On January 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, signed the federal act that formalized the beginning of the national interstate highway system. (http://www.theamericanroadside.com)
This system of highways revolutionized commerce, travel, business, rural and residential development and virtually every aspect of life.
One of the aspects of the interstate system that is most identifiable is the graded interchanges and limited access to the highway itself.
All along the highway are exits. Once we get off on the exit, we leave the highway into another world; a world of options, a world of commerce, a world of confusion, and a world of adventure.
We, as a Brigade and a Division, are about to get off on the next exit. We are leaving the predictable, repetitive, and routine life on the FOB for a new world; a world of options, a world of commerce, a world of confusion, and a world of adventure.
Like getting off the interstate, we have been off into these places before—this is where we come from. Nevertheless, getting off the interstate enters a different world from the interstate.
Over the next four weeks we are going to discuss our Exit Strategies. We are going to discuss how we are going to adapt to life off the FOB.
Tonight, we are going to discuss how we are going to reconnect with our spouses, once we leave the FOB.
The Bible teaches us that the Military marriage is a particularly difficult one.
Deuteronomy 24:5 says
5 “When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken. (Dt 24:5, NKJV)
While, I don’t believe this is written as a specific command, I see it as a contextual command for the people of Israel at that time. It tells us that the Military is a hard life for spouses. It is a no-brainer, but many people go into the Army thinking that everything will be taken care of. That is not always the case.
So, when we go back, I want you to first realize that there are going to be some bumpy roads up ahead. Be ready for them.
First, we need to;
1. Reconnecting Emotionally.
Ephesians 5:33 says–
33 Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph5:33, NKJV)
We need to be people that spend time loving our spouses and taking care of their needs.
Men, we are to love our wives, and women, you are to respect your husbands. We must reconnect in that part of the marriage that will endure through thick and thin, through distance and closeness, through hardship and prosperity—we must reconnect emotionally.
I am reminded of a book about the Great Depression. The author makes this point about the depression:
“It appears to me that our failure was first moral, then financial. Our recovery must be first moral, and then financial.”
(Let’s Start Over Again by Vash Young, 1932)
And the same is true in our troubled marriages. The problem is a moral one, not a institutional problem. The problem is not marriage itself, but that people are refusing to connect emotionally by loving their wives and respecting their husbands.
We need to reconnect emotionally.
Reconnecting emotionally will ensure that your marriage remains stable through the adjustment ahead.
As we reconnect with our families we will encounter adjustments.
We will all encounter adjustments in our Living Arrangements. We have been living in our CHUs with a roommate, walking to chow, walking to Chapel, and going where we please for the most part when ever we feel like it. When you get off the plane, most of that liberty will stop. You will have other people to concern yourself with other activities to be apart of. This will take a toll on your emotional state. You have been making decisions based solely on yourself for a year and the suddenly, you have to consider other people.
We will also encounter Changing Roles and Responsibilities. We have been living, again, mostly concerned about ourselves. Our biggest personal decisions have been “Main Line or Short Order”, “Black socks or Green Socks”, and “DVD or Play Station”. Suddenly, when we get off the plane, we will deal with light bills, food preparation, babysitters, and, in some cases, house selection.
We will also encounter Baggage from Deployment. All of us have gathered a certain amount of baggage while we have been here. Whether it is as simple as bad habits we’ve picked up from eating in the chow hall everyday to more serious Post Traumatic Stress, we have all gathered baggage. We will be carrying this baggage home to an unsuspecting family—who will see a change in us in many different ways. Some of this baggage is harmful and some of it will be truthfully helpful, but it will be there and effect our daily life in different ways.
With those things said, about our adjustment, our changing roles, and our baggage, I want you to notice one very important thing. Your spouse will be encountering the same adjustments. He/She will be dealing with new living arrangements, He/she will be dealing with changing roles, and He/She, whether they know it or not will be dealing with baggage.
Therefore, it is all the more important that each of us prepare ourselves to reconnect with our spouses as we get off the exit.
We must seek to reconnect through effective communication.
We must first seek to listen to our partner. This is the most emphasized part of teaching communication. We hear it in every presentation. And, I will say it is vey important. We need to listen to what our spouse is telling us. We need to here him/ her out in what the concerns are. Listening to gain understanding is vital to communication.
