It all started when I was searching for a boyfriend. I was about 24 years old. A teacher for about 2 years in the high school I graduated from, and wanting someone to share my time, joys, and life with.
I had had one really long relationship when I was in high school… a couple of boyfriends throughout college… a couple of one night stands, and a couple of duds… quite a few situations that did not leave me KNOWING I was going to marry that person. And I SWORE… up and down, left and right, sideways and backwards that I would never marry a military man.
Boy did I eat those words.
I was on a free dating website… I had paid for a few, knowing I was not going to find the man I would marry at a bar, or at my job, or anywhere around me… so I ventured into internet dating.
I received a lot of unsolicited pictures; and keep in mind that internet dating was a new thing, and Tinder didn’t exist… there were 2 or 3 dating websites that I paid subscriptions for, and then there was this free one.
I had talked to a few guys.. Some I had some good conversations with… and then one day, I saw this cute guy and read his profile… I decided to compose a message. I had my friend over that day, showed him the profile, and then his picture. He approved, and I showed him the message I was going to send. He hit “enter” before I could stop him.
And thus began my relationship with a man in the military.
He was finishing up his schooling at Dam Neck in Virginia Beach. He is originally from Oregon.. All the way on the West Coast. You see… I knew I wouldn’t meet the man I was going to marry anywhere near me in my hometown in Virginia.
We talked online for several months, and then decided to meet. Just to give you a glimpse into this relationship that led to our marriage… we met at a bar/restaurant in a neighboring town. I brought my friend with me that hit that “enter” button, and my other friend was working as a bartender at the establishment, so I could have her get a sneak peek before I arrived. He arrived before I did… and sat outside and began drinking.
My friend told me that he was super nervous, and he was there. He seemed fun and nice.
I arrive, and after a while of chatting, laughing, and getting to know each other, he and his friends pull out a mullet wig. You heard me right. A mullet wig.
I have the pictures to prove it.
We laughed some more and continued to chat and laugh until closing time. We then decided to go to a friends house to hang out some more. Time flew that night, and it turned into about 4:30 in the morning and we went to a 24 hour diner. They finally left at about 6 a.m. and drove back to base that morning.
I knew I was going to marry this man.
Fast forward 9 months into our romance, and he has graduated from C school, and joined the “mythical fleet”. For those of you that are active duty service members, you know that it is called the “mythical fleet” because you only hear about it in boot camp, schoolings, and trainings. You don’t believe the fleet is real until you get assigned to sea duty. My poor husband graduated first in his class, and had the opportunity to get first pick at orders. He and his best friend had planned to go to Japan for their first duty station. Well… he met me, and decided to stay state side. He even decided to stay on the east coast for me so I could be close to my family.
I remember having the conversation with him. We were still dating, but I told him I would follow him anywhere. And I meant it.
He ended up getting stationed in VA, and moved in with me in my hometown.
We both knew that we wanted to be together forever. We talked about kids, we talked about jobs, and we talked about duty stations.
We can’t keep secrets or surprises from each other.
We were running separate errands that day.. Me getting his cake and presents all ready, and him just “running errands”. We met back up at my parents house for dinner, which was a common occurrence since we only lived about 5 minutes down the road.
He is acting funny… not in a concerning way, but in a way that I knew something was up. My parents were in the kitchen doing something, and we were in the living room. He then pulls out a small, black velvet box. I try not to get myself too excited because, well, duds. He then opens it and shows me what is inside.
He had been shopping for engagement rings all day.
I almost have a heart attack. My mind starts racing…
“We’ve only been dating 9 months!”
“Is he serious?”
“Don’t play with my emotions!”
Turns out I said that one out loud. He laughed. “I’m not. I’m dead serious,” he said.
I have to run to the back of the house to keep from hyperventilating. I didn’t know if my parents already knew, but I knew if they didn’t I couldn’t tell them because he has to ask them for their blessing! We also talked about that a lot before, so he knew the rule.
I finally compose myself, and we leave my parents and go out to dinner. I tell him I can’t believe this… I ask him if he’s sure… and he says yet. Then he pulls out the rings again, and tells me to look at them. I was so excited earlier that I didn’t take a close look at it.
I told him I couldn’t look at it… it had to be bad luck or something… he shoves it in my hand and I look at them.
I had told him what I thought I wanted my engagement ring to look like… but this was different and absolutely gorgeous. I shut it quickly and hand it back to him and again tell him not to play with my emotions… We get to dinner, and he says that he doesn’t want anything else for his birthday other than to have me for the rest of his life.
What a romantic.
Now, I won’t tell you the WHOLE engagement story, as it may not be appropriate here… but this, again, just exemplifies the husband I am so lucky to have.
Needless to say I said ‘yes’.
Thus began the wedding planning.
He had been stationed on the USS George H. W. Bush. This was the newest carrier at the time, and they were gearing up for her maiden voyage. This meant a world tour. Pretty exciting!
Except if you have no idea what to expect of a deployment or underways or port visits.
My mind was spinning again.
Because of this maiden voyage world tour, this deployment was a big one. And it was happening very soon since she was so recently christened.
That meant that we had 4 months to plan our wedding.
That’s right. FOUR months.
This was a conundrum for a few reasons.
We thought we might wait until he got back from deployment for us to get married and have the wedding I was picturing in my mind. Getting married in August, Gerbera daisies for my bouquet, a light weight dress, no other holiday or family celebration day to share… but the Navy told us a different story.
If we weren’t married, I wouldn’t have access to all of the things that spouses had access to. Granted, I was an independent woman that had a townhouse and a job and a car and I was taking care of my own business… but if anything happened to him while on deployment, I had no rights, no access to information, and life would be a bit more difficult since we weren’t officially married.
Mom, I’m apologizing now for spilling these beans… but we were seriously considering just going down to the courthouse and getting married only in an official capacity for the benefits of a spouse during a deployment.
I may have been threatened with a big fat nothing for a wedding or reception had I eloped. We decided against it. :)
So… we were off to plan a wedding in four months to be married before he left that January. We were engaged in July. We started planning in August.
I am stressed out because I know that a lot of times, people have to wait a year or so for venues and churches and caterers and dresses, etc.
However, I have an amazing group of women around me and they got on the phone using all of their resources… We had my childhood church, a reception venue, a caterer, and a photographer. The wedding date was set for December 5th. My one rule was NO CHRISTMAS. I hate the winter… so I wasn’t as pleased with that, but, we were getting married, so that was really all that mattered.
In the few months we had, we got EVERYTHING taken care of. This was difficult though.
Chad was gone every couple of weeks.
A lot of the planning was sent through emails to the ship. A lot of questions went unanswered.
A lot of appointments were made on the weekends while he was home, even if only for one full day.
Somehow, it all got done and all went off without a hitch. We were married.
In addition to cake that evening, I also at crow.
Thus begins my life as a navy spouse. And although I’m not done being a Navy spouse… I have lots of stories to tell.