November 6, 2023

Navigating Military Life as a Couple with Matthew and Shanon Morris

Soldier Reunited with Wife in Park

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Episode Summary

Welcome back to another episode of The Communicate & Connect Podcast! I’m your host Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky, and today we have a very special episode in store for you. We will be diving deep into the highs and lows of military life as a couple with our guests, Shanon and Matthew Morris. Shanon is a Navy veteran, and Matthew is a former Marine, making them the perfect pair to shed light on this unique and often challenging experience.

In this episode, we’ll discover how they met on a dating app called Bumble and embarked on a first date that lasted for hours, setting the stage for a truly meaningful connection. From there, we’ll explore their whirlwind romance, with an engagement within seven months and a wedding within nine months. But as military life would have it, their journey was filled with various hurdles and hardships, including deployments, a motorcycle accident, and the tough process of going through the medical board and discharging from military service.

As we delve into their story, Matthew and Shanon will share how their military career took an unexpected turn, forcing them to navigate a period of transition together. Alongside this, they also faced other major life changes, like Shanon getting laid off and discovering they were expecting a baby. Throughout it all, they found strength in their motto, “fighting naked,” which encompasses vulnerability, light-heartedness, and the ability to resolve conflicts.

Join us as we explore the lessons they’ve learned along the way, including their advice on effective communication and the importance of aligning core values. Plus, they recommend a fantastic book for couples to spark meaningful conversations about finance, spirituality, and more. So, grab your headphones and get ready for an insightful and uplifting episode on navigating military life as a couple with Shanon and Matthew Morris. Let’s dive in!

About Matthew and Shanon Morris

Shanon (Navy Veteran) and Matthew (Marine Corps Veteran) are the creators of Hop on & Hold on, a platform dedicated to inspiring people to think creatively to build the life they’ve always dreamed of. “Hop on and hold on” is their family motto as their lives have been filled with a number of twists and turns that their only option has been to hop on and hold on. The Hop on & Hold on platform is designed to provide tips and tricks for traveling the world full-time, as well as insights into how to build a successful business while living on the road. You can contact them at hoponandholdon@gmail.com with any questions or comments, or follow them on social media. 

Episode Transcript

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:00:02]
This podcast is sponsored by my counseling practice, Elizabeth Polinsky Counseling, where I offer weekly marriage counseling, weekend long, marriage intensives, and therapist training in emotionally focused couple therapy. To learn more about my marriage counseling services, visit www.elizabethpolinskycounseling.com. You’re listening to episode 44 Navigating Military Life as a Couple with Matthew and Shanon Morris”. Okay, welcome back to the Communicate and Connect podcast for military relationships. I am really excited because we have Matthew and Shanon Morris here today to tell us about how to navigate military life as a couple. So do you guys mind just introducing yourselves a little bit?

Shanon Morris [00:01:08]:
Hi, everyone. I am Shanon Morris. I am Matthew Morris’s wife. So I am actually in a special position where I’m a Navy veteran myself, and Matthew is a former Marine. So we have navigated everything from actually being an active duty couple with him being active duty. I was already out by the time that we got together and also very recently going through his military transition. So we have gone through a lot of ups and downs, even though we were only together for a short time, but really excited to chat through all of the ways that we have navigated just military life, both solo and together.

Matthew Morris [00:01:49]:
And I’m Matthew Morris, Shanon’s husband. Eleven years United States Marine Corps, four years Texas A and M cadet and three years Sea cadets. Left the Marine Corps June of 2023. So as of today, I have been a salty veteran almost three months.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:02:11]:
Yeah, I think my mind is going a couple of places. I’m like, oh, I think it’s so sweet that you’re like, oh, I’m his wife, and, oh, I’m her husband. I just like, you guys said that I’m obviously, like, a hopeless romantic. But my other thought was, like, wow, you guys have a lot of wisdom, I think, to share with the audience, because you have gone through it all, including the transition out of the military, which is amazing.

Shanon Morris [00:02:42]:
Yeah, it’s been a roller coaster ride, that is for sure. So happy to be as candid as we can and answer the hard questions. That’s what we’re here for.

Matthew Morris [00:02:51]:
Yes.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:02:55]:
Well, I’m thinking because I am a hopeless romantic, if you’re open to it, I would love to hear about how you guys met and fell in love. If you’re open to it.

