I shied away from marriage for a very long time. And it’s no wonder since folks always talked about how “hard” it is. They said things like, “That first year is awful!” or “Wait till the honeymoon is over, then it’s all up hill!”
So when I made the decision to marry Eric, I was afraid that somehow, our healthy relationship would suddenly fall apart and that everyone’s predictions about marriage and that “first year” would come true just hours after we said, “I do.”
Well, I’m happy to report, that my experience has been the exact opposite.
Our first year of marriage was crazy, but it was anything but “awful.” Eric and I met and are both in the Army, and while we were seriously dating, the Army issued Eric orders to move to Germany. But I was issued orders to Texas. It was devastating thinking about being away from each other for that long.
So we decided that for us, a three-year, long-distance relationship was out of the question, and the Army agreed to change our orders if we were willing to get married—immediately. With two weeks of preparation, we planned a beautiful budget wedding and were married in Alabama. Three short weeks later, we said “goodbye” to everyone, everything we knew, and boarded a plane to Germany. Our honeymoon would just have to wait, and our life began!
After a six month stint in Germany, we were both deployed to Afghanistan for the same mission as pilots of medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) helicopters.
Our mission in Afghanistan was dangerous and stressful, and Eric and I were usually hundreds of miles apart throughout southern and northern Afghanistan. I would hear Eric’s voice late at night over the radio and know that he was out on a mission. Sometimes, Eric would see a mission pop up in my sector and know that my flight crew would be answering the call. During those times, we would pray for safety, and try not to worry about each other, but it was hard when we were so far away and newly married. Our paths did cross every couple of months and those were such happy times together.
The best was when we finally arrived back in Germany because we had succeeded in passing the first test to our marriage. We found ourselves mentally and physically exhausted and with lots of new gray hairs, but even more united! During a deployment, it is more common for one spouse to stay behind while the other goes to war. So, our situation was a little unusual. Sharing the same experiences at the same time only proved to strengthen our relationship. As husband and wife, we had been to war together which made us feel invincible. If we can manage that, we can manage anything.
I will always be grateful for our first year. Moving so far away from family and friends allowed us space and time to bond without distractions. We only had each other for support, and even more so after deployment. We went through something together that no one else could understand. That time on mission together increased our resilience for hard times ahead and built up our character. And after, we spent two glorious weeks on the island of Crete off the coast of Greece. All I can say is that our first year was awesome!
And the five years since? They’ve only gotten better.