When someone enlists into the U.S. Army, they are assigned a battle buddy (BB). What an adorable name for such a huge, and often scary, responsibility! It reminds me of when people say “hubby” or “wifey”; it’s cute, but it doesn’t really convey everything the roll entails. A team, whether it is soldiers in battle or a couple committed in marriage, needs everyone looking out for each other.
Studies show that “the battle buddy system helps reduce stress, teaches teamwork, develops a sense of responsibility for fellow soldiers, and improves safety. It protects soldiers from sexual assault/harassment, discrimination, and reduces the risk of suicide.” It remembers that a soldier is not a machine- he/she is a human with emotional needs. They must go everywhere together, have each other’s backs, and overcome their differences together. But this system is not just implemented once they get to the battle field; a soldier is assigned his or her battle buddy early on in their training. A soldier doesn’t just need someone who is willing to cover them while under heavy fire, they need someone next to them that they can get to know and trust. That trust is built before the battle field; it happens when they need to go to the gym and their BB is their go-to workout partner. It comes when they are having a bad day and they need someone to give them a little grace, or they are homesick and they need a distraction or someone to talk to. The little moments of bonding mean that when the intense trials come, they know they aren’t alone.
The security that the battle buddy system brings truly speaks to the need that every person has to be connected and known. I read a story once of a man in the Armed Forces that planned on committing suicide. When he made the attempt, he found that the firing pin had been removed from his gun. His battle buddy had noticed signs of stress in him earlier that day and chose to remove it. Now, every day that soldier wakes up, he remembers his friend, thankful that he wasn’t left alone in his fight against depression and overwhelming stress.
Marriage creates a similar, and even more intimate opportunity for a person to be truly taken care of. The relationship starts with dating, getting to know each other, and establishing trust. Inevitably, difficult things arise in our lives and if viewed correctly and intentionally maintained, a marriage can act as a safe place and defense system. It gives both parties an ally in times of trouble, a teammate in times of confusion, friend in times of loneliness, a pal in good times, and person to laugh with as you experience life together.
All this being said, marriage is not a cure-all. It’s not a little pill you can take for everything to be perfect. Really, that wouldn’t even be as good as marriage is. Marriage allows two people to grow as individuals and together, and that is truly satisfying. Instead of just pursuing what I want and living in order to make myself happy, I can change another person’s world just by loving them. That is powerful.
My husband loves writing. He journals, takes notes, writes out his ideas and thoughts daily. Yesterday I received an email from him with a link to something very personal that he had typed up. And above the link he had written, “With all my love, I trust you with this. Thank you for always being in it with me. Love, C”. I read that and smiled. It meant the world to me that he would send something so vulnerable to me, that he would trust me with his most inner thoughts and feelings. It is a privilege to be married, but so often we view marriage as just a burden. We can get caught up on being frustrated with our spouse, think only about day-to-day things, only talk to them in passing, but there is power in being part of a team. Our marriages naturally give us a battle buddy, someone to lean on. We will surely face adversity, but eliminating “friendly fire” and instead directing our fight to what the world will throw at us, makes the marriage truly win. I have the image in my mind of two people in a battle, standing back to back, guns ablaze, fighting in unison and protecting each other. That is a powerful image in cinema, and to do that in our marriages has even more impact. Let’s fight for our marriages, not against our spouses. We, our children, our world, will be better off for it!