Shanon Morris [00:03:07]
Sure.

Matthew Morris [00:03:11]:
Okay. So I was doing a shark dentistry expedition and was actually pulled out to sea, and Shanon fired the tranquilizer dart that suppressed the shark so that it was actually rescued. And so when they pulled me back into the boat, I said, who in the world did that? She was actually getting off the boat, managed to track her down and said, the least I can do is take you to dinner. And she said, we’ll see. Wait, you want the real story?

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:03:50]:
I was like, that’s the most interesting way of meeting I’ve ever heard, and I hear a lot of love stories.

Shanon Morris [00:03:57]:
I was like, everyone that version. And I think about 75% of people actually believe him.

Matthew Morris [00:04:05]:
Hey, you know what if it ain’t true? You know what I mean?

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:04:11]:
Okay, what’s the real story? Yeah, tell us.

Matthew Morris [00:04:15]:
In all truth, in all facts, we actually connected on Bumble. I don’t know why. In an elapse of judgment, she swiped right on me, but she did, so I took full advantage of that. I had been trying to connect with her in person for a few weeks. A few weeks, which in the world of online dating is decades. Right? And finally we connected over dinner. I said, I think it’d be really great if we caught a sunset.

Shanon Morris [00:04:52]:
Your time management skills were not the best that night.

Matthew Morris [00:04:55]:
At that particular time, I think I had a flat on the motorcycle, and there was a harrell storm, and my dog was sick.

Shanon Morris [00:05:01]:
It was a beautiful evening.

Matthew Morris [00:05:03]:
It was late, and long story short, got to the restaurant later than I had intended to, which gave me the.

Shanon Morris [00:05:12]:
Time to shower because I actually told him, I was like, you want to get together this last minute? This is my only available day. It’s going to be this evening. I’m teaching dance. I’m coming from the gym. You’re going to get a hot mess. But thankfully, his time management skills gave me time to shower, which actually led into a surprisingly like three hour long first date.

Matthew Morris [00:05:35]:
Oh, yeah. Once we were in person, we were sitting down at dinner table together. It flowed so naturally.

Shanon Morris [00:05:47]:
I had no expectations. This was supposed to be my last first date. I was about to delete the app altogether. I was 29, on the brink of turning 30, and I was like, you know what? This isn’t working. For the last few months before I turn 30, I’m just going to delete this and focus on myself. And it was the last first date I ever went on.

Matthew Morris [00:06:07]:
So, yeah, we closed the restaurant down, walked her to her car, and I did not kiss her on the first date because I could sense that if I did, she would pull one of her many self defense items out and wreck that inappropriate behavior. So we connected again a little bit later. That was when we went no, no.

Shanon Morris [00:06:40]:
The third date was before.

Matthew Morris [00:06:41]:
That was it.

Shanon Morris [00:06:42]:
Yeah. The pivotal point for Matthew and all of this was the third date.

Matthew Morris [00:06:48]:
Yeah. So our third date is, everything you’re about to hear is based on true story. This is actually so I I went to a cowboy action shooting match and the next day dropped her grid coordinates to a dirt road intersection in the middle of the Apple Valley desert in Southern California. And she said, okay, I’ll meet you there to go camping. Right? This is a camping trip. This is going to be an overnight camping trip. Hot springs by the river. I was like, she seems pretty tough.

Matthew Morris [00:07:29]:
She might show up. Sure enough, she showed up to a random point in the middle of the.

Shanon Morris [00:07:35]:
Desert with no cell phone service.

Matthew Morris [00:07:36]:
No cell service. The only way you could get to this point was what you had to use pictures, like screenshots from the Google map. Yeah, I pull up, I see her car, I see her there. I’m like, all right, so far, so good. And we get to the campsite, and mind you, this is summer in Southern California on a Sunday night. Sunday night, sunday afternoon. And she pulls out her go bag, like, her backpack, it’s perfectly packed. There’s not a strap loose.

Matthew Morris [00:08:09]:
And she’s like, all right, I’m ready to go. And I said, you don’t need all that. You don’t need to bring all that. You don’t need all that cold weather, camping gear, sleeping bag, no sleeping bag.

Shanon Morris [00:08:19]:
Bring one blanket, fine.

