Sacred Spaces Book Review.
Sacred Spaces, by Corie Weathers, is a book that can change your life. She is an Army chaplain’s wife, and the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year. As the Spouse of the Year, she was invited to go on a week-long press visit to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Secretary of Defense. Her intention was to observe the places where the American military has been deploying overseas, and then describe those locations, so that military spouses can have a better sense of the details of deployment. Understanding the realities of deployment life can help us grow closer to our service members. The Sacred Spaces book is the result of that trip. It is an amazing journey that is guaranteed to bring you closer to your military spouse.
Sacred Spaces book describes the realities of deployment life
Corie is a wonderful writer, who places the reader at the heart of the action. What I loved about this book is her ability to reflect upon everything from both a spouse and a service member point of view. Corie, who is a professional counselor, paid attention to her senses during the trip, and was able to relate them to her husband’s memories and stories. She interviewed numerous military members and asked them what they wished they could tell families. They often replied that family members don’t seem to understand the energy—mentally and physically—that their job requires. Corie tries to explain those deployment realities.
- When she traveled in a C-17, she realized her husband (a chaplain) had stood inside that same type of plane to perform the farewell rites over flag-draped coffins.
- When she visited a base near where he had been stationed in Afghanistan, she released her anger over the losses from that deployment. She suddenly understood the emotional exhaustion her husband faced after facing death every day for an entire year.
- At an Afghanistan base, she realized her concept of “bunk beds”, “gravel,” and “comfort food” during deployment were all wrong. Seeing these locations made her husband’s experiences more real.
These rich insights help military spouses at home relate to their service member. Corie was able to visit the sacred spaces of her husband’s deployment, and gain a glimpse into his heart and mind.
What is a ‘sacred space’?
Corie uses this term to describe significant life-changing experiences. In an ideal marriage, the couple will have many shared sacred spaces. During military deployments, however, many of these sacred spaces are experienced separately. During her husband’s Afghanistan deployment, Corie was a grief counselor to the unit’s new widows. She and her husband both faced death and helped people through it, but their experiences were separate. Each one of them changed during the deployment, and couldn’t explain their experiences to their spouse. A sacred space can be positive or negative, but your marriage will be stronger if you and your spouse can find a way to share your sacred spaces with each other.
The Sacred Spaces book strengthens communication because the journey demonstrated a true role reversal between Corie and her husband, Matt. The trip happened during her family’s PCS move, just before Christmas. Her husband was left at home with their 2 sons to enroll them in a new school, handle the move, and decorate for Christmas. How many military wives have been in that situation? Corie described the challenges of being separated from her family during such an important time. She realized that the period just before the departure is stressful because the person leaving wants their spouse’s permission to focus on the mission. As military spouses, we need to “release the service member to the mission” so they can focus on the task ahead. She also realized that having the right gear really does make a difference, and she vowed to never again grumble at the cost. (I need to remember that one!) Meanwhile, the spouse who stays home wants to be trusted to make decisions. Matt was surprised how frustrating it is to be on the receiving end of the communication, and to get phone calls in the middle of the night. He admitted he had trouble focusing on his sons and sticking to a schedule, when he was trying to time his day around a possible Skype call. Military spouses live like this for months at a time! The role reversal was eye-opening for each of them, and can lead you to some great discussions if you read this book with your spouse.
How the Sacred Spaces book can change your marriage
You should definitely share the Sacred Spaces book with your spouse. Corie’s purpose in writing the book is to strengthen military marriages. After years of deployments, many things are left unsaid, and there are many conversations that we avoid. Over the years, our separate “sacred spaces” take up a lot of room in our marriage. By discussing them, we can draw closer to each other. For example, I think that my husband and I have a strong marriage. We are happy with each other. But… after 6 deployments in 15 years of military life, there are a lot of separate sacred spaces between us. I made friends who got me through deployments, yet he never met them. He has lost friends that I hardly knew. He has a date tattooed on his arm, which is the day one of his friends was killed in Iraq. I should probably know more about that. Reading this book helped me realize that we avoid the topic. When I don’t know what to say, I just don’t say anything. Sometimes explaining our experiences to the other person feels like too much work. But it is worth it, if it strengthens our marriage and our love for each other. The book encourages you to be intentional and take the first steps closer to your military spouse. Corie writes, “Even if you can’t understand what is happening in their heart and what they have been through, you can still try. That is what matters, that you try.”
With the word “sacred” in the title, you may think this is a religious book. Not really. It is a book that can be enjoyed and meaningful to anyone. Although Corie and her husband are both Christians, the book is not designed to convert anyone or bang you over the head with chaplain ideas. It isn’t until the last chapter that she starts using some religious language like forgiveness, and suggesting that you could pray together with your spouse. But the overall message is to improve marriage through mutual respect and communication. That’s a message we can all appreciate! So I recommend the book to any military spouse.
Where can you find this amazing book? It will be released on Monday, August 1. Order your copy at this link.
If you liked this Sacred Space book review, you may enjoy some of my others. I review 1 military spouse book each month. Other examples are Tribe and 15 Years of War. Build your library with some great military books!