Togetherness in Marriage

456283_1280x720Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.” – Mark 10:7-8

My wife and I have been married 18 years this year. Usually, being married implies some form of togetherness. However, togetherness has been one of the most elusive acts of our marriage.

After seminary, I headed off for a deployment. My second deployment but as a married man it was a first time experience for our young and growing family.

We moved to Fort Stewart, Georgia and the Marne train quickly swept me away.

  • First unit six months with one month of training
  • Second unit four years, two deployments, one training rotation
  • While deployed, I received an RFO for Germany to PCS in summer of ’08. We redeployed in April ‘08

Once in Germany, where I had been assured I would be able to “take a knee”, it was non-stop Garrison operations with almost every unit in our foot print either deploying or redeploying. I averaged 25 counseling sessions a week.

My first date 2003 with my wife and during all of this came in 2010. My denomination held its annual conference at Interlaken Switzerland. For one full week, Ashley and I were able to enjoy each other’s company, our kids, and friends we had known for years. However, the last sentence is an over statement because I never had an opportunity to process the deployments and it was showing in my marriage, with my kids, and my personal behavior. We went seven years without so much as a date.

I PCSd in May 2011. During my time in Germany, I found my long lost brother who had been missing for 37 years and wrote a book about our story. From 2011 to 2015, my family and I moved five times: Germany to Fort Jackson; Fort Jackson to Fort Riley (plus my fourth deployment); Fort Riley to Fort Bragg; Fort Bragg to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. When you count them you see four moves but I count the deployment, and one month of in between for the Brigade Course at Fort Jackson as another move.

All of this may seem like a complaint but it is a confession. My wife and I have not truly been together since I arrived at Fort Stewart in 2004. We have learned to manage the madness and try to maximize moments and trust is an absolute for us in the chaos. Our ability to actually start projects together, do things as a family that actually represent meaningful family time, intimacy and romance have all taken a huge hit.

Unfortunately, there is not a shoulder to cry on in the military because if you have been around the military for the last 10-15 years, we have all experienced similar things.

By the way, everything you read above is just the outline of my timeline. It does little to show my wife’s outline and timeline.

godloveAshley is a mother of four daughters. Our older two were born before I came on Active Duty from the Reserves, and the younger two were born in Georgia and before and during deployments. While I was deployed from 2005-2006, she bought us a house in Pooler, Georgia. Our older two were in school and our younger two were a toddler and a baby. Needless to say she had her hands full and had it not been for a supporting on base Chapel community and a supportive civilian church off base, I am not sure how she would have fared. Ashley planned and drove numerous times from Fort Stewart, Georgia to Mobile, Alabama to visit friends and family while I was deployed and not just from 2005-2006 but my follow on deployment from January 2007-April 2008.

When I returned she managed the rental of our home and secured a property manager that has been a God send. Only in Germany one week, Ashley collapsed and needed an emergency appendectomy. Our younger two were approaching school age and our younger two ran into DODEA school issues big time. As a result, we made a decision to Home School. It was something we had not considered previously but with the condition and questionable nature of things being taught in Germany, we felt we had no choice.

Now my oldest is 16, in a great high school here in Washington State, my second daughter will join her next year and my wife will continue to Home School the younger two until they reach high school age.

All four girls have gymnastics twice a week, Ashely drives our oldest to school daily and picks her up in the afternoon. All while Home Schooling the others, attending unit and Chaplain Wives functions, and managing the home. Again our ability to actually start projects together, do things as a family that actually represents meaningful family time, intimacy and romance are priorities that are placed on hold due to the rest of life.

Unfortunately, there is not a shoulder to cry on in the military because if you have been around the military for the last 10-15 years and are a service member spouse, we have all experienced similar things.

This particular blog came to mind as I spent the weekend conducting a Single Soldier Retreat four hours away. It was my 211th retreat and my 76th Single Soldier Retreat. That is a lot of weekends. Oh and, I am a Chaplain so I don’t really get Sundays “off” and neither does the family.

Perhaps you have heard the old saying, “Misery loves company”, and in our house this is both true and false at the same time. It is also true that seeing or witnessing others who have it worse off brings a little relief. I bought Ashley the movie Mom’s Night Out for her birthday. We sat down and finally watched it last night. I must admit, that is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen and it was timely. Ashley and I have not laughed that hard at the same thing and at the same time in over a decade.

old-couple-on-beach-001So what is the answer then to togetherness? I guess it is refusing to give up on each other and trusting God’s word. This past Sunday, we found a civilian church in the area. It only took eight months, and five visits of other churches to find one the met on Sunday nights and offered a kid/teen program.

I can still count the number of dates since 2003 on one hand (5) but at least the number is increasing and in greater frequency. Occasionally, Ashely is able to take a mommy day and just go out and do something for herself. Our togetherness requires that both of us continue and consistently move toward each other while knowing and intentionally having God first. As for me and my house, we believe that this is the best way to be one and practice togetherness. That said, we must also be intentional about practicing forgiveness, understanding, love, and mutual respect. Everything else, we trust and leave to God, even with the LTC’s course and furthering education in my future and a driving teen on the horizon.

Only God can truly bring couples together and do so appropriately and healthily.

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.