Matthew Morris [00:08:21]:
And she kind of gives me that skeptical look, says, okay, I’ll trust you. Perfect stick true. And so we do the hike. We have a great hike. We get to the spot. The spot actually turns out to be a local hangout for nudists.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:08:45]:
Okay, what an interesting third date already.

Shanon Morris [00:08:52]:
And.

Matthew Morris [00:08:55]:
We get there. We’re not the youngest ones there, but we’re pretty close. We’re pretty close. And the gap between us and the next generation of youngest was at least an entire lifetime up to graduating high school.

Shanon Morris [00:09:16]:
So we get there, we find our.

Matthew Morris [00:09:18]:
Little campsite, we get kind of settled in. We find the hot springs, and then the sun goes down, and the only cold weather gear that we had brought was a hammock to hammock camp in. And two blankies.

Shanon Morris [00:09:35]:
No, one blankie and one tarp.

Matthew Morris [00:09:37]:
Oh, yeah, sorry. That’s right.

Shanon Morris [00:09:39]:
And this is a throw blanket. Like, it barely covers one human on.

Matthew Morris [00:09:43]:
A couch, and it got down to 41 degrees that night.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:09:50]:
Oh, my gosh.

Matthew Morris [00:09:52]:
As we’re shivering in this hammock with a tarp as our only line of defense against the elements, I’m constantly thinking to myself, I’m like, she’s either going to get out of this thing and hike her butt back to the car, and I’m never going to see her again. Those are my first thoughts. Like, she’s just going to leave. She’s just going to stand up, pack her stuff and go. She didn’t. So sun came up. I thought, man, sun’s going to come up. She’s going to thaw out, she’s going to get warm, she’s going to pack all her stuff up, hike out, and go, never see her again.

Matthew Morris [00:10:22]:
She didn’t. She hung out. We defrosted on the sand beach next to the river, ate the sandwiches that she had so diligently and foresightedly packed for us, and then we both hiked out. At no point during the hike did she complain, did she gripe, did she make me carry her gear, did she know this is hard? Nothing. And I thought, Jesus, Gal should have been a Marine. I think I said that at one point. And her comment back to me was, did you say I hate running? Oh, yeah, I hate running. I’m never going to be a Marine.

Matthew Morris [00:11:08]:
I hate running. And I was like, okay, well, that’s fair. And I got in my truck, separate cars. She was driving. I was in my truck on the way home and I called my sister. My sister is kind of my go to for real important life things. And I said, hey, something about this person is different and you’re going to meet her when I come to Portland eventually because my sister lived in Portland. Your parents were planning a trip to Portland? I don’t even think we knew about that at that point, but yeah, I don’t know if it was fall in love at that point, but something changed.

Matthew Morris [00:12:01]:
She did something to me, right? She messed in my nest. She got in my head.

Shanon Morris [00:12:07]:
And then he locked it down. Like the next week, within the week, he sat me down in his truck and he was like, I deleted all of my dating apps. I told everybody that I was talking to that I am done. I want to give this a shot. I said I was about to leave you, but that’s cool. And within nine months, within seven months we were engaged and nine months we were married. And now we’ve got a baby on the way.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:12:40]:
Oh, congratulations. Okay, well, I’m hearing that something really drew you together to even go like 3 hours and close down the restaurant on the first date. I’ve had plenty of first dates where I was like, God, get me out of here in five minutes. So that sounds like a really strong positive sign. And then it sounds like this camping trip meant a lot to you, Matthew, that it was one of the defining moments of like, this relationship has a lot of strong potential. So you guys stayed together and then you’ve gone through all of these things as a military couple together since then. So tell us a little bit about what has been some of the larger challenging spots for the two of you as navigating military life. Where was it challenging and then how did you handle those?

Shanon Morris [00:13:43]:
Yeah, so we have basically been through the gamut of mental roller coasters when it comes to military life. A lot of this is from my perspective because I had already been out for four years, four and a half years, by the time Matthew came back into my life and I was done. I was so far out of being anywhere connected to the military that I never saw myself going back in, much less as a spouse at any point. So the first roller coaster was, oh, my gosh, I have to go back into this and deal with somebody else. Kind of dictating my life. Well, in the first few months, Matthew had changed commands, so it was kind of all of a sudden, hey, something happened administratively. You’re going to a different command. Once he got to that command, they told him, hey, you’re going to deploy within the next couple of months with a different unit? With a different unit, and he’s going to be gone for half the year.

