Five Tips to a Happy Military Marriage

Guest Post by Lauren Oliver

My family has a military background.  Both my mother’s parents served in WWII, my grandmother in the Women’s Air Corps, and my grandfather in the Army.  My husband’s father is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the USAF and he served in the Vietnam War while his wife stayed home, on-base with their newborn son. What both couples have in common, even through the separation of years and a generation, is that they both were in military marriages.

They had to work to stay happy in a military marriage. Even through all the stress and worrying from my mother-in-law’s experience to the stress and responsibility that my grandparents undertook in the war, one thing is paramount: it requires understanding and compassion to make a military marriage work.

My grandparents were not married at the time that they both went to war. They dated for a long while, and they ended up deciding that it would be best to break things off until after the war if they both were able to come back to each other. But the devotion and love was still there, along with the worry and stress that comes with waiting to hear about your spouse or loved one.

My in-laws were married during my father-in-law’s deployment, and from my mother-in-law’s point of view, it was very stressful, very nerve-wracking, and ultimately, it takes a very strong will and a confidence in love that the average marriage does not count on, as they are not put to the test in this way. When I asked her for the top five tips she could give for other military marriages on how to make it work and make it a happy military marriage, she told me this:

  1. You have to be willing to take the bad with the good. You need to be prepared for anything and everything. And not take it with a grain of salt. Focus on the love that you have for each other, and have a plan for when he comes home. Enjoy every minute that you’re together, because if he sees regular combat, it may be your last.
  2. Be understanding…very understanding. If you cannot understand and be that rock for your spouse when you’re together, the threads will unravel and the marriage will not stand the test of time and battle.
  3. Be accepting. This is your spouse’s career, their life’s work. Ultimately, you need to be accepting of what they do and that sometimes they cannot discuss certain things at home. You need to be accepting of that and let some things be.
  4. Be supportive and loving. When your spouse comes home, offer family and alone time. Let them know how much they’re missed and appreciated. What your spouse is actually doing is supporting the family financially—a very extreme profession to be sure, but it is still family support.
  5. Be faithful to each other. Nothing is worse than sending your spouse or receiving from your spouse a “Dear John” or “Dear Jane” letter. When someone is in combat or on deployment, they need to know that they have a family and loved ones to come home to. This gives them purpose in ensuring their survival.

I hope these five tips to a happy military marriage can help you have a long and healthy military marriage.  If you are serving in the military and are married, I would love to hear any tips that you can recommend.  Just leave a comment to share your thoughts.

If you have any questions about keeping your military marriage happy, you can ask them here and we will do our best to provide an answer.


About the Author: Lauren Oliver is a stay at home mom currently working from home as a freelance writer. She is certified in Education with a background in education, writing, and tutoring to help students develop their educational skills. She comes from a military family and writes articles about education, military life, and personal development.


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Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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24 thoughts on “Five Tips to a Happy Military Marriage”

  1. It is good to remember that marriage is work, and no two days are ever the same. Here are two more that have gotten my husband and I through more than ten years of marriage: never go to bed angry, and say I love you every chance you get. (And say it like you mean it – you never know if you might not get another chance.)

  2. Here are a few marriage tips:

    1. Trust
    2. Respect
    3. Loyalty
    4. Dealing with problems as they arise
    5. Think in the other person’s perspective
    6. Agree to disagree

    I hope these tips help!

  3. Katelyn Hensel

    Absolutely excellent post. It’s one that’s particularly helpful for military marriages and gives us a real perspective into the lives of military families (One that Army Wives doesn’t quite capture…) I also believe that ideas such as you have to be willing to take the bad with the good. also can apply to marriages across the board. You need to be prepared for anything and everything in all kinds of marriages. Sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, those things can happen to anyone at any time and couples need to be strong in their love for each other, particularly when dealing with the challenges of living a military lifestyle .

    1. “Take the bad with the good.” That is some great marriage advice for military folks and non-military. No one is perfect. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Part of having a strong marriage means you accept the other person for who they are, the good and the bad. You don’t try to change the other person. If you want someone to change, change yourself.

      Great comment.


  4. Marriage workshops are available through the Service Member Support Division in Wisconsin. The program is called Strong Bonds. They have workshops and counseling for families, married couples, and singles. The programs are run through the chaplains; therefore, the marriage workshops must be married couples and not engaged.

  5. Suzanne Bowen

    Lauren, I have 11 close relatives who were or are in military marriages. We worry some because we believe it is almost a Herculean task to be married and make the partnership work, first of all, and second to be married to someone in the military whether one or both spouses are. Other people in the family need to be supportive. An example is when the military spouse has just returned home from overseas duty, he or she needs private time alone, with family and with friends. It is so important to respect that fact. Making negative judgments in any public or private manner about the spouse because of this need is extremely devastating to everyone involved.

