How marriages can survive deployment—with some help from the church.
We military wives are proud people, with our camo-print purses, yellow ribbon bumper stickers, and a deep love for our husbands and country. We bristle when warned how military life can deplete a marriage. We'll tell you that our marriages are only strengthened by the moves, distance, and unpredictability of military life.
During the first decade of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though, the military divorce rate climbed gradually every year, from 2.6 percent to 3.7 percent. Not until 2012, as troops began to withdraw, did the divorce rate slip for the first time, down to 3.5 percent. Army officials attribute the decrease to better marriage counseling and support programs.
In Army terms, "Healthy relationships contribute to the maintenance of a healthy Army and a secure future force. With increasing demands placed on soldiers and families, to include both frequent deployments and duty relocations, intimate relationships are fully tested." Sir, yes, sir!
Soldiers train and travel away from home beyond the typical 9 to 5 schedule, gone for up to a year at a time when deployed to the Middle East or on cruise overseas. While apart, their spouses carry the load of household responsibilities and, oftentimes, full childcare duties, along with an additional load of worry, loneliness, and stress.
But a less-discussed challenge—one that churches need to know about—is how deployment can test a couple's faith. While a husband and wife may start off on the same spiritual page, they can't support one another in the same ways during deployment. Many spouses are forced to journey with God alone. And like any challenge, a deployment can either draw military spouses into a closer relationship ...
Shannon Polson sought healing from her father's death by retracing his fatal journey into the Alaskan wilderness.
Before we begin, grab a map. Preferably the paper kind; the old atlas that's been on your shelf for years or the AAA guidebooks your grandmother gave to you. Google Maps will do, in a pinch.
Flip to Alaska. Now look up—up, up, higher up. Do you see Barter Island? Between Barrow (the farthest North American City) and the Canadian border, it sits near the mouth of the several meandering rivers. That is where we are headed.
The journey begins in Kaktovik, Alaska. Perched at the northeastern tip of the state, Kaktovik is the jumping-off point for adventurers rafting down the Hulahula River. It is well within the Arctic Circle, a hauntingly beautiful backdrop for a June river trip, perfect for spotting Dall Sheep and musk ox against the Brooks Range Mountains.
Shannon Huffman Polson is in Kaktovik with her adopted brother Ned and his colleague Sally, preparing to retrace the trip taken a year earlier by her father and stepmother. It will be both tribute and quest: Richard and Kathy Huffman were killed by a grizzly bear before they could finish their expedition.
Polson has returned for "a journey over the jagged edge of loss." Her maps, like ours, can only get her so far. The rest of the way will require courage and commitment over rocky terrain.
"I lived for his attention," Polson writes about her father in North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey. Polson's parents divorced when she was twelve years old, a move that shattered her life and those of her two brothers. Her father remarried several years later and Polson fought Kathy for his time and attention. Above all else, this is a book about fathers and daughters: the trappings of that relationship, the desperate wanting for ...
Examining the lies that sex is worth nothing or sex is worth everything.
Turns out, college isn't as hard to pay for as I previously thought. At least, not if you're a woman and willing to get, shall we say, "creative." According to CNBC, there are plenty of rich dirty old men ("Sugar Daddies") willing to put broke young women ("Sugar Babies") through college in return for what SeekingArrangements.com calls—and trademarks!—"Mutually Beneficial Relationships® & Mutually Beneficial Arrangements™."
I should be aghast that there are Sugar Daddies who advertise for this role ("Will educate for sex!) and that there are Sugar Babies willing to take them up on it ("Will **** for education!"). And yes, I'm troubled by the terminology. I'm horrified by prostitution's continual morphing and the never-ending supply of men willing to prey on desperate women. Yet, there's a part of me that wonders if this disgusting trade actually does something meaningful to counter our prevailing views on the worth of sex.
Bear with me.
In a society polarized over sex, we get fed lies from both sides. We either get told that sex means nothing—that it can be tossed around and given away anonymously because sex itself has no value—or that it means everything—that it is the worst sin, that ill-gotten sex means you or your life has no value.
Consider what Elizabeth Smart recently said in a talk at Johns Hopkins University. Smart, who was raised Mormon, told the panel she "felt so worthless after being raped that she felt unfit to return to her society, which had communicated some hard and fast rules about premarital sexual contact."