Shanon Morris [00:14:49]:
I was like, great, this is so early in the relationship. We have to deal with the deployment. Not two weeks into that, Matthew got into a motorcycle accident. That kind of changed. So then it was, hey, we’re going to wait around. You’re not medically fit to deploy. So weeks before he was supposed to go, he got into the accident, and now he’s about to get surgery. Then when we’re going through all of that again, it’s this toggle between, okay, am I going to do skillbridge or am I going to be going through a medical board? Which is actually the way that I went out.

Shanon Morris [00:15:33]:
So I kind of knew what the process was for the Med board. So as Matthew’s going through the Med board, he was actually on leave when we got a phone call. I had picked him up from the airport. We were headed home, and he got a phone call on June 3. That was, hey, by the way, your extension for your medical board got denied. You were out of the Marine Corps on June 1. So this is two days after he had already technically been EAS out of the Marine Corps. So we were thinking at this point he had six more months to go, that he wouldn’t get out until January 2024, which is when we’re expecting our first baby.

Shanon Morris [00:16:16]:
And we had known that I was pregnant for about two weeks at that point, and it was, oh, you’re out of the Marine Corps. You signed your DD 214. Nobody anticipated any of these things happening. So then within the last three months, it’s going through the actual transition, which has included selling all of our worldly possessions and hopping on a plane to Europe and trying to figure out the next step together.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:16:44]:
Yes. I’m hearing that you guys went through so much, and it sounds like it was kind of a compressed period of time, too. Like you went through a lot in a short period of time.

Matthew Morris [00:16:54]:
Yes.

Shanon Morris [00:16:55]:
So even though in our own personal lives, things went fairly quickly in our relationship itself, a lot of it was also out of our control on the career side because within all of this, I was laid off. So I was working for and hiring with Google for a while and thought that, hey, I finally found a career that I liked. I got laid off. Matthew boarded. We found out I was having a baby. He got out of the Marine Corps. So all of the life transitions for us, whether we liked it or not, happened at the same time.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:17:29]:
Yeah. So I’m thinking about the marriage counselor side of me is coming into play right now because life transitions tend to be the most stressful part for any couple. And then when you have military, like, just regular military life, you already have way more life transitions than civilian couples do. And then you guys had back to back to back lots of them kind of, like, hitting you all at once, and I’m just thinking, gosh, that would be so stressful. So how did you you guys are obviously still together. You seem very much in love to me. When I’m, like, I get to look at you, and I get to see your eyes glisten looking at each other. Yeah.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:18:21]:
I could feel the love that you guys have for each other already just from this call. But how did you navigate all of that together so that way you could still be as close and in love as you guys are now?

Matthew Morris [00:18:39]:
I got this one.

Shanon Morris [00:18:40]:
Okay, you got this.

Matthew Morris [00:18:42]:
And I only got this because I’ve listened to Shanon.

Shanon Morris [00:18:48]:
So this is for a lot of help.

Matthew Morris [00:18:49]:
Yes. So when before we had even right as we were talking about the possibility of getting married, Shanon asked me a very point blank question. She said, what does it mean to get married? What does that know? I think I gave her some smart ass remark of, like, it means that we love each other unconditionally for the rest of our lives. And she kind of took me by the shoulders and said, no, Matthew, what is this? What is this legally? What is this spiritually? If you want to go down that route? What does this mean for our families? What does it mean? And we spent a solid month going through, like, looking up, what does it mean to be married in California? What does it mean to be married in Texas? Because I’m Texas native. What does it mean federally? What are all of these legalities that go into signing, basically, contract? It was great because we learned so much about what happens after you say I do.

Shanon Morris [00:20:12]:
We learned what happens if you say I don’t after you say I do.

Matthew Morris [00:20:16]:
Right. People talk about in case you get a divorce document. Prenup. People talk about a prenup. Prenup is so terrible. Well, we actually went through two different prenup exercises because it teaches you what you need to prepare for. And then we went into that stuff, like, what happens if your spouse dies? What’s a will if you still have living parents and siblings? And then we went through multiple professional counselings before we got married and not.

Shanon Morris [00:21:02]:
Mandated by the military.