  6. Neil O'Donnell

    I grew up with many friends in military families. The families that seemed happiest were the ones built upon a marriage where the service member and her/his spouse communicated well. Whether it was writing letters to one another on deployments, winking and smiling every once in a while, or just taking a few moments to talk about each other’s day, the communication element seemed critical.

    1. Communication is essential to the success in any relationship, especially a marriage.

      I think it boils down to always doing the little things, having mutual trust and respect for each other, and keeping the marriage the # 1 priority.

  7. These are very helpful tips, especially for those of use who have military husbands or wives! Understanding and acceptance goes hand in hand and is a huge part of maintaining a healthy marriage. It’s the little things that can help carry your relationship. Don’t take small things for granted, like the time you spend on Skype or whatever your case may be!

    1. Don’t take small things for granted! That is so true. We often don’t know what we have until it’s gone.

      The little things do make all of the difference.


  8. Having a support system, no matter how far away, can be the most helpful and inspiring thing any person can carry with them in day to day life, be they a soldier or not. I would imagine it can be extremely difficult to maintain happiness from so far away, but it’s nice to read some positive advice on how to do it.

    1. Having a support group is a great way to keep a marriage healthy during a deployment. In most cases, the deployed Soldier has a good support group with his/her friends in the unit. Normally, it’s the spouse at home that really needs the support and encouragement.

      I’ve found that families can help out a lot during a deployment. You could have your parents or in-laws help out. Additionally, the Family Support Group is a great resource. If the at home spouse needs extra help, there are plenty of resources and people available. All they have to do is ask.


  9. I’ve always found that writing letters, such as love letters, to each other can have a positive impact in a marriage. A couple times a year my husband gives me a love letter and it always warms my heart. It’s so much more personal than saying it in person or writing it in an email. If you haven’t written your spouse a love letter lately, you should try it sometime. It will have a positive impact in your marriage.


    1. Thanks for the comment Sheila.

      While I was deployed for 16 months I wrote my wife a love letter every single day. She really enjoyed that, even more than the phone calls and emails. There’s something magical about hand written letters that can really bring two people closer, especially in today’s world.


  10. Hey Lisa–thank you for your comment. My husband and I have certainly had our own bumps along the way, and any relationship takes work and understanding. Though it seems there could be more of and a different type of stress surrounding a military marriage, I hope any marriage utilizes these basic tips (which go a long way!) as a foundation for a happy marriage–in the military life or civilian life. Thanks again!

  11. Lauren, I have to say … these aren’t just tips for a happy and successful military marriage; they are tips for a happy and successful marriage, period. Support, love, patience and understanding are essential. My husband and I have hit the occasional bump in our marriage (fortunately, it is less and less frequent, and never the ‘faithfulness’ thing), and it usually was a result of one or the other of us neglecting one of these fronts. Thank you for the words of wisdom, and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    1. I agree with you, Lisa. Lauren’s tips for a strong and healthy military marriage apply to ALL of us. I think everyone could learn something from this article. Thanks for the comment.

    2. I always found that cooking together (as a husband and wife) can have a great impact in a marriage or relationship. Whenever two people do something together it builds a strong bound between them.


      1. So true Helene. Cooking is a great way to connect with your military spouse and it’s a great way to keep a marriage strong. You can spend time together, build good memories and enjoy a good meal in the process.


  12. Lauren – You hit the nail on the head with these. I survived one deployment and we were only engaged at the time. Our goal going in was to be as supportive as possible to each other during a difficult time. Many people deployed with my husband were not faithful (on both the deployment and the at-home side). It was heartbreaking to witness, but truly proved to us that we could survive anything.

    1. Thanks for the comment Rachel. Managing a relationship while deployed, whether the couple is married or not, is very tough. Both people have to be committed to the process. I’m glad you were so supportive during my deployment.

  13. Another great post, Lauren. Taking the good with the bad is vital. No relationship is easy or smooth all of the time. People have to have realistic expectations and realize that nothing worth accomplishing is easy.

    I would also like to chime in and add another tip. That tip would be communication. The have an effective relationship, both partners must have effective communication. They have to share their feelings and thoughts and listen to their partner’s feelings and thoughts. Poor communication is one of the primary reasons of failed relationships.

    Thanks for the guest post.

    1. Whenever my wife and I have marriage trouble we sit down, look each other in the eyes, and pour our hearts out. It’s a great way to reconnect and let the other person know exactly what we are feeling and thinking. I believe your marriage advice applies to anyone, not just military families.


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