Beyond the Arch of Swords: Making Military Marriage LastWritten by Barbara Eastom Bates
Melissa Wallace of Camp Pendleton, California is a tall, wispy woman, with a soft voice and gentle smile. The wife of 25-years to a Sgt. Maj. in Marine Corps, Melissa and her husband John talk wistfully about life that is soon to be behind them, as Sgt. Maj. Wallace prepares for retirement. Melissa and John were married in 1976. Several years later, following birth of their first son, John enlisted in Marine Corps in hopes of finding a better life for his young family. Together Wallace’s have seen four states, two countries and added three more sons to their family. They have survived two overseas tours, one that was unaccompanied, and an average of three deployments a year for last 20 years. They celebrated their silver anniversary this past fall. There is no doubt that Melissa and John have faced challenges that have crumbled lesser marriages. Yet, looking at them today, there is no doubt they are as much in love as day they married.
Melissa reflects, “Throughout John’s service to Corps, I’ve often been asked what it’s like to be married in military. At first thought, I’d reply that marriage is marriage no matter circumstances. But to say so would deny all positive effects military has had on our life together, and there have been many. Marriage in military is tough. It is full of every challenge and adversity you could imagine. Yet, it’s those challenges that make us stronger and ultimately make our marriage better.”
Emily Travis can relate to challenges. A new bride of military, Emily and her husband Todd are currently undergoing a six-month separation, just two months on heels of their nuptials. Emily is 20-years old and away from home for first time in her life while her husband, Naval Petty Officer Travis, is “on a big, gray boat, oceans away.”
“I miss him dearly,” muses Emily, “but I try not to dwell on that. I wouldn’t have chosen to have my husband away from me, but since he is, I’m taking this as an opportunity to show Todd strength of my love for him. It takes real effort to nurture a relationship like ours, and I feel fortunate to have chance to prove I’ll be here for him no matter what, regardless of how long I have to wait.”
The day-to-day details of marriage military style may vary, but underlying theme is same. Marriage requires commitment, understanding and patience, even under best of circumstances. The demanding circumstances of military life lend even more importance to adhering to these values. Relationship expert Barbara DeAngelis, Ph.D., author of Real Moments, writes, “Marriage is not a noun, it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get, it’s something you do...marriage is not a wedding ring, or a piece of paper that proves you are husband and wife, or a party that says you’ve been married for twenty-five years. Marriage is a behavior—it is how you love and honor your partner every day…it is a choice you make, not just on your wedding day, but over and over again, and that choice is reflected in way you treat your husband or wife.”
Melissa Wallace shares a tradition that she and her husband used during deployments and other separations to enrich their marriage. “We kept individual journals all time. The journals were written for each other and were like one big, long letter of all our hopes and fears and feelings. Whenever John would go away, we’d exchange them. With these journals, it was almost like we were still together, because we’d share all day-to-day things you miss out on when you’re apart. Not only that, but we always seemed to learn new, special things about one another we wouldn’t have known otherwise. We still cherish these books years later. It’s like a chronicle of how far we’ve come in our marriage.”
The History of PearlsWritten by Brannon Smith
The exact time when pearls entered history books is unknown, as they were discovered long before pen was ever put to paper. 300 B.C. is one of earliest written recordings of pearls. Marco Polo also wrote of pearls in his travels. They were prized for their magnificent beauty and natural allure by royalty and commoners alike. Pearls are most natural of gems as they need no cutting, polishing or other work to bring out hidden brilliance. Except for nucleus implanting, they are totally created by nature and ready to admire right out of oyster.
Pearls pop up in early history as a highly coveted gem, revered by rulers of ancient civilizations of China, India and Rome. According to Xhao Xi Gou, a writer of Sung Period, ancient Chinese “did not value gold or jade, but valued pearls for they were far brighter”. In ancient China, pearls were used not only for adornment, but also as currency. They served to enhance their owner's image, imparting an air of authority and grace.
In Rome, pearls were assigned such tremendous value that entire military campaigns could be financed on sale of a single pearl. The Romans ranked pearls as their most precious commodity. The Romans sent so much gold to India in exchange for pearls that a serious trade imbalance developed and Roman economy weakened significantly. It was only a matter of time before Rome's pearl decadence contributed to decline of Roman Empire.
Ancient Hindu writings refer to pearls as bringing longevity and prosperity. The writings also tell an ancient story of Krishna who brought pearls to give to his daughter as a gift on her wedding day. This Hindu story is one of earliest known accounts of pearls and wedding experience.