Matthew Morris [00:21:10]:
Hey, we’re about to get married. Talk us through what it really means. And we had some good guidance from military source. We had good guidance from one of the chaplains, who, although they are a religious provider, they didn’t make it like, they didn’t preach. They said, These are the facts. And then we had counselors completely separated from the military and also a lot.

Shanon Morris [00:21:37]:
Of mentors that we asked of, like, hey, you guys have been married for 30, 40, 50, 60 years. What’s the secret?

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:21:46]:
Yeah.

Shanon Morris [00:21:47]:
Because at this point, we’re both in our want to do it right this time. You see all of the statistics, especially in the military, they’re absolutely atrocious. So if I’m going to sign on the dotted line and we’re going to enter into this partnership, what is it actually going to look like? And what is it besides all of the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony?

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:22:12]:
Yeah. I so appreciate hearing about the intentionality that you both brought to this decision and making sure that you really think through it ahead of time and sort of get prepared for different possibilities ahead of time. I wish every couple would do that.

Matthew Morris [00:22:32]:
Yeah. Having had the opportunity to counsel multiple Marines at multiple phases of their life. Hey, sir, I’m going to get married. Great. Have you talked about no. Do you know her last name?

Shanon Morris [00:22:52]:
No.

Matthew Morris [00:22:53]:
Okay.

Shanon Morris [00:22:54]:
Or seeing all of the you have five kids with how many different women? When I was serving, I think a lot of that part of the military life kind of drew me to the reality of this is modern marriage and this is military marriage. A lot of times, it’s not necessarily the way that you think it is or it’s supposed to be. So if I’m going to be doing this and if we’re entering into a partnership where I’m taking your last name in a world where I don’t have to anymore, I want to know exactly what it is that we’re getting into before we get into it. And all of a sudden, down the line realize, oh, crap, I made a mistake, because we overlooked something or at least something that could have been prevented, because, as you know, life is throwing us curveballs.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:23:39]:
Yeah. So I’m thinking right now so you guys asked a lot of people, professionals and then just people that you trusted, like, what’s the secret? What was kind of like the overwhelming advice that you got? What is the secret? Okay. Yeah. Tell me. You’re pulling on your shirt. He’s wearing a shirt for the people who can’t see it. Tell us about this shirt that you’re all right.

Shanon Morris [00:24:06]:
One we’re glad you’re finally.

Matthew Morris [00:24:11]:
Yeah. What Shanon didn’t know was I was actually the vice president of that nudist colony. Just kidding. Just kidding. I was only the treasurer. No. So what I’m wearing right now is a shirt that says fight naked. And that piece of advice was given to us by one of our mentor, cowboy action shooters named Scarlett Darling.

Matthew Morris [00:24:37]:
And at that point, we had probably talked to at least 50 different couples.

Shanon Morris [00:24:46]:
Like, all stages from just freshly dating to 60 years married.

Matthew Morris [00:24:51]:
Yeah. Again, reiterate that we had people in the sport that we participate in that have been married over 60 years to the same person.

Shanon Morris [00:25:04]:
Well, even our families, our parents, we asked them, and they’ve both been 30 some and 40 years together.

Matthew Morris [00:25:11]:
We’ll come back to our folks here in just a second. But anyway, my shirt says Fight naked. And that was kind of a cajoling joke that she had put onto us, and we laughed and walked away. But the point to that is you’re going to fight, right? Make no mistake, as instagram worthy as we look, we butt heads, right? Since we started this trip, Shanon and I, in less than a month, have gone over 25,000 miles together. It including 11,000 miles on a road trip around North America with just the two of us. With just us and my truck. Okay? We didn’t kill each other. We didn’t attempt to kill each other.

Matthew Morris [00:26:11]:
By the way, attempted murder is still bad, right? If you’re bad at killing, it still counts. Okay? But the point to that is you’re going to fight. You’re going to disagree, you’re going to butt heads. You’re going to be passive aggressive and not necessarily know it if you can take that opportunity when you start feeling the tension rise. And I don’t care if you’re military, I don’t care if you’ve been married or dating a month or six months or whatever, that little element of, hey, this is your significant other. You can fight naked, and it’s a lot harder to be mad at. What did I say? It’s a lot harder to be mad when you’re arguing with a set of perfect business, right? So take that as you will. Interpret that however you want to, but the point is, this is your person.

Matthew Morris [00:27:14]:
This is your significant other.

