My husband and I have been married 23 years today.
We’ve probably spent as many anniversaries apart as we have together. Good thing the day itself isn’t what matters most to us. I’m not the stereotypical spouse who expects flowers or chocolates or jewelry on special days. Don’t get me wrong, if I get them, I’m pleased as punch but they have taken a back seat to a simpler pleasure, just the joy of spending time together. Yes, it sounds trite but it isn’t. You see, I’m one of thousands of military spouses who have seen their partners go to war. That simple act changes how you approach everyday living and things you might have once taken for granted aren’t taken for granted anymore.
When we got married back in 1990, teal and peach were popular colors, silk flowers were more affordable than fresh, and there was no such thing as an online registry. As a nation, we Americans were still living the Cold War, but were hopeful that it was about to end. We were involved in huge peacekeeping efforts around the world and often worked hand in hand with the United Nations. We hadn’t yet entered the first Gulf War. Back then, I knew military life could be fraught with dangerous assignments but war felt very unlikely. My biggest worry was a year assignment to Korea. I laugh at that now. What a thing to fear!
This anniversary, we are only half a nation apart and we will speak to each other by telephone. I won’t be able to look at our wedding album like I usually would. It’s on its way to our next assignment, packed deep in a box and wrapped in layers of paper. But I don’t need pictures to remember the wide smiles on our faces just after we signed our marriage license nor the cadre of military cadets holding their sabers high as we passed beneath them. I don’t need pictures to remember our first dance and the absolutely horrible music played by our rented band. I don’t need pictures to remember the best song of day was sung by a group of our friends, all down on their knees, serenading me with that famous song from An Officer and a Gentleman, Up Where We Belong. Sappy as ever but what a memory!
As military life adds stress and pressure to so many marriages, I find it important to reflect on how those same stresses and pressures can make us stronger as a couple. We face it all together. We don’t always understand each other but we try. If we can keep doing that for the next 23 years, then we can face just about anything.
Happy Anniversary Love!