Early on in my marriage I realized that in a relationship there is nothing more important than trust. Over and over I saw that the couples who built trust slowly over time through their actions are the ones who are still together. It wasn’t about the words they said or how often they told their spouse that they loved them, trust was something that had to be earned and built upon no matter how long a couple had been together.
However, unlike our civilian counterparts, military spouses have an added burden, they have to do all of this but in a very unique environment. Military couples don’t have the luxury of being together all the time and often when we are in the same location, duty calls. Being able to trust our spouses when they are 1000’s of miles away is hard enough, but in these circumstances it is even more challenging.
Our first deployment was at our 16 year mark right after my husband chose to leave his corporate career and return to military service. Now you would think that we were well beyond all of the insecurities and trust issues by then. The fact is that I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that there were times, especially when I hadn’t heard from him for weeks, that I had to use the following tips to continue to nurture and strengthen the trust we had taken so long to build.
6 Tips for building the trust in your relationship
1. Trust grows when love is present, and remember that love is giving, not getting. It’s important to show each other love in frequent and creative ways. No matter how far away you are, you can do something each day to say I love you.
When my husband was in Iraq, he had no internet and spotty phone service at best. But every Sunday he would catch a ride to a larger base then walk ¾ of a mile just to hear my voice. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me and how many brownie points he earned that year. If you can’t call send an email. No computer access? Send a letter or card via snail mail. Keep a journal and send it back and forth on a regular basis. Do whatever it takes to let your spouse know that they are on your mind and in your heart.
2. Value your spouse’s opinion as much as your own especially in topics such as money, children and extracurricular activities.
3. Be predictable. Predictability is so important especially when you are worlds apart. Trust is built on consistency and the fact that we know and understand our spouses and their actions. When our spouses are deployed it is the perfect time to try something new, but it isn’t the time to unleash your inner child in a whole new way. The fastest way to have the trust questioned in your marriage is to suddenly do something so out of character that it causes our spouse’s warning bells to go off.
If you usually Skype at 7 pm each night, don’t go missing for days on end. If you always send an email at the end of the week, don’t blow it off. I promise it will save you a lot of heartache and make your life easier when they return if you both have an idea of who and what you are coming back to.
4. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Body language, tone, and expression have a huge impact on how we feel, especially when you are communicating in creative ways.
When my husband is deployed, sometimes our only communication is via email, and I know when something is going on with him or his unit even before I fully comprehend one word he has written. The tone of his email says it all, which is why honesty and full disclosure, even if it’s only to say that what’s going on is confidential, means everything. When he shares what he can in a meaningful way or tells me that he can’t share what’s going on it helps me know that I can trust him to keep our secrets safe as well.
5. Let your spouse know what you need. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has told me that he is not a mind reader. I’m hoping that someday I will actually believe him but until then I have learned that when he’s over “there” that the idea that he can figure out what I need is insane. The best way that any military spouse can get the support they need from their other half is to ask for it loudly, clearly and without all the drama.
6. Share personal information about yourself, your daily challenges and all your triumphs. It’s important in every relationship that we not only feel that we are part of something special but we need to know that our ideas and interests matter. One way to do that is to share personal information with one another on a regular basis. By opening up to one another you build a trust and sincerity that will permeate through your relationship in so many ways.
Judy Davis – The Direction Diva is a military spouse, motivational speaker, author and blogger (http://thedirectiondiva.com) that inspires military spouses to become stronger and more resilient “One moment at a time”. Follow her page on Facebook or tweet her at @JDavis55.