My best friend happens to be a United States Marine. He also happens to be loyal, traditional, masculine, adventurous, inquisitive, smart, strong, stubborn, dedicated, sexy and an easygoing man. Oh—and yah—he happens to have been married to me for more than thirteen years! Many wives primarily introduce their husband by identifying his career choice in life; in the military community, identification means clarifying what branch of service he belongs to, position, and rank. I’m just like any of those military wives; proud to be married to an honorable man with strong convictions to serve our country. However, I am proud of introducing my husband for the good man he is. I believe that he has taken from the military and much as he has given of himself. Without arrogance, I sincerely believe that the military is better because of him.
My husband has given sixteen years of his life to the Marine Corps, thus far. Our marriage has endured the stressful long separations required by his career: field trainings, deployments abroad, overnight supervision duties, emergency support obligations, preparation logistics and professional development instructions. When we married, it signified to the world that he found me to be his ideal mate to take on his journey and that I willingly consented to struggle through the challenges alongside him.
The role of a military wife is not for the faint of heart. Not only must we nurture a growing family exclusive to a lifestyle that only two percent of the nation’s population can relate to, we must also withstand the trials of human existence. I have too many stories to share so I will limit it to a season of my life.
Our daughter was born during my husband’s training preparation for deployment, so she basically spent the first seven months of her life without a father at home fulltime. Meanwhile, our son, was battling to understand the absence of his father, unable to really communicate his thoughts and feelings because of limitations caused by Autism. I spent most of those days distracted by my children, praying, reading, exercising to lose the baby fat and writing to my best friend. Unfortunately, during those months, the nightmares of death became a recurrent reality. First, a good Marine friend and previous coworker of my husbands, suffering from PTSD, committed suicide, leaving my friend (stationed across the other side of country) and daughter alone to fend for themselves in a state of shock. In succession, weeks later, news of my husband’s adopted cousin and grandmother’s death was delivered via satellite phone. The early return of hubby’s deployed unit created a short-lived excitement. On the night of my husband’s welcome home return, I had to be the messenger of the worst news possible. No—I hadn’t cheated on him and I wasn’t requesting a divorce, which is a sad common occurrence. Instead, I had to tell my husband that our son was diagnosed, the day before, with leukemia. Our story only gets more difficult from that point forward.
Fast forward two lifetime years later, we are amazed that friends and strangers consider us as role models. Being married to the same person for thirteen years, apparently, is an unusual circumstance. Repeatedly, we have been questioned as to what makes our marriage last and if we have any advice to give for other military marriages. My answers are not popular but they are garnered truths. You are more than welcome to them:
A. The answer always points to God. I am human and I am flawed, so is my husband. Out of all our couple friends, we remain together. The only differing factor is that we put our faith in our God above our faith in ourselves. Seriously, if it was left in my hands, I would have taken the coward way out a long time ago and walked away from everything that would cripple me mentally. Thank God that we are continually moved spiritually. Individually we can stand because of a strong relationship with our Savior and together we are able to build a solid ground for our children.
B. Appreciate the person who is your mate by working hard every day and never taking the relationship for granted. Marriage requires more than the emotion of love; roll up your sleeves and dig deep; show your husband he is worth fighting for and worth working with for the rest of life.