F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
“What happened to all the ABU shirts?,” asks my husband as he frantically searches through our cluttered closet for a clean shirt to wear under his uniform. I think to myself, “You would know if you did the laundry,” but my sensible side persuades me to hold my tongue and help him pack his gym bag.
There’s no sense in arguing when we’re both tired and preparing to hit the gym at 5:00 a.m. the next morning.
After we set 50 alarms on each of our phones we begin to doze off.
“Did you turn off the slow cooker?,” I ask out loud.
“Did you check my car – it was making a funny noise all day,” I follow-up.
“Did you take out the garbage cans?,” we miss the truck nearly every other week.
“Can we use all our leave and go on a relaxing vacation to a tropical destination and live in utter happiness without a care in the world?”
“We’re already there - minus the tropical part,” Kevin replies, and I fall asleep in utter happiness without a care in the world.
I have less than a year of marriage under my belt and, while being a dual military couple has its challenges, it certainly has its perks. I’m extremely grateful to be sharing my military experience alongside my best friend.
For military members, work is 24 hours a day 7 days a week and many times it seems that he and I work on different spectrums of that time frame.
Finding the perks can be difficult when faced with challenges, many of which we have yet to go through. We can both get deployed at the same time, or we can be stationed at separate bases.
The most important thing to remember is that you and your spouse can do anything together. While every relationship has its challenges, there’s a reason you married each other in the first place. Know not only what makes your relationship good, but what both of you can do to make it better.
Every day Kevin teaches me something new, whether it be an Air Force acronym I’ve heard in passing or a tidbit of information from his most recent college class.
The most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my short marriage are sharing time, tackling everything as a team and accepting small sacrifices.
Me Time is Our Time
Kevin is a missileer and goes out on alert for 24 hours, typically two to three times a week. Planning around his schedule is both convenient and a buzz kill. Scheduling “Netflix and chill” around homework is easy, but spur of the moment trips to Fort Collins or Denver with our friends is usually out of the question.
When Kevin is out of the house I seize the opportunity to clean, buy groceries, squeeze in extra-long gym sessions and run other mundane but necessary errands. The day he returns from the field is deemed, “his day.”
A typical Kevin day involves stuffing our faces at his favorite restaurant, binge watching our current must-watch show for hours, finishing assignments and falling asleep before 9:00 p.m. I sometimes catch myself complaining that we don’t go on enough adventures or take advantage of outdoor activities.
My weekends are his workdays, and while road tripping to the Rocky Mountains every Saturday seems ideal, there’s no place I’d rather be than sitting in our pajamas in our living room, laughing out loud together.
Keep Calm and Always Help Each Other
I often come home from work with a pounding need to tell Kevin every single detail of my day. He’s also a second lieutenant, so he understands the uphill battle I face trying to keep up with my duties and Airmen. He offers sound advice when I need it and gives me an outside perspective on my career field.
One day I was freaking out about an event I was planning and felt it was going to fail because of me. Once I was done ranting Kevin’s first words were, “What can I do to help?”
He didn’t let me wallow in my perceived stress or say, “You’ll do better next time.” He offered his help because he understood for us, successes and failures are shared experiences, and when we work together, things naturally fall into place as they are meant to be.
Things Don’t Make the Dream
I’ve been driving the same 2007 Ford Focus since I was 18. It’s so loud that when people ride in it for the first time they ask why I have a spoiler. We can afford making payments on a new car, but in order to pay off all our student loans I’ll keep driving my discolored, noisy ride for at least another two years.
And I’m totally okay with that.
We’re making small sacrifices now to plan for a better future together. We’re really trying to stick to a budget and save money where we can. Kevin taught himself to cut his own hair to save on trips to the barber and we try and cook meals at home Monday through Friday. I’ve wanted to adopt a dog since we arrived here last February, but I’m patiently waiting for my future Fido until our loans disappear.
Budgeting and making decisions together have helped Kevin and I rely on each other and think of “we” before “me.” Making little sacrifices for your marriage will pay dividends in the long run.
Everyday I’m thankful for all the lessons my marriage is teaching me and for having a partner that helps me grow as an individual.
Being married to a military member is a blessing and serving as one is an added bonus. Take advantage of the fact that you two can understand what it’s like to wear the uniform. Help each other grow to be a strong, resilient force ready for what the world has in store.
Appreciate the perks of serving your country together, and smile knowing your spouse has got your six.