Another area, in communication that is equally important, but often neglected in instruction, is talking. We think we do that well. We think that we have talking down pat—it is the listening that we have problem with. But, yelling is not talking. Belittling by bring up past hurts to gain advantage is not talking. Talking is sharing your feeling with the other person in a constructive manner. Talking is patiently seeking to get your point across, but not necessarily concerned that you will get your way.
That leads to the last element of communication that we are going to cover, which is openness. We need to be open in our talking and we need to be open in our listening. We need to listen to understand and talk to be understood. If we are going to communicate there needs to be a transparency of trust and acceptance between both parties.
We need to listen, talk, and be open. As we do these, our communication with one another will improve and so will the emotional connection between us and our spouses.
Now lets take a minute to discuss
2. Reconnecting Sexually.
I Corinthians 7:1-4 says:
Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me:
It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
(1 Co 7:1-4, NKJV)
Sex is something that is designed by God and something for us to enjoy within the marriage.
However, be ready for changes that have occurred over a year’s time.
These changes lead us to talk about the Myths about sex and redeployment.
The first myth is that “Good Sex will fix the problems.” Good sex is not a cure all to the problems that you are experiencing.
The second myth is that “No sex will fix the problems”. Sometimes when people get back, they just want to focus on the emotional and not the physical. Sometimes they even use the physical as a weapon of negotiation with their spouse. Sex is to be enjoyed, it is a huge part of the relationship. Verse 5 says “Do not deprive one another” of sex, because it is important to the needs of each person.
The third myth says that “Sex will be exactly as it was before deployment.” We have already covered the impact that deployment has had on our emotional side—the same elements that are battling in your emotional reconnection are battling in your physical relationship as well.
And the fourth myth says that “What happened in Iraq will stay in Iraq”. This is a myth that seems to raise its head as people begin to have guilty feelings about sexual activities while deployed.
If you have had sex outside of your marriage while you have been here, whether you admit it or not, you are bringing that home with you. What pornography that you have viewed while you have been here will also follow you home. They will be a present memory that you will have to deal with. And before you go home, you need to deal with this issue. What happened in Iraq, will not stay in Iraq, so take time to deal with it prior to going home.
So how are we going to approach sexuality, in a healthy way, during redeployment.
First of all through Communication.
We need to return communicating with our spouses on every level. As we are communicating, we need to make sexuality part of the discussion. This doesn’t need to be advertised, but it needs to be discussed. You need to talk about how things have changed for you. You need to discuss how things have change for him/her as well. We all need to talk about this vital part of our relationship.
We also need to return with Patience toward our spouse. There are things that have happened that may not surface until the intimate times together. There may be some time of apprehension or anxiety. This is normal and we must be patient with our spouses. It helps, by the way, if we are communicating and knowledgeable of the issues.
And, finally, we need to be flexible. As I have mentioned before there have been changes that occurred while we were gone, some that we won’t be aware of until we get home. Don’t have in your mind planning so firm that you will resent your spouse if they are not carried out. In every area of your relationship, especially this on, of sexuality, be flexible.
In every case, Emphasize the priority of LOVE versus the EXPRESSION of love.
As you return home remember to take the time to reconnect emotionally and sexually, but also spiritual.
We talk a lot about the problems of life and why they exist. We talk about the problems in our marriages and why they exist as well.
Problems of our Marriage occur because of our Sin. All of us are sinners. Sin is anything we think say or do that makes God unhappy.
The punishment of sin is death, which is separation.
When we sin against our wife or husband—whether it is as little as lying, or as drastic as adultery—the result of this sin is separation, in some form or another.
The only way this can be paid for, is for some one to pay the penalty.
Jesus paid that penalty already. We just have to accept it. And when we accept it, we turn from our sin and turn to Jesus and live out hi principles for marriage and life in general.
You can find hope in your marriage through Jesus Christ.
Tonight is an opportunity that you have to accept this and you can d that right where you sit. Simply, accept his payment for your sin. If this is your desire, I will be available after the service to help you begin this journey.
Let us pray.
This sermon was preach at FOB Speicher, Iraq on 3JUL06
All scripture marked NKJV: The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.