Married And Then Some


Over eleven years ago I stood in a chapel wearing a black skirt and white sweater and married a man in dress blues. We were 19 and 21. We were madly in love. We packed up a U-Haul and drove 1000 miles from St. Louis, MO to Charleston, SC where we would live together for the first time. Everything was amazing. We didn’t have furniture, not even a bed. We slept on the floor and couldn’t even afford an air mattress. But it was fine because we were in love.  My parents hated this. They also strongly disliked my husband for taking me away, but again, we didn’t care because we were in love.  Every night was a picnic on the floor and ever day he came home from work was a honeymoon, because we were soo in LOVE!

Fast forward to present day and we have two kids, three dogs, two cars, a mortgage, more stuff than we need and I wanted to throw my shoe at the back of his head today.  I can still picture that adorable couple in Charleston without anything to their name but a futon and a car.  They were contagious.  I love to daydream about that time in our life when nothing was ever a problem and little imaginary hearts danced above or heads.

Today, we are still very much in love, but marriage takes work.

After one of my recent columns, a reader asked how I’m still happily married after reading that my husband has over seven years of straight sea time.  Frankly, at first I laughed out loud and said, “easily he was never home!” I kid, I kid.

I’d be lying if I said we have never gone to bed angry or that we always put each other first. But honestly it is due to our commitment to each other, good communication and sharing an amazing sense of humor. Every couple is different, but I am happy to share what works for us.

We talk constantly, even when he is deployed. Yes, we go for weeks without contact, but if I write an email, it will eventually get to him. If it doesn’t, they are numbered and I print them so that I can send them in a mail drop. My husband does the same and tries to write me every day as well. Sometimes he literally only has time for a sentence that says, “I love you and I miss you”, and that is all I need to get through a day.  I know that may sound silly to some, but Sub wives know how powerful that email can be.  Wives are reading this saying to themselves, “But my husband doesn’t like to write!?” The reason my husband does this is because I asked him to. I know that it is what I need from him to get through a deployment, so he makes sure to find the time.  You have to ask for what you want and need. Your spouse cannot read your mind.

When my husband is home, we take time out of our night to talk. Not just casual talking while we make dinner together and watch the kids play, but sit down time where there are no distractions. Usually this is when the kids are in bed. We curl up in the chairs in our bedroom and go over our day and share a thought or feeling. This is something that isn’t easy to do, but it was suggested to us years ago and it works. We’ve accomplished a lot sitting in those chairs. We made career choices, settled arguments, and just reconnected.

People that know us can tell you we love to laugh.  We are constantly teasing with each other and our sense of humor has made our marriage entertaining to say the least.

We just have fun. A little romance doesn’t hurt either. The husband still opens my car door, holds my hand, and will make me a cup of hot tea without me even asking. I make it a point to stop what I am doing and to say hello when he walks in the door.  It’s sounds small and unnecessary, but try it. It is a conscious effort to put someone else before you. I also like to send him a text or email at work and let him know that I love him and give him a reason to hurry home.

No one has the perfect marriage or life. Things happen. People you love make mistakes and the ones you love the most, can also hurt you the most. I make it a point to tell my husband I love him, even when I don’t like him very much.  God forbid tomorrow doesn’t come, I want him to know that even though he made me upset, I love him with all my heart.

It’s easy to think you’ve fallen out of love or grown apart when those magical first years have passed. So many people think the marriage isn’t good anymore when all it really needs is some work.  For the guys, there is an easy way to understand this. Treat your marriage like the car you’ve always wanted. If you buy a brand new car, it’s amazing just how it is for a while. You don’t have to do anything to enjoy it, but then it requires maintenance to keep it in great condition. If you don’t do the required maintenance, it will eventually fall apart. And if you go out of your way to do a little extra work, you are going to get so much more from it than you gave.

If my husband did the things that bother me now at the beginning of our marriage, I wouldn’t have even noticed. The little hearts dancing around my head would have blocked my view.  Now, I love him more than ever and I have the urge to throw my shoe at him when he tells me he shrunk my favorite cashmere sweater.

Marriage is an ever-changing and evolving partnership. If you are not in a good place now with your spouse, take the time to do some maintenance. Don’t let it fall apart. The Military gives you access to free and amazing services such as your Chaplin, consoler, and many classes offered on the base.  Want to see someone off base? Tricare covers that too. Speak to your local Tricare representative for more information.

