I forgot my anniversary this year.
No really, I completely, totally and utterly forgot my anniversary. Three years into my military marriage and I did not even see it coming. My mother-in-law messaged me one September morning to wish me a happy anniversary. I immediately clicked out of my iMessages and called my husband.
“Babe, did you know today is our anniversary?!”
“Yep. I was going to surprise you tonight.”
I hung up the phone with him, scrambling to come up with some brilliant idea for a gift. Of course when you are in a pinch, it’s always best to rely on the Google Bots to guide you. I Googled “what to give for third wedding anniversary.”
Apparently, I was supposed to give my husband an epic gift of leather because nothing says I love you like a piece of cow skin.
I quickly brainstormed some ideas: leather wallet, leather belt, leather backpack, leather pants? Definitely no to the leather pants. No, no, no. That would be so wrong. Although that could make for a good laugh.
What military marriage really looks like.
From the outside, I think many people believe military marriage revolves around romance and reunions and passion and heartache and separation, followed by more romance and reunions.
And it does.
But there is another side of military marriage. The real-regular-everyday-life-side of military marriage. The side where you forget your anniversary but your spouse has enough grace to forgive you. There are bigger things in the world to worry about.
Military marriage is having the same stupid argument about the pre-deployment chaos, then giving it a positive spin by saying “it’s tradition.”
Military marriage is moving to a new home every few years, and making it the best-darn-coziest-eat-your-heart-out-ikea home you ever did see.
Military marriage is learning to roll with the punches. To accept surprise work trips and surprise deployments and surprise homecomings.
Military marriage is wanting to lose a ton of weight and dramatically transform your body for homecoming, then realizing that supporting your service member, taking care of your family, and being together is all that matters.
Military marriage is learning to love someone regardless if they miss all the important holidays and birthdays and celebrations.
Military marriage is knowing that anger towards the military does not equate to anger towards your service member. They are two totally different things.
Military marriage is cleaning up all the gear vomit and mess of your house when he leaves on deployment and not saying a word about it.
Military marriage is dealing with the base tax center.
Military marriage is gathering up all the kids (while they are on their worst behavior ever) and flying solo back to your hometown so they can see their grandparents. This is not for sissies, friends.
Military marriage is rolling over to his side of the bed and realizing he isn’t there.
Military marriage is getting your car repaired three times, having it catch on fire at least once while he’s away, and doing it with enough poise and grace to make it seem like you have it all together.
Military marriage is giving “the look” where all the frustration and annoyance washes away and you simply feel love. It’s the look where you know you’re in it for the long haul.
The night of our anniversary.
I decided to screw tradition. We don’t live a traditional life, so why the bother with a traditional wedding anniversary gift?
Instead, we did something even better. We went out for sushi in Japan. Yes, sushi in Japan. I sat there across the table looking at him, drinking my Japanese Orion beer, and holding my chopsticks. Celebrating military marriage is about embracing the wild adventure you are experiencing. It’s about doing something memorable.
It’s not about a leather wallet that will go unused, and most likely, forgotten in a few months.
But sushi in Japan?
We’ll never forget it.
Want more on military life?
- The Real Reason Being a Military Life is So Hard
- 9 Relationship Truths Only a Modern Military Spouse Would Understand
- How to Stay Sane and Happily Married During Deployment
- 47 Things No One Tells You About Being a Military Wife