I hunched forward in my chair, figuring if I made myself seem smaller, no one would notice me or force me to talk. Still, I couldn’t help but overhear the whispers.
“Who is that man sitting in the foyer?”
“Do you think we should do something? This seems weird.”
Finally summoning up the courage to speak, I let the other ladies in the women’s group know that it wasn’t a strange man lurking outside the meeting room in the otherwise empty church—it was my husband.
What I didn’t tell them? He’d driven me to the gathering earlier that evening, reassuring me he’d wait right outside until it was over. It was the only way I’d agree to go to an event where I knew no one, and we both knew I needed to make some friends.
That twenty-year-old me was a far cry from the person I am today. In fact, I often embarrass my kids by carrying on conversations with total strangers, from the cab driver to whoever looks new and out of place at a military event.
But I still remember her, that young new military spouse, away from her hometown for the first time, paralyzed at the thought of making small talk, fearful of rejection, unsure how to navigate this big new military world. And I’m thankful she had a sweet young husband who loved her enough to teach her what all the acronyms meant, reassure her she was worth knowing, and push her out of comfort zone when she needed it.
The above scenario was nearly 30 years ago. And I don’t discount the fact that we’re some of the lucky ones, having a marriage last this long. A military marriage at that, with all the stressors of military life added to the normal day in/day out of married life. So, as National Spouses Day (January 26) approaches, I want to take a moment to remember some of the ways I’m grateful for my spouse. To my husband…
Thank you for your sacrifice.
While some people might say you knew what you were getting into, I don’t think our country can ever repay you for your three decades of willing military service. Thank you for setting a standard of excellence in your work life and your personal life, as well as for the years you spent away from your wife and children. You’ve never complained, yet you’ve put yourself in harm’s way while giving up holidays with your family, birthdays, your oldest son’s entire senior year….so thank you.
Thank you for supporting my dreams.
I’ll never forget the day you unpacked a new desk, set it up, and told our kids, “If Mommy’s sitting at her desk writing, she’s working and you need to leave her alone!” Thank you for taking my writing dream seriously and supporting me however you could. Military life absolutely took over our family at times, because it had to. But I’m glad there was also room for my hopes and goals.
Thank you for being an amazing dad.
You’ve never been the one driving your own schedule because you’ve been at the mercy of what the military requires, have endured years away from us due to deployments and separations, and yet you’re the best dad (and now grand-dad) I know. Thanks for being all in when you’re with our four kids, for investing individually into each one of their lives, and never leaving any doubt in their minds as to how you feel about them.
Thank you for leaving me.
Oh, I wasn’t one of those military spouses who secretly celebrated or planned a next “girls’ night out” when you had to leave; we both know that, so this sentiment might seem a little strange. But while I wouldn’t have chosen it, I’m even grateful for the time apart. Without it, I wouldn’t have learned what I was capable of on my own or how strong I could be. And I wouldn’t appreciate you as much, I think, if I hadn’t had to face the reality of what life would be like without you. I’m thankful, even for the days apart.
But still…thank you for driving me to that group, all those years ago.
Life gets busy, and it’s easy to forget to express our appreciation for our spouses. National Spouses Day is January 26th and it’s your turn! What are some ways you’re grateful for your spouse? #NationalSpousesDay