Category - National Guard

From the Heart of a National Guard Spouse: We Are Strong, Too

I remember the exact words spoken to me by my husband’s grandmother like it was yesterday, “Melissa, are you sure you’re ready for this?” It happened to be right before our wedding. Needless to say, I didn’t understand at the moment what that question meant, nor how much it would impact me in the years to come. You see my husband and I knew right from the moment we met each other, that we were done, off the market, meant to be together. To say our dating relationship before we got engaged was normal is a huge understatement. I don’t think it can even be considered dating. He lived 3,000 miles away. Our “dating” consisted of late night Skype calls and endless text messaging. When we first met, I overheard a conversation he was having about being in the military. That’s about as far as that conversation went. I don’t know if it was just the “I’m so in love” stage or the newness of everything, but I didn’t even think to ask him about his time in the military, why he joined in the first place, what he did, or anything for that matter. I didn’t think at the time it would ever impact us or myself. Fast forward through seven years of marriage with one deployment under our belts and one child; I can truly say that we made it! Not in the sense of crossing the finish line and we’re done, but when I take into account everything that we have endured, including what I have learned as a woman, wife of a soldier, mom, and the one keeping everything together as a family. Has it been easy? No, absolutely not! My husband deployed one month after we got married. I was 3,000 miles away from my home, family, and everything I ever knew. I can remember emailing him every single day hoping and wishing to get an email back or a phone/video call. It was about three weeks after he left that I finally got an email back saying he was ok and safe. Our emails back and forth were my lifeline to him. The first six months of his deployment I went back to California to visit my family. During my time there I busied myself with making him care packages, going to church, coffee hangouts with my friends, the movies, and anything I could find to busy my mind. Did it make the time go faster? Not all the time. Some days were harder than others. Keeping my mind busy helped tremendously with the ache of his momentary absence. About five months into his deployment, I remember his emails getting shorter and shorter. I would find myself wanting to ask questions, fighting the urge of worrying about him. I would pray and pray, sometimes crying in frustration not knowing or being able to understand what he was going through on a daily basis or why he was getting so distant from me. When that would happen, I found myself wanting to talk to someone who understood or that could answer my questions. Not being able to find anyone that could left me feeling like I had no support system at the time. Little did I know all of this was leading up to the start of a messy and beautiful journey that would lead us to where we are today. When Joseph returned from deployment months later, I couldn’t contain myself. It was literally right before Christmas. Like every military spouse, I wanted to pick out the perfect outfit, hairstyle, and makeup. Everything had to be just right. I waited with his family, for what seemed like an eternity, for him to get off that bus. The moment I saw him I ran into his arms and never wanted to let go. The following few months we would go from finally living together to finding out we were pregnant. We were both so excited, but in shock to say the least. We immediately started picking out baby clothes, getting everything prepared, and in the midst of that we were still just getting to know each other as husband and wife. Thinking back now, like most couples, we didn’t go through what some call the honeymoon stage. Our marriage over the next six years would be put through test after test, even to this day. Sometimes just when we each think it’s looking a sunny, another storm begins to brew in the distance. Some days and weeks, are easy. For the most part, it is hard work. But we choose to fight. Fight for each other, our marriage, and our love for one another. It outweighs everything. Even in the moments where all the odds are against us and everything seems impossible. No one can prepare you for any of that, let alone give a 101 handbook for deployment, marriage, or life as a military spouse. Then you add kids into the mix and it’s a whole new ball game. But surviving it all to have a healthy, thriving marriage, and parenting well…not only is it possible, but it’s 100% worth everything we’ve gone through. We, as a National Guard family, are strong! I can say that seven years later I’m still learning about being a military spouse: what different things mean, ways to support my husband, how to get involved within the military community, and being there for other spouses, encouraging and supporting them any way I can. Looking forward, I’m excited for everything in our future that is to come, no matter what the journey looks like. Connect with us on Facebook!