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By Navy Chaplain Winston Shearin, for LifeLines

Deciding to get married is one of the most important decisions a couple will make together. If one or both of you are facing deployment, you may feel pressure to get married right away, before you are separated. It is never a good idea to rush into a marriage. If your relationship is strong, it will survive a deployment. If your relationship isn’t healthy and happy to begin with, getting married won’t make it better; it will only make matters more complicated.

Before making the decision to get married, take an honest look at yourselves alone and as a couple and talk together about how you see your future. You may want to meet with a chaplain or respected adviser to discuss your thoughts and your plans.
Reasons you may consider before getting married

There are many reasons a couple may want to get married. The trick is to recognize which ones are the right reasons, and which ones are not reason enough to make a lifelong commitment. Marriage may be right for you if

• You can imagine yourself together far into the future.
• You share the same basic values.
• You both feel the same way about having children and agree on how to raise them.
• You feel your partner brings out the best in you, and your partner feels you bring out the best in him or her.
• You respect and appreciate your partner.
• You communicate well with one another.

You should think twice about committing yourself to another person if:

• You are afraid your relationship won't endure deployment. If it won't endure separation, it probably won't last a lifetime.
• You want your significant other to be eligible for military benefits; health care, housing, commissary and exchange - by itself it is not reason enough to enter into a legally binding contract of marriage.
• You think marriage will “change” the other person. Marriage won’t change anything. It may make matters worse by raising expectations for each of you.
Marriage is a commitment that should not be rushed into. It’s always best to hold off until you or your partner returns from a deployment. Then, take an honest look at yourself, your relationship, and what each of you expects from a marriage before deciding whether to get married. Talk with your chaplain or other trusted adviser. If available, attend premarital classes through your community services center. If you go into marriage prepared for the future, you are likely to enjoy a strong and healthy relationship that will last a lifetime.

This article was written with the help of Mary Craig, Marine Corps Family Team Building Program Section Head; Air Force Chaplain Robert Roffman, Lackland AFB, Permanent Party Branch; and Navy Chaplain Winston Shearin, Head, Plans, Logistics and Facilities Branch.


Related Articles: Resources: So you are getting married?

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