Shanon Morris [00:27:16]:
Or the other interpretation of this is more on the hey, make light of the situations that you’re going to be in because everybody that we asked had very differing opinions from do things together, do things apart, spend time together, spend time apart. But everybody kind of went back to the fight naked piece of advice because nobody disagreed on that. So that has since been our tagline and motto along with hop on and hold on because life is going to throw you a ton of lemons. So what are you going to do? Just hop on and hold on to one another and get through it as a pair instead of trying to focus energy on one person at a time? Hello.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:28:00]:
Yeah. So I’m really liking this, and I’m thinking maybe this is part of what I help people do in couples counseling, but emotionally, can we fight in an emotionally naked way where we’re vulnerable to each other? But I could see how being physically naked automatically just increases that vulnerability. Like, if I’m having a hard time setting down my anger to have this conversation in an emotionally vulnerable way, that fighting physically naked would actually put us already in that vulnerable spot.

Shanon Morris [00:28:41]:
Yeah. And the way that you said it too is perfect. Emotionally naked. Take down all of the barriers because this is your person. You’ve chosen to go through it with them. The only way you’re actually going to be able to get anywhere in a conversation, good or bad, is if you are as vulnerable as you were on the day that you got married.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:29:03]:
Oh, I like that. I don’t know that just touched home when you said it. As vulnerable as you are on the day you get married. Yeah. And then so then the second piece is hop on. Hold on. I’m hearing fight naked and hop on. Hold on as like the two key pieces here.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:29:24]:
Yeah.

Matthew Morris [00:29:26]:
And by the way, I love y’all’s version and that’s beautiful. That is a perfect of man brain and woman brain. Hey, this is great. Emotionally naked. Nah. Take your clothes off.

Shanon Morris [00:29:42]:
Okay.

Matthew Morris [00:29:43]:
Ever works. This is teamwork. This is why there is this is why. Yes. There you go. So hop on and hold on was my smart ass phrase that I told Shanon when we very first got together. I said I move at 110 miles a minute. If you have any desire to date me, you are going to have to hop on and hold on.

Matthew Morris [00:30:05]:
To which she replied, leaning back in her chair, raising an eyebrow, saying what did you say bit? Yeah, she saw through that one like thin soup. But what that has manifested into now is our primary core value for making this relationship work. Life is going to throw shit at you. I don’t care if you are a military family, if you are a civilian family, if you are flying solo, living that batch life, eventually something is going to come your way. And you either have to hop on and hold on and deal with this thing and make it that 8 seconds or you’re going to get bucked off. And if you’re not ready for that, then landing on your head is going to be really painful.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:31:08]:
Yeah. This is like your analogy is making me think of bull riding which I’m sure is where this comes. Am I’m from Texas too? So a few different. Yeah, I’m from El Paso, Texas, originally.

Matthew Morris [00:31:28]:
You didn’t tell me.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:31:31]:
Mean she wouldn’t have known. It’s not in my email. Signature blog from El Paso, Texas. Originally. Wow. I love these two things that you both are sharing. I’m wondering if you have any other tips. What you’re sharing now sounds really like these two things are really significant.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:31:59]:
But anything else you want to share with military couples who might be listening about how they can try to just stay together and survive military life.

Shanon Morris [00:32:11]:
A book.

Matthew Morris [00:32:13]:
Tell me about the book. You can’t see this. Everybody listening. The name of this book is 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married. And take it with a grain of salt. Some of it is not really applicable.

Shanon Morris [00:32:32]:
Some of it has to do with getting married to somebody who’s currently incarcerated.

Matthew Morris [00:32:36]:
Right? Are you interested in this person because of their status as a felon?

Shanon Morris [00:32:43]:
Not applicable. But anyway, it’s a really fun exercise that we actually did on a lot of date nights. And it’s just a tangible thing that you can go out and get this book and do with your partner whether or not you’re going to get married. If you’re thinking about getting into a serious relationship or just looking for icebreakers, it’s 1001 questions you ask each other these questions. You have no obligation to follow the book to a T. We didn’t. I think we took most of the things pretty sarcastically, but it still triggers some of those important questions that you need to be asking, like finance and spirituality and if you have children, stepchildren and guardianship and all of those things in there for hey, you want to be together long term, revisit this. There’s a reason we have this book with us on our trip is because it had such an impact before we got married, but we’re still reading it after we got married because one, it’s fun, but two, it’s not a one and done.