Do you have a topic you would like to see discussed in this column? Question or comment? Email Marie at marienangela@mac.com

24 thoughts on “Married And Then Some

  1. @ Jacqueline all I have to say is WOW!!! As a military spouse I can say you have no idea. And Marie is right, nothing we have is free, we pay for it just as a civilian does.
    @ Marie you are amazing and I applaud you for keeping your cool with Jacqueline, I could not do that. And BTW if she cannot stand military spouses why is she even reading your blogs??? Keep doing what you do, I LOVE your posts 🙂

  2. I loved your article and do agree that through time, kids and life all those little sparks can seem to drift some. But like anything else good in life you have to want it and put the work…

  3. This was a wonderful post!

    I do feel that making the best of the time home is important… and a good lesson for ALL spouses, not just military ones. Sometimes, especially as a military spouse, sometimes you only have each other. I agree- just that one line “I love and miss you” is all you need to hear to brighten your day, especially after weeks of no communication at all.

    As for the first commenter… I don’t know if I could have been as nice – I applaud you. We do “pay” for the “privilege” to be a military spouse. In more ways that just so-called “free services”. We pay with the time apart from our spouse (sometimes as long as 18 months and then turn around and do it again after only a few months). We pay with the times they are not around on special occasions more often than they are home. Sometimes we pay with our spouses lives.

  4. I think what Jacqueline was trying to say to us all was THANK YOU…isn’t that right Jacqueline? Thanks to all of our husbands and the wives who support them for fighting for your freedom so you can have the opportunity to speak your mind, have an opinion, have a job, have the option for health care, the opportunity for our children to go to school…all the opportunities that so many others don’t have in this world. I’m pretty sure you meant THANK YOU and not all the other nasty things you said about us. Well, you are welcome. My husband gladly puts his life on the line for you and everyone else everyday…and despite how you feel, he never asks for anything in return or anything for “free.”
    I find it so odd that you think the military “gives” us so much for free….can I tell you about a few of the things that they don’t give us? 1)They never gave me back my amazing career that I used to have before marrying my husband…the career I can no longer continue b/c I have to move every 2 years. 2) They never gave me back all of the birthdays, Christmases, Anniversaries and numerous other holidays that my husband missed out on. 3) They never gave my husband the chance to see the birth of our first child 4) They didn’t give my husband the chance the hold my hand when my dad died…I mean, I could go on and on and on…….But you know what? It’s ok, because we, as military wives, understood what we signed up for. We are tougher and stronger than any women you will ever meet. Regardless of what people like you say Jacqueline, my husband still gets up every day to defend your FREEDOM. And I gladly give up my birthday and Christmas for him to do so. Again, you are welcome!!!

  5. I have loved your columns so much.I grew up in a military family and ended up as a military wife.My step father was in the Navy and my mother is finishing up 21 years in the Coast Guard.Of course I swore I would never marry a military man but love had another idea.My husband just retired after 20 years in the Navy. I have raised 4 children thru all the good and bad and spent half the time rarely seeing my husband. I would not trade one min of it though. As soon as he retired he was home every night and I found a longed for a few quite nights by myself. As much as I love him it has been a hard transtion to doing 90% of everything your self to sharing it. I see us as any non-service couple the only thing that is different is our men choose to put themselves in harms way (alot like police and fire department) to help others.

  6. Christy, Thank you for the comment and yes, I do have a few very large boxes of cards, pictures and letters….I know someday it will be looked back on and I love that. 🙂

  7. I like this blog even more now that you helped educate.

    The blog entry is great! Do you have his emails printed off and saved somewhere in a box? I think my grandkids are going to love finding the box of printed emails that I’ve saved from underways and deployments. They are the modern war love letter. 🙂

  8. I was invited to read this blog through another Military wife that is a very good friend of mine, I am no longer a military wife because my husband has since gotten out of the army but we served 9 years in Texas, he deployed 3 times, I would have to say that Marie you are a very tolerant person, as I read what was commented I was appauled at the ignorance, and it just amazes me that people think that military families have it made, it is sad that more people dont know, yet think they do. I always thought of myself as having to be on my best behavior at all times, because no matter what i had to have one foot in the civilian world where people didnt really understand, and the other foot in the military world where we were expected to be respectful, understanding, and keep the peace, as well as hold down the home, and keep Morale up. Great blog thank you for taking the time to write.

  9. I was going to give you kudos on the article and then the following comment made me say Wow too. So I also give you kudos on your response. As a milspouse myself, I didn’t know those things about our pay but I can say I have never felt they were FREE. Our husbands work HARD for their pay and benefits just like any other civilian can do. I don’t know any wife that could think this life is glamorous. There is so many things I could say about this but to keep it short you said it best…some people are just misinformed. BTW…the topic of your article was about marriage and I totally agree with you that it takes WORK! Even with all the free benefits and stuff..LOL!

  10. Jacqueline- I’m sorry you have such a negative view of milspouses. Most of them I know are nothing like you described.

    Marie- Very well said 🙂 I think your blog is wonderful. I too am a milspouse living in Washington

  11. Hi Marie! I think it was awesome that you ok’ed the comment and then responded with such an eloquent reply. I’m a civilian that is thankful for and appreciates the sacrifices that military families make. I look forward to reading your future blogs.

