that you see daily that can serve as a reminder for you to intercede for your sweetheart, i.e., those magnetic yellow ribbons on car bumpers or an American flag. When your eye catches sight of one, let it prompt you to pray for your spouse.
- Pray Scripture for Each Other: Choose a favorite portion of the Bible and ask your husband or wife to pray it verbatim for you daily. Many of the psalms and prayers of the Apostle Paul work well.
- Start a Book Club for Two: Agree to read a selected title simultaneously while separated. Discuss the book chapter by chapter via email or on the phone. Choose authors who challenge you both to grow spiritually or choose a book of the Bible to explore together.
- Cover Your Kids: Both parents need to be up to date and involved in the total development of their children. This is especially difficult for deployed parents. The spouse at home can identify areas that need both parents’ prayer coverage. Share these with the deployed spouse in a weekly or bi-weekly email or letter. Remember to include answered prayers along with the next update.
- Keep It All in the Church Family: Get involved and established in a church long before deployment. The benefits of being surrounded by a caring community of believers while your loved one is away are priceless.
- Find Strength in Numbers: Ask and believe God to bring and build same-gender spiritual companionship into your spouse’s life. A church family is critical; but, a military family can get lost and easily overlooked in a large congregation. Encourage her to join a women’s Bible study. Encourage him to participate in a men’s prayer group. Help each other find special interest cell groups.
- Send Spiritual Care Packages: You’ve sent his favorite candy and satisfied his sweet tooth. Try something different by sending a spiritual care package to sweeten and strengthen his faith. Include a newly released book, CD or magazine. Tuck in your handwritten prayers for him, news from faith-based publications and web sites tailored to his interests. Ask his friends and acquaintances if they would like to write a note to him as well.
- Choose a Spiritual Address: Select a biblical promise or truth you both can call “home” while the storm passes over. My husband and I chose Psalm 91. I got to thinking about this. Our house number is 917. I mentioned this to Mark and we looked up the corresponding verse: Psalm 91:7. “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” This is our “address,” Psalm 91:7! This is “where” God wants us to live as we go through this trial together. This is to be our address of faith as we are separated—he on a war front and I on the home front—both facing the unknown.
About the author:
A 25-year wife of a U.S. Navy SEAL, Marshele Carter Waddell is author of Hope for the Home Front: Winning the Emotional and Spiritual Battles of the Military Wife, Hope for the Home Front Bible Study, and co-author of When War Comes Home: Christ-centered Healing for Wives of Combat Veterans. She is also a contributor to Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. Visit Marshéle’s Web site at www.hopeforthehomefront.com.