Two years ago today, William promoted to 1st Lieutenant. And I was so honored that he wanted me, his fiancé, to be there to pin him. It was an exciting day in our relationship and, as we left there to go take engagement photos (because when you’re dating long distance you cram 896 things into a 3 day weekend), I distinctly remember thinking about how much more exciting it will be to pin him at his next promotion, as his wife. As his helper. As his roommate. As the one who walks through this crazy military thing along side of him.
Fast forward to February 2016, where we were preparing for William’s upcoming deployment… and coincidently, spending a big chunk of time in marriage counseling.
Can I just put it out there that I LOVE marriage counseling. I can’t think of many things more rewarding of your money. Okay. Sorry. Back to the story…
Most of our counseling sessions look a lot like this: William and I are sharing a couch, slightly facing one another. I’m crying and talking in circles, while he is passing me tissues and focusing really hard on listening (and probably trying to figure out where I store everything in my brain). Bless him.
Although this particular counseling session didn’t look much different, the dialogue did. I finally
word vomited opened up about my confusion and distress with military marriage within a Christian marriage. Both of which we were (and still are) new at.
I was initially afraid to speak up about my concerns in fear of offending my husband who bleeds red, white and blue. But that’s what’s so beautiful about marriage and counseling. Together, they provided me a safe and intimate place to lay everything out there and not be judged for any of it.
We had just spent the past year attending premarital counseling, a marriage conference, reading books on marriage, and seeking God’s word, heart and desire for marriage. All of which pointed us to some valuable key points to live our marriage by:
Communicate about everything.
Study God’s word together.
Spend quality time together.
Have sex often.
Show grace daily.
Always keep God first and each other second.
“How are we suppose to put everything we have learned about a healthy marriage to use… if we aren’t even together?!“, I was yelling through my tears. The counselor remained silent, knowing I wasn’t done.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me! Why would God do this right now?! We haven’t even had enough time to get good at these things TOGETHER… so how in the world can we do them APART?!”
I was mad. And scared. But masking it with sad. This usually happens when I’m not in control.
“Honestly…….. I just don’t see how deployment lines up with God’s desires for marriage“, I quickly muttered, and then wished I hadn’t. But I was so desperate for someone to prove me wrong.
Our counselor calmly chimed in…”Brittany, just because William will be in Honduras, doesn’t mean you won’t be his top priority or that he won’t still serve and pursue you. It will just look different for awhile…”
But I wasn’t buying it. Because I wasn’t ready to yet. I didn’t want him anywhere but with me.
She went on… “You will have to find new ways to love and support each other during this season and trust that God will provide opportunities to connect through the distance” … “And be intentional about communicating your needs, since they will most likely change” …”It won’t be easy but I know you can do it… because you’re Team Fine!” (Yes, Team Fine is what she calls us and I never want it to stop.)
AND dun dun dun dunnn … William promoted from 1st Lieutenant to Captain today!
But if I’m being honest, my heart ached today, and all week leading up to it.
Because I wanted to be there.
I wanted to be there, front and center, trying to contain my smile. I wanted to be there to pin him right before giving him a much deserved hug and kiss. I wanted to be there to let him know, that I’m the proudest wife there is today.
But the reality is, I wasn’t. And people he seemingly just met, filled my role. And I sat 3,000 miles away, waiting for the photos and videos I insisted he had someone take.
It felt wrong. And unsupportive. And it was exactly what I spoke about being afraid of in those emotionally draining counseling sessions months prior.
Maybe one day I’ll stop being selfish and bitter about it. But probably not today.
Because it’s days like today that make deployment really hard for me.
Just as I was starting to feel sad and lonely about my unconventional marriage, my phone started buzzing. A lot. It was being bombarded with what I had waited for all day. Pictures and videos of William getting to experience a “promotion flight” in the back of an Army helicopter — a rare and special way to commemorate and celebrate his accomplishment. Something he never would have had the opportunity to do if he hadn’t been deployed. And something I obviously wouldn’t have been allowed to join him in, even if I had been there.
I couldn’t help but notice that I hadn’t seen him smile that big in awhile. And how it made me smile too.
Then suddenly, I’m reminded of the truth our counselor spoke to us back in January… “how we would need to find new ways to love and support each other during this season”. The same words I wanted nothing to do with at the time. But was beginning to understand even more today.
I remembered how she also said our marriage was going to “look different”. Ha. Boy, was she right.
So maybe love and support doesn’t always have to look the way we expect or are use to? Maybe the verbal can sometimes outweigh the non. Maybe looking through the photos can touch you more than taking them. Maybe marriage can be just as fruitful apart, as it is together. Maybe sometimes cheering from a distance is, in fact, exactly how you can selflessly love and support.
I’m not always quick to be understanding of this life of service but William has chosen to answer our nation’s call, and as his spouse, I have chosen to love and support him no matter the circumstance. I guess even if that means sacrificing the chance to be with him on days like today…
Congratulations, Captain Fine! You make me an unbelievably proud
And you don’t look too bad hanging out the back of a helicopter either 😉