From the outside looking in, being an army wife seems like it is full of adventure, a steady income, and amazing healthcare. And it is! But it’s also filled with many moments of heartbreak, loneliness, and doubt. There are many highs and lows involved in this journey, and more times than not, the lows come around more frequently.
Chase and I have known each other since we were 11 years old. We have been together for half of our lives. From middle school to college, we were inseparable. We never went longer than a few days without communicating and I honestly don’t remember much about my life before Chase was in it.
He decided to join the Army when we were in the middle of our Freshman year of college. We both went to the same school and the thought of not having him there with me was devastating. Basic training takes about 3 months and we had never went that long without seeing each other. My heart was so saddened to see him go, but little did I know what was to come next.
Around the halfway point of basic training, his class had a weekend where family could come up and visit. Luckily, the base where he was located (Fort Benning, Georgia) was less than 2 hours away from our hometown. My family and his drove up there to see him and that weekend, Chase proposed to me on April 22, 2017. We had to say goodbye so Chase could finish his training and within the next 30 days, he graduated and we got married at a courthouse near the base on May 25, 2017. If a 33 day engagement doesn’t scream a military marriage, I don’t know what does! By the next week, we packed up all of our things, said goodbye to our families, and moved to our first duty station in June.
Being stationed at Fort Riley was so exciting at the time. We had never lived outside of our parents homes, we were newly weds, and we had never been to Kansas before. I was so eager to live together after spending those months apart. The first few months were amazing but they were very short lived.
In September, Chase left for his first deployment and I truly had no idea how I was going to survive 9 months without seeing him. We were still in the honeymoon phase so being separated was the hardest thing we had ever done. Not only was it a test to our marriage, but it was a test to our own individual strength. I had never lived on my own before, I was in a brand new city with no friends, with a brand new job. I was constantly doubting my ability to get through this.
Those 9 months were the loneliest I have ever felt in my entire life. In the first few months, because I hadn’t met any friends yet, my weekends consisted of getting all dressed up just to go to Target and waste some time. I remember feeling so low because the most exciting thing I had to do was stroll down aisles of a grocery store… alone.
Getting married at 19 is hard enough, but when you’re a military wife, it makes it even harder. I spent so many of those months angry at Chase for leaving, as if he had a choice in the matter. I convinced myself that it would be easier to be angry than it was to admit that I was sad and in pain. Our communication was terrible because there was an 8 hour time difference and the quality of our calls were very poor. I grew even more frustrated because my heart needed the quality time, but his job wasn’t making it easy.
As a soldier, their lives revolve around their job. The army doesn’t care if you have a family because there is always something to be done. Whether that’s a deployment, training, or going to the field, there is always something that pulls Chase out of our home. I struggled with this the entire 9 months. I went home for the holidays and that helped, but I never wanted anyone to know that I was struggling. I felt like telling people I was sad and hurting made me weak. I didn’t want any sympathy and I didn’t want to be a burden to those I wanted to vent to. If you are going through this, regardless of what you’re struggling with, please know that you do not have to carry this burden. It took me far too long to realize that it was okay to admit that I was hurting.
I think the reason that I didn’t want to speak up about my hardships was because I felt like it was selfish. I knew that Chase missed me too. Deep down, I knew that he would have given anything to be with me and that he did not choose to leave. I had so many army wives around me that made their separation look like a piece of cake, so why was I struggling so much?
I had this stigma in my head that my friends and family automatically thought “She chose to be a military wife… She needs to get over it” but they didn’t. My friends and family have been so supportive of our journey and they never run out of listening ears or shoulders to cry on. Had I realized this sooner, the weight would’ve felt a lot less heavy.
A long 9 months later, Chase came home and our marriage went into another shock. The entire deployment, I prayed for time to pass quickly but as soon as we were together again, we had to re-figure out how to live with one another. By the time I got used to living alone, Chase came home and I had to process what it was like to share a space with someone again. It seems like such a first world problem, but it’s a never ending cycle when you are an army wife. They come and go so often that you can never truly settle into a routine for long before something comes to change what you have going.
During the time that Chase was in the U.S. again, he still was hardly home with me. He would leave every few weeks or months and spend time away either at a school, training center, or in the field. Over time, the separation has definitely gotten more familiar and less challenging, but it’s never any less sad. Seeing tons of military bags packed that are spread all over our living room leaves me with one of the biggest pits in my stomach because that means it’s time for him to leave again. I think all of my military friends know exactly what I mean.
We found out we were pregnant in May of 2019 and I remember feeling SO sad that Chase was hardly home to experience it with me. I went to almost all of my OB appointments alone and each time Chase came home, my belly had changed drastically. This was a huge season of growth and I wish Chase was able to spend more of that time with me and baby Duke while he was in my belly. The hormones that flood your body during pregnancy are INSANE! I am not a crier at all but spent majority of those nights balling because he couldn’t be home.
Fast forward to today, he is on his second deployment. He had to leave when Henry Duke was only one month old. I can’t even imagine the pain he felt when he had to say goodbye to our newborn son. I’ve never seen him love someone as much as he loved our son. He has such a natural instinct to be a great Daddy and it’s terrible that he doesn’t get to be here during these first months of his life. The ONLY thing that keeps me going during this deployment is our boy. When I found out I was having a boy, my friend told me that it was God’s way of giving me a mini Chase while he was away. I couldn’t agree more.
Through all of the hard times, there is nothing better than seeing Chase excel in what he does. He has always wanted to be a soldier and he is pretty darn good at it. I love seeing his passion fuel him to do his best. He is reliable, intelligent, hard working, and respectful. He has promoted multiple ranks in such a short time and my wife heart couldn’t be more proud. Hearing him talk about his job and moments that he is proud of make all of these tough times worth it.
Our marriage is worth it. Our love is worth it. Our happiness is worth it. The one thing that Chase has consistently showed me over the past 3 years in the military is that our love knows no distance. He can make me feel special from across the world and for that, our relationship will always persevere.
Spending all of this time on my own has made me realize many things about myself as an individual and as a wife. I’ve learned to grow my level of patience and practice acceptance. The serenity prayer helped me tremendously. I would repeat it over and over again, and still do. My favorite line is, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I’ve realized that I am strong and as much as I love having chase nearby… my happiness doesn’t depend on it. It took years to get to this point, but through lots of prayer and soul searching, I’ve learned that I can do this. I can get through this. I will. For me, for my son, and for my marriage.
Overall, being a military wife is HARD. Honestly, there isn’t much about it that is easy. But through the grace of God, we are strong enough to handle it. I write all of this to show the progress that I have made as an individual and as a wife. At the beginning, I found it very hard to be supportive and accepting. I’m still not perfect, but I’m far better than I once was and for that I am proud.
This post was hard to write. It’s still hard for me to admit my struggles, but I’ve realized you can’t strengthen your weaknesses if you continue to suppress them. If you’re reading this and find yourself in a similar situation, I hope that you are able to speak of the issue causing you pain. I hope that you find relief in getting it off your chest and that you are able to grow from it. A line that helped me was from a christian song, “there may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
If you made it this far, know that I truly appreciate you taking the time to read these heartfelt words. It means more than you know! If you’re a military spouse, soon to be one, or just struggling with distance in your marriage, please reach out to me! I’d love to help in any way that I can.