If you want to serve in the military and stay married at the same time, you had better find yourself a damn special woman.
There are few things in the universe that are more difficult than being a military spouse. Deployments are long, and they just keep getting longer. During that time, they are basically single parents, which is incredibly difficult by itself. In addition, there’s the constant worrying about whether we’re safe or not and what we’re doing. Even when we’re “home,” we’re rarely at the house. There are always duties and trainings that can keep us away for weeks at a time. The hours are rarely great, and even on the days where we get to spend the night at home, that may be about all we get to do. It’s also incredibly tough to hold down a steady job when you’re being forced to move every 2 years or so. Being a military wife (or husband) is incredibly difficult.
I was fortunate enough to find an incredibly special woman who willingly stepped into that role, and I have never regretted it for a day. She married me with the full knowledge of what she was getting into, and she did it with a smile on her face. She is my perfect complement in every possible way. She’s strong when I’m not and calm when I need her to be. She is absolutely my soul mate.
Now, why did I decide to bring this up today, January 3rd. It’s because this is our anniversary. 8 years ago today, we were married in a small town north of Kansas City in the middle of a freak ice storm. The ceremony itself was pretty quick and to the point (I think it clocked in around 17 minutes), but the reception rolled long into the night. She got pretty sick that night, and we both just about fell asleep in the limo on the way to the hotel.
Since then, she’s stuck by me through thick and thin. When I was just a college student living off my G.I. Bill, and we had to balance the checkbook if we wanted to buy a new CD, she was there. When I was travelling down a very self-destructive path, she was there to straighten me out. If it weren’t for her, it’s entirely possible that I would have been kicked out of the Navy long ago.
Since we’ve been married, I’ve deployed 3 times and had hundreds of smaller underways. I’ve missed more holidays and birthdays than I care to remember. I wasn’t even there when our daughter was born. Through all of this, she has kept the family together, and not just surviving, but thriving. While it has taken a lot of hard work over the years, this family is in great shape and in an awesome place. At least 95% of the credit for that has to go towards my wife. She is the rock upon which this family is built. I am as much in love with her today as I was on our first date (and yes, I did fall in love with her on our first date).
There’s one more feature of our relationship that I want to stress for a couple reasons. First, it’s an incredibly important thing that has made everything easier than it probably should be. Second, I’m afraid that it might be a fairly rare occurrence. My wife is absolutely, without a doubt, my best friend. It’s hard to explain how important this is. As often as we are forced to move, most acquaintances are measured in months. Friendships either become long distance or disappear entirely in pretty short order. Knowing that no matter where you go, you’re best friend is coming with you is awesome. We can (and do) talk about anything. We share everything and trust each other implicitly. We truly do have something special, and I am eternally grateful for it.
With that, I just wanted to say, “Happy Anniversary, babe. It’s been an amazing 8 years, and I can’t wait for the next 60. I love you.”