The challenges of a military lifestyle can place many demands on Marines and their families, and sometimes the expectations we create in our marriage or life just are not met.  So how do we build intimacy and partnership, manage expectations, and keep the romance alive?  Communication, honing into the needs of your partner, and sharing your personal needs help to nurture and maintain a positive union.  Below are some tips to keep your partnership strong.

  1. Family involvement can include attending religious services together, having a family meeting, or family activities.
  2. Recreational companionship can be more important to some than to others.  The partner with this need enjoys when the other goes to the game, checks out the car they are rebuilding, goes jogging, window shops, or watches a movie with them.  If they play golf, they may enjoy their spouse being a part of it. 
  3. Good conversation is the key to strong, healthy relationships. A good conversation is when both partners are contributing, and both are giving each other their undivided attention.  Conversation fills many needs in a relationship. On many levels, it allows partners to exchange messages about love and other emotions. It is much more than talking; it requires practicing the skills of listening and the expression of thoughts and feelings.
  4. Working as a team by sharing the household responsibilities is a wonderful way to care for each other. You can make big deposits by completing tasks that are not on your list, doing the unexpected, or pitching in when not asked. By sharing or helping with household responsibilities, the partner sends the message of “I care about you.”  
  5. When your partner has a strong need for financial security, they may make statements such as: “I am tired of living from paycheck to paycheck” or “We are never going to get out of debt” or “Why do you spend so much money at the grocery store, shopping, etc.” or “You always want to spend, spend, and spend.” These are important messages of what the partner is really trying to express: Financial security is important to me and I get anxious and worried when we do not have enough to live on, pay bills, or save for emergencies, etc.
  6. For some partners, health and appearance are very important.  This doesn’t mean every partner must look like a movie star or a model.  It can include weight, hair, fitness, clothing, hygiene, smoking, and use of alcohol. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 
  7. Honesty builds trust. The message partners send to each other needs to be honest and reliable. Withdrawals occur when partners say one thing and do another. If one partner does not keep honest and open communication in a relationship, trust is undermined, and security can be destroyed.
  8. Affection is the cement of a relationship. It stands alone, apart from intimacy. It communicates commitment, security, protection and love. Affection is touching, caressing or holding hands without leading to sex. It can also take the form of notes or kind gestures, pet names, and gentle talk. Affection is verbal and physical affirmation without expecting anything in return. Habitual affection is important in every relationship.
  9. Intimacy varies from couple to couple. Set aside time to be intimate with each other. Do not be turned off to the idea of scheduling time for intimacy. Take turns initiating. Set the mood, and use your imagination. Try something new.
  10. Many couples believe respect and affirmation is the foundation to a healthy relationship. Respect and words of affirmation are powerful motivators for most people. Respect tells a person they are valuable, important, and loved. Affirmation is communicated when couples ask for input from one another. It is also communicated by the way they speak to each other. 

Visit Marine Corps Family Team Building to learn about the many classes they offer.