Shanon Morris [00:33:46]:
Everybody’s values continue to change, and that’s another one of continuing to do different values exercises at each chapter and each turning point in your life to see what do you value as individuals and then also what do you value together as a unit. I think we said this a little bit earlier in the podcast, but we’re approaching life as it’s you and me together. So it’s never going to be, hey, this is just Shanon, or this is just Matthew. It’s always, how do we prioritize the relationship and how do we prioritize the family or the partnership? However you want to look at it. Because the moment we made the decision, at least for us to build this together, it’s, hey, we need to learn how to be partners in almost every single sense of that word. If we’re only focusing on ourselves, which a lot of times one of us just needs to kind of swallow our pride and be like, okay, I’ve been listening a little bit too much to just me and focusing on me. How do we make sure what we’re building and the things that we are maybe sacrificing as individuals are contributing to the life that we want as a.

Matthew Morris [00:34:55]:
Pair.

Shanon Morris [00:34:57]:
Or whatever modern version of that exists out there? You have to do it together.

Matthew Morris [00:35:03]:
You said something earlier that I’m going to cling to for just a second. The modern marriage. Marriage today is not the same as marriage was when our parents got married. My parents have been together for 40 years. Shanon’s parents have been together 36, 34. Okay, so over 70 years of combined marriage experience between two sets of parents. Now, even though what that looks like today is different, the core values are the same, right? Honor your partner. Value their opinion, work through problems with them.

Matthew Morris [00:35:45]:
That’s not going to change. But especially if you are the military family, it’s almost impossible today to be a single income military family, especially if you’re living off base. We can go down the rabbit hole. Real estate. So you have this new energy of the employed or the entrepreneur spouse which take it back 50 years ago it existed, but you heard about it one off. It was very much the exception, not the loop. We are going in a direction now where the spouse is not a stay at home wife all the time. It can be.

Matthew Morris [00:36:35]:
And there is absolutely great value in that if that is the direction you choose to lead your life. But it is becoming more common to see careers in spouses. It’s also becoming less common to see only female spouses. We have that paradigm shift. Now you have female service members with male spouses. My point to all of that is it doesn’t matter where you are in your relationship going through something like this book. Right. And I don’t care if you use this book, pick your own.

Matthew Morris [00:37:11]:
But something that has a long list of questions that talks about everything from are you a saver or are you a spender? Are you a homebody or do you like to go out? Do you like family or do you want to be whatever and check in.

Shanon Morris [00:37:28]:
Consistently.

Matthew Morris [00:37:31]:
And ask those questions. Right. Do it formally have a checklist? Because if you go into something and it says do you prefer to arrive at airports or train stations well ahead of schedule or with minimum time waiting to board? That can be something that drives human beings crazy, right?

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:37:49]:
Yes. That’s good to know. Ahead of time. I could see like if we know that we can maybe prevent a fight.

Matthew Morris [00:37:59]:
And as much traveling as we do, that was definitely a good point to come to terms on.

Shanon Morris [00:38:05]:
Yeah, but we also check on this all the time and I think that’s critical for military families because you are transitioning all of the time. So do the gut check, the health check on the relationship health. Like how is this going? Check in once a week. Make sure, hey, ask your significant other how they’re doing. It’s not all about the military career. It’s also about the spouse career. Are things balanced and level? And if not, what do you need to do to address it and then address it together? Because it’s never the fault and never the responsibility of just one person. But the earlier and I think the more consistently you can think as a unit, the easier it will be to navigate all of the transitions because as we know, military life is going to throw curveballs at you whether you like it or not.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:39:01]:
Yeah, I really like what you were sharing. We need to do it as a unit and we need to think of our marriage. Think of us as a unit and that as you do that, it makes it easier then to address anything that comes up. Yeah, well, I know because I’m looking at this shirt, this fight naked shirt, and I’m thinking, do you guys sell these shirts or tell us a little bit about how people can connect with you, all of this sort of thing.

