The title is a bit intriguing, even for a Memorial Day post, but it is purposeful as you’ll see in this unusually long post. We pray you’ll take the time to read it in its entirety. Today we want to introduce you to a couple who are dear friends. We have known them for years – long before deployment was a word, much less a reality in their marriage.
He is actively serving as a U.S. Army Chaplain and recently returned from a seven month deployment in the Middle East. It was a long time to be apart, but when we asked if they would be willing to share with us how they work at keeping the romance alive during their times apart, we had no idea how richly blessed we would be to hear their story. We believe you will be as well.
Memorial Day is a time to remember our service men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. After reading the following I will no longer think of them individually, but will also remember and pray for the spouse that is waiting for them to come home. Have a safe and enjoyable day, and may you hug your spouse a little tighter – thanking God for their nearness to you today!
Meet Chuck and Celia Williams.
“So how do we keep romance alive as a couple, particularly when we are separated by thousands of miles for 6 months, a year, or greater during deployments? As an Army chaplain and his wife we are both called to a life of ministry in the military with all the luggage that goes with servicing our nation during a time at war. We believe in biblical principles as it relates to the roles of the husband and the wife, and we enjoy God’s grace in abundance in this “war” chapter of our adventure together.
“How do we not let the threats to our marriage during a deployment take their toll? Here are a few thoughts:
“The time to build a romance that will sustain through a deployment starts before a deployment. Celia and I are quite intentional about investing the extra time, quality time that is, to build a marriage of romance. Extra date nights, weekend getaways and even special times of just sitting on the porch together after the house is quiet, where we can focus on each other, affirm our commitments to each other, and be affectionate. Another thing we do together is to build a plan on how we are going to serve one another in our communications and care for each other while apart. Having set times to call each other during the day is important as it nurtures excitement, anticipation and intimacy.
“If you’ve not been romancing each other before the deployment, not only will you have a tougher time keeping the romantic feelings alive during the separation, but you’ve really been missing out on one of the most fun parts of being married now. Plus, allowing your marriage to slip into a routine and complacency can create a breeding ground for selfish thoughts, a “victim” mentality and possibly lead to improper affections elsewhere.
“There’s a t-shirt we’ve seen here around our community. It reads:
“Now that’s funny, and we are! But we see these deployments as a part of God’s plan for us, filled with purpose, and an opportunity for personal and relational maturity. A great sex life must be founded on intimacy, commitment and affection. So if we can’t have the great sex, we now have a wonderful opportunity to build and reinforce those latter qualities of abiding romance. And communication is the premium that must be invested in to foster them. Regular phone calls, romantic cards sent often and regularly, and occasional gift boxes filled with cheap little toys, candies, toiletries, and baked goods. Daily e-mails are great, but Skype is better!!!! Skype is an internet connection with face to face communication via your computers. And be creative with the internet by ordering special gifts and flowers. These are the tangible proofs of affection and attention that can be a great, but temporary, substitute for the real thing. It’s a long-distance hug. Believe me, to a soldier in a war zone or a spouse left home, these are of greater worth than gold.
“Another thought about communications when a husband is in a war zone: Your wife desperately needs your communication. She needs to know her husband is safe. And she needs to hear words of comfort, assurance, and your exhortations for her trust in God. BE the spiritual leader!! Husbands, likewise, need the kind voice of a loving wife, to know he is missed, to stay involved in the daily living and decision-making. We keep the romantic feelings alive with concerted words of devotion, compliments, desire and longing. Some of the best times of communications we’ve had in deployments were expressed in groans, sighs and cries rather than mere words.
“This is the number one way you can serve each other in building and sustaining an abiding romance during a deployment, pray together! I don’t mean just pray for one another. I mean to pray with each other, right there on the phone. Celia and I made the commitment that we would never end a phone call without praying together. We’ve kept that commitment and it has proved to be the utmost blessing for our love, even long after her soldier came home!
“But the best way to think about what to do for the romance in your marriage during extended times apart is to remember what our Lord does for us to build our affections for Him this side of Heaven. After all, marriage is to be an exact reflection of our life in Christ!”
NOTE: Chuck will be leaving on his 3rd deployment in 2012 – this time to Afghanistan for 12 months. Celia will continue to romance him from a distance, as will he. Let’s pray for their marriage, as well as all marriages in the military who are separated during this time. And let’s also pray for God’s strength and sustaining grace as Chuck serves the Lord, our country and his unit (of appx. 450) so faithfully.