Sustaining a marriage with deployments

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- A good marriage requires dedication, love, understanding and togetherness. My marriage involves two career-oriented individuals, and my husband and I are rarely in the same spot for more than a few days at a time. It's still a good marriage, just unorthodox as far as societal standards are concerned.

In the year we've been married, we've spent less than three months in each other's presence and we couldn't be more in love. We know this is far from ideal, and we acknowledge the odds are against us.

Needless to say, we are not deterred. I met my husband a few weeks after arriving at my first duty station. We had an instant connection, and I fell in love, certain I would one day marry him.

However, less than two months into dating he received deployment orders, and we would be pulled apart, for more time than we'd been together. I was undeterred by the separation and when he returned, our bond grew strong once again. A few months later he asked me to marry him.

Fast forward a year, we've been married for ten months, and have been in the same place for less than three of those months. We knew going into our marriage that another deployment and a few TDYs were coming up in the months following our nuptials, but that was okay.

If our honeymoon fell on our first anniversary it would still mean time together and that is what ultimately counts. Though it may sound as if everything is perfect all the time and our relationship is a perpetual honeymoon, I can promise you, it isn't. We are like every other couple, trading and negotiating about chores and purchases.

We've bickered, we've reconciled. The only real difference lies in the distance that often separates us. So what makes our marriage work? Strong communication has been the keystone.

Cherishing the time we spend together and not taking advantage of the other person is important. Also, though it may seem silly, remembering why we fell in love in the first place has been my secret weapon throughout the long months apart.

Whenever I feel discouraged, I think of my husband's smile, and I can't help the one that spreads across my face. It's easy in today's society to give up on marriage.

According to the American Psychological Association, 90 percent of people in Western society marry by the age of 50. However, 40 to 50 percent of those marriages will end in divorce.

Drive down I-70 and you'll pass more than a few billboards advertising divorce lawyers. If either of us gave up, said it was too hard to spend the months apart, society would be indifferent.

My husband and I have very different beliefs when it comes to a variety of topics, but we do agree on the sanctity of marriage. So here we are, a few weeks shy of our first anniversary as a married couple.

The future is uncertain, but promising. Our drive is our respective careers.

We acknowledge that we're going against the grain, know the odds are stacked against us, but we're in love and we're determined to stand the test of not just distance but time.