Shanon Morris [00:39:36]:
So we are actually blogging all of our travels on our website,&nbsp;<a target=”_blank” href=”https://www.hoponandholdon.com/”><strong>www.Hoponandholdon.com</strong></a>. We also have Instagram, YouTube and Facebook Handles, all with the same name. So hop on and hold on spelled out. We have a shop on our website that has these shirts and there’s more to come because the more we travel, the more creative juices I’m getting. So anything that people are requesting like give me an art project and I am more than happy to do it. But the easiest way is Google search, hop on and hold on and find us on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or our website and our blog and just check in and say hi and let us know how everything’s going and if there’s anything that we can do to help. But in the meantime, buy a shirt. It’s really comfortable and it’s 100% cotton and one of my favorite t shirts ever.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:40:31]:
Awesome. Yeah. I’ll include links to the blog into your social media and all of that in the show notes. Any last final thoughts before we end? You don’t have to have them. I just wanted to give you the chance.

Matthew Morris [00:40:54]:
When you’re picking your person, pick someone who is equally yoked. And that is something that my mother made very clear to me because the 50 50 thing is not real. There’s no such marriage is 50 50 for 1% of the whole time. The other 99%, your pendulum is swinging back and forth and at some points it’s going to be 90% one person maybe making the money or working on education or building the brand or building the business and 10% the other person planning the trip, coordinating the logistics, right? It’s the Co and XO, it’s the hammer and anvil. You’ve got one person who’s focused internally so that the other person can be focused externally. At no point in that does that mean that one person is more or less important, because if either side stops, the whole machine crashes. But that is going to EB and flow with that. When those tough admin decisions or the little minutiae decisions, whatever they are, start to pile onto one person, take the time to sit down with that person and go through those little things or those things that don’t feel super important in the moment.

Matthew Morris [00:42:41]:
Go through them with them, sit down beside them and look at the travel plan and help book the hotel rooms, right? Sit down beside them and go through, hey, what restaurant do we want to hit when we are in this city? Because when you make those little decisions together or at least give the input. You don’t just throw it all on one person’s shoulders. It makes both people feel valued. And that feeling of being valued is something that makes the relationship great, but it can also really make one person feel not valued. And as soon as you stop feeling valued in your relationship, that’s when you start doubting the relationship. That’s when you start thinking the person doesn’t value you for your opinion, your skill, your input. So take the time to go through all those little things together and give that input. This is a very recent lesson that I had the opportunity to practice.

Shanon Morris [00:43:51]:
You’ve done great.

Matthew Morris [00:43:53]:
The point to that is that you’re never done bettering your relationship. Right. 20 something thousand miles, and we’re still trying to get better at it. And then over the next 20,000 miles, we’re going to learn more.

Shanon Morris [00:44:10]:
Right?

Matthew Morris [00:44:11]:
So sum up all of that, and you can edit all the other part out to just say this, go through the little things with your person so that when you encounter the big things, you can tackle them a lot easier.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:44:28]:
Yeah, I love that.

Shanon Morris [00:44:30]:
My last thought is, thank you, Liz, for doing this and for putting this together, because I don’t think there’s another podcast out there that really looks at the military couple as a unit because it’s so important to do. That, especially nowadays where there’s a lot of I don’t know if it’s just tension in the identity or middle spouse is trying to get more of a voice out there. But putting the focus on the couple as a whole, I think is extremely important. So we just want to thank you for your time to interview us on your podcast, and also please let us know what your address is so we can send you a little goodie.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:45:10]:
Okay, well, thank you. Yeah, thank you for being on this podcast, and that’s very sweet of you to say, I think. Yeah, I feel very similarly about marriage as what you guys have described. And I didn’t mention it to you guys, but I know I’ve mentioned it on the podcast that I come from a dual military family, like generations of military on both sides and am now a military, but and then used to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs in the role of a trauma therapist. But couple relationships are like, the theme that keeps coming up both from my personal experiences and family members, the difficulty of military life on relationships and when I had more individual therapy clients at the VA, it’s just this is the relationships are the struggle spot. I like doing this podcast to try to help as many couples do this together as possible. Anyway, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Shanon Morris [00:46:18]:
Thank you.

Elizabeth Polinsky [00:46:29]:
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If so, please take a second to go. Rate, review and subscribe so you get all of our future episodes. Make sure to check out the show notes to sign up for our free ten week relationship email course. This email course is really designed for people who are maybe having trouble with communication or connection in their relationship and helping them develop some quick wins right away to start improving it. While I am a therapist, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not considered therapy, and it should also not be a replacement for therapy. If you think you need a professional of any kind, you should definitely go find one. Until next time.

     

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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.

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