  12. Marie, well said being the Military services member myself and my husband the spouse and just returning myself. I can say he does not think he is better than any body, and our two small kids just had him to depend on. And we do this to support our country and for nothing else. I sure as heck make more in the real world.

  13. This is great! Good perspective and so true. So many people think those little floating hearts last forever and they don’t. If you respect, trust, and communicate with the person, the marriage can last years after those floating hearts fade away.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  14. Julie, you can’t be mad at someone that “just doesn’t know”. This is not the first or last person to be misinformed. All we can do is tell them the truth, it’s up to them where to go from there. 🙂

  15. Jacqueline~Wow. You are obviously pretty bothered by this. Normally I wouldn’t ok a comment that comes across as mean or hurtful to others, but you are just misinformed, so that is different and I hope I can clear a few things up for you.

    First, nothing is “free” and I promise you there are no “silver goddamn platters.”
    We are not handed houses….if there is a branch of the service that does that, I guess we missed out. Yes, there is “housing”, did you know we pay for it? Well, we do. And it isn’t a set rate. It depends on the area, cost of living, and how much money you make. Just like in the Civilian world. Housing is thee bc the bases need a place for their service members to live…..the local communities couldn’t always support the number of people needing homes. Housing is also not always available. Many of us live off base in houses like everyone else. We pay a mortgage, rent, utilities, insurance, etc.

    We also pay for school, I know, shocking. If they are using a GI BILL, money was put toward that by the service member earlier in their career. The same type of programs are offered to civilians where you contribute money at an earlier date and allow to grow or be matched by companies and can be used at a later date. There are also grants and scholarships, but as you know there are ones for civilians too.

    As for our medical….this will really blow your mind. We pay for it. Not directly, but it is factored into our pay. One of the reasons the pay is lower for such difficult and sometimes very dangerous jobs is because instead of paying the service member more and then charging them for a “family insurance plan” it is pre-factored in and the service member is just paid less instead of paying the policy out of pocket. Another shocker, there are a lot of big civilian companies that do this too.

    We also pay a monthly fee (by choice, don’t have to) for dental and life insurance. Dental is not 100% covered and it’s the same kind of dental insurance civilians can have.

    So, the only other “perk” I could see is our base stores, which are not always cheaper…I find Walmart or wholesale clubs to be better most of the time….

    I laughed out load at the part of marring a man with a whole lot of benefits. My husband made more money as a civilian. We gave up a lot to join the service including our nice cars and took a pay cut. He joined because of his want to serve, nothing more.

    I’m sorry that you are angry and feel this way. I wouldn’t want to be you..it has to be exhausting. Todays service members are volunteers. We all chose to be here. I will tell you after living in the civilian world as single mom and now living as a milspouse, both were challenging, but in their own ways. You can’t compare that. And I have no idea where you got the idea that any milspouse thinks they are better than a civilian. We all know that isn’t true and I’ve never heard such a thing. I think you have had a very bad experience with a milspouse and need to be able to recognize that instead of coming to someones personal blog ( because I know “I” didn’t send this to you to comment on) and ranting about a life you know nothing about. It’s just rude. ***to others that read this, please don’t lash out at Jacqueline. She didn’t know any better. . .

  16. People get pissed off with military wives because you guys get handed a house, the opportunity to have a family whenever you want on a silver goddamn platter.

    It’s a generalization, sure.. But you can’t honestly expect women who have to actually WORK for the things you get for free to be accepting of you when the MAJORITY of military wives rub this in everyone’s face at every opportunity.

    Reality is, everyone struggles and goes through hardship, but the difference between military wives and regular women is that you guys get given a hell amount of benefits that a woman would give her arm for, and then (most) of you have the audacity to boast about this and complain about how hard your lives are when you’re getting everything we could possibly want for ourselves but for FREE.

    You guys don’t shut up about being a military wife. A lot of my good friends here in Virginia are military wives, and to be honest I get damn well sick of every facebook status, conversation or anything they have to say is about them being so hard done by because they’ve been given the amazing opportunity of having a supportive husband, a child or two and a house and schooling and so much more that is taken for granted.

    Wake up. Don’t you see that SO many women want a family, a stable job, not to worry about paying for things like school?

    The real reason people are so goddamn sick of military wives is that you have so much, and that you act so ungrateful for it every day. LIFE IS HARD FOR EVERYONE.

    Yeah, you might go some time without your husband, but you know what, every couple has hardships and you guys are the LUCKY few that get compensation for yours!!!

    I’m sick of “military wives” thinking they are the bees knees when all they did was marry a man with a whole lot of benefits.

    Grow up and realize that you might have it hard, but others have it a lot harder and resent the fact that you feel you have the right to complain and act like you’re better than them when you will only ever be our equal.

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