Being a military spouse is hard. Really hard. I know this because my mom is one and I grew up watching her gracefully handle deployments while managing the schedules of four active daughters. Even so, I can only speak to what it’s like to be a military spouse as an observer, which is why I’m thrilled to honor these men and women by sharing a few stories from those who have experienced it firsthand. There are three stories included and are told from multiple vantage points – one is written by a spouse (April Faris), one by a retired soldier (John), and two by an active duty soldier (Drew and CJ), one of whom has written what can best be described as an open love letter to his incredible wife (CJ). Before we get into the stories, here’s an introduction from April at The Steadfast Reader, who has simultaneously worn the uniform while supporting her husband in his.
Introduction from April at The Steadfast Reader
When a married couple chooses to serve together it can present special challenges. I married my husband in the twilight of his military career, so we never had to endure the special sacrifice that comes with long deployments to hostile areas. While we suffered through separation of living in different states during our engagement there was no excessive worry about the safety of the other. During my tenure in the Air Force I spent time working as the unit deployment manager, it was my job to find the best-trained and most suitable individual to fill a deployment tasking. So I was the first person someone came to plead with when they had personal reasons for not wanting to fill the tasking. I was often the person who received phone calls from angry spouses, who were pregnant with no family nearby or maybe the deployment meant the military member was going to miss Christmas. The job of a military spouse has never been easy, nor will it ever be. But with service comes great satisfaction and pride, knowing that we have stood up and willingly put our country before ourselves, before our families, and before our children, at least for a moment in time. The cliché is that being a military spouse is the hardest job in the military. Sometimes the thing about clichés is that they’re true.
Tom and April Faris
“My husband is SPC Tom Faris of the MA Army National Guard and is currently on active duty about to be deployed to Afghanistan. We met in 2007 on match.com before he was in the military so I have been along for this journey since day 1. I love being an Army wife because I have been able to connect with so many other people and found out who I am through it. I have found out how strong I am and I love being able to support my hero as he fulfills his duty to our great country. My husband and I are closer than ever because we appreciate each other more and found that it’s the little things in life that mean the most. We just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary (he left a week before it) and I look forward to many more!”
John and Mary
Drew and Michelle
Drew: “When I came back from the invasion of Iraq, she was waiting for me to start our journey together. We married, had children, both suffered through another deployment and had more children. My service connected issues are few but damaging. It has been a trial for me and a burden for her. She is the rock, my safe harbor. She waited for me, improved my life, pushed me to become better. She pushed for better treatment for me. She helped me in so many ways I never thought possible. She means the world to me and without her, I don’t even think I would be alive today. She is my hope. She is my center. She is my sun, moon and stars.”
CJ and Jennifer
To begin I want to say that I have never done one of these. Ive never been a Blogger or written to a website and have never had an urge to do something like it; so when I was told about the Military spouse appreciation day and asked if I wanted to contribute and say why I love my wife, I had no intentions to do so. I had just returned home from a 4 day training event and just wanted to sit down in my house and relax with my wife and newborn son. While holding my son and changing him (the first time in four days) I looked over at my wife and thought about how much she means to me, how hard she works as a first year teacher and a mother of a newborn, how much she sacrifices for this family, I realized that it wasn’t an option. This is something that I wanted to do.
I am not a person who shows his emotions. With 16 years of service and 5 deployments, I have learned that emotions need to be held in check to accomplish the mission. My wife knows this, but I can be hard for her to deal with sometimes, especially when shes talking about her day or something shes excited about. I figured that in writing this, I can show her how much I care for her so let me just get down to it.
My wife and I met about 4 months before my third deployment. Things were great but a new relationship while deployed is a very hard thing, especially for the person left at home. I left not knowing if we would continue our relationship. I knew I loved her even in that short time but deployments can push people apart. Little did I know and 3 deployments later, this was just the start of our journey together.
Jennifer is my rock. When things did not go well overseas she was always there for me. I didn’t speak about things much when I had time to speak, but she always listened, encouraging me and my men by sending care packages and lifting the spirits of my family and friends left at home. She took my daughter in as her own, loving her unconditionally as I love her. She formed a bond with her and took her over the summers while I was deployed, playing games and going on vacations all while working a few crap jobs and supporting us back at home. I cannot begin to thank her for this and tell her how she makes our family tick.
When I am working 6-7 days a week with long hours, Jen makes sure the house is always clean. She gets up for nightly bottle feedings, brings our son to daycare and then goes to work as a teacher. After her long day she then picks our son up and then goes home to cook and clean. When I get home, she makes it a point to stop what shes doing just to tell me how much she loves me and asks how my day went. This is the happiest part of each and every one of my days. My rock, the woman who gives more of herself than anyone I know, finds time for an us moment each and every day. This is a quick list on just a few of the many reasons I love her.
- She loves me
- She is the most caring giving woman I have ever met
- She can deal with my crap (Not an easy thing for people that know me)
- She is an excellent mother
- She has a great sense of humor
- She make me happy every time I see her, even when Im pissed off
- She is beautiful
- She is a great friend
- She doesn’t complain when I need time to myself
- She is a fantastic teacher and mentor for children
- She likes my friends (I think they like her better as well)
- She cleans and cooks even when I offer
- She is extremely grateful if I help around the house (even though it is something I should do)
- She listens to anyones problems and makes them feel better
- The way she sticks her tongue out to the side as shes really concentrating
- The way she does a happy dance when she is excited
- The way she makes me feel loved
- The way she looks at me
- The way she finds time for our family and friends
- The way she holds me
- The way she can deal with my crap (I know I said this before but you gotta know me to get this)
To finish I just want to say I love my wife Jennifer more than can be put into words. I am not a touchy feely guy but when it comes to her and my children, I am the happiest guy on earth. Jen, you are my rock, you are my life. I love you.