In just 6 days, my husband and I will be celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago and in other ways it seems like a few weeks ago. I am not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you that it has been 19 years of wedded bliss. I can’t say that, and I believe that anyone that does is either lying to themselves or to you. No marriage is absolutely perfect. No marriage is without arguments and struggles. While I cannot say that the past 19 years have been absolutely perfect, I can say that I would do it all over again, including all the heartache and struggles. Those things have made me who I am now, and I am sure that my husband would say the same thing. I think we could both say of each other that we are very different people than we were 19 years ago. I know I was a young, naïve, skinny little thing who had no clue what military life was all about. I had dreams about the perfect little family with the perfect house. I had dreams that I was going to change the world as a beloved teacher who was making a difference in the lives of children with special needs. The perfect life. While I did get the family and the house, and I think I made a difference in the lives of many kids, none of it was perfect. None of it was without struggle. My image of perfect didn’t really exist. It wasn’t realistic. I am not telling you that I have had a bad life or a bad marriage by any means. In fact, I would say that my marriage is pretty darn good. It’s just not picture perfect all the time, and I no longer want it to be.
Marriage is hard in general, but throw in military life and it is even harder. Military life adds a whole aspect to your marriage that those that aren’t military would never understand. I can assure you, your husband’s traveling doesn’t compare! You can never fully understand unless you have lived it, and I don’t even think I could adequately explain it. If I were to add up all of the days that my husband has been deployed, I would not be exaggerating to say that he has been gone for at least half of our marriage. He has missed so many things, and I know that weighs heavily on him. It has changed us both. People tell me all the time, that I am so strong and that they don’t know how I do it. I am strong when I have to be, but all those people didn’t see what happened when I was in my room all those nights feeling a deep loneliness and the weight of the world crushing my shoulders knowing that I had to get up the next morning and brave it all again alone. It was hard, and no amount of strength could have made it any easier for either of us. One of the hardest days of my life and my husband’s was a day when we should have both been rejoicing. It was the day our youngest daughter was born. He wasn’t there. He was deployed and unable to come home. By some miracle, he happened to be pulled into a port that day, so he did get to talk to me on the phone that day and knew that she had been born and she and I were fine. He literally went back to sea minutes after she was born, and we didn’t have any communication with him again for 6 weeks. I can only imagine what torment that was for him. I know how hard it was for me, but I know it was even worse for him. He didn’t get to meet our daughter until she was 3 months old. I know that is something that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Another struggle that military life brought was having to learn to live with and share life with each other over and over again. There was always a learning curve adjusting to life together and apart every single time he left and every single time he came home. It wasn’t easy. I can go on and on about the struggles of military life, but that isn’t what is important. What is important is that it was hard. It did affect our marriage and who we were as individuals and together.
Yes, I could say that I would have rather not have experienced any of that, but that’s not entirely true. I proved to myself that I could do hard things. I had strength that I never knew existed inside me. It forced me to step way out of my comfort zone over and over again. It shaped me into the person that I am now. That person is someone that I am proud of, someone I want my girls to look up to. That young, naïve girl from 19 years ago is gone. In her place is a woman who loves her husband more than anything in the world, knows that life isn’t perfect, has strength beyond measure, has fought her way through the tough times, and has dreams that are far bigger than anything she could have imagined years ago. No my marriage isn’t perfect. We fight, we argue, and we even dislike each other sometimes; but none of that matters. At the end of the day he is my person and I am his. We love each other beyond comprehension, and we will continue to grow and change together through whatever life throws us until we are both no longer here on this Earth. Then we will spend eternity together in heaven where we will walk hand in hand along those golden roads. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true. We joined together as one that day 19 years ago, and we will stay that way forever. As I look back over the years, I see lots of struggles and hard days, but I also see so many days of happiness, love, and pure joy. I don’t want to erase any of them. I want to hold them all tightly in my heart. There is plenty of space left for all the days that are to come, and I can’t wait to see what they hold for us. I have said before that I am perfectly imperfect, and I can totally say the same thing about my marriage. The past 6,933 days have been perfectly imperfect. Here’s to many, many more!
Anchored in love,