Early in my journey as a military wife, I came to realize that my husband loves his country. He has a love for it that most people will never understand. I remember at times thinking that he must love it more then he loves me. Or maybe he doesn’t love it more; maybe it is a different kind of love. It is not the love he feels for me or for our children. I quickly accepted that if I was going to love a man who loves his country that I would spend the majority of my adult life in her shadow. We often get so accustomed to the uniforms, sea bags, separation and welcome home signs in our neighborhoods that we forget exactly what we are a part of. We are married to American heroes. For a large majority of us, this country stole his heart before we did. It is a hard fact to face, but one of the best ones that I ever did. The longer I love him, the more I love him. I realize now that I love him because of his passion to serve, not despite his passion to serve. The love I feel for our great country only grows each time he leaves, knowing that I share a large part of myself with her, and knowing that when she calls, he will always answer. I never asked my husband to choose, not with my words anyway. I have spent plenty of time crying on a pier, my eyes and actions begging him to stay. I have written many letters explaining the pain of him being away. I have navigated my way through Family Grams trying to tell him how I missed him and was anxiously awaiting his return to us. I wasted many 15 minute overseas phone calls sobbing. Was this asking him to choose? I can see now that it was, but it was okay because I wasn’t actually asking, right? WRONG!
I am not sure when it happened, but I finally got it; I understood the way things were. I remember when it was so hard for him to leave me. He was worried about me, the kids, everything. He had to walk away and leave us crying, begging him not go. He would come home telling how he disliked his job and how he hated leaving me. I finally saw it for what it was. He was saying these things to make me feel better, he was trying to protect me. My behavior (even though I thought I was doing well) was not good for either of us.
Now that we are both older and have several good years under our belts, I can tell you that I still don’t know when, where, or why it happened, but it happened. Something opened my eyes to my own reality. I could finally see my husband for who he was. I could see the pride in him, the undying love for his country, for me, and for our children. Most importantly, I could see the difference in these loves! He knew that no matter where duty called him, no matter how long the time or how far the distance that I was strong, I could handle it. I no longer spend my days waiting for his departure or arrival (of course I am still super happy for arrivals!). I no longer feel that I have to wait around and put my life on hold when he is home. We no longer share tearful goodbyes or pleading looks to stay; there are no unspoken words. I am not going to lie: I still enjoy the occasional uncontrollable breakdown and lock myself in the bathroom with a candy bar; but those healthy coping skills are rarely needed anymore! I am happy, he is happy, the kids are happy! What more could you ask for?