“Do you know what I want to give my parents for Christmas?” he asked calmly. “A new daughter-in-law.”
And so began this wonderful journey that has taken me places I never dreamed possible.
On the 23rd day of May, 23 years ago, my Military Man stood at the front of that church all decked out and looking some kind of handsome in his uniform. On that hot Florida afternoon, I did not know the places we would go, the incredible times we would have, or the struggles we would face. And I certainly did not know all the ways he would find to say, “I love you.”
To celebrate 23 years on May 23, I reflected on 23 ways my Military Man has let me know he loves me. Several months ago I read “35 Things Only A Military Spouse Would Find Romantic.” It made me smile, and inspired me to create my own short list, which I shared on Facebook. If you saw that post, you may recognize a few of these, but keep reading; this list is even better!
23 Ways a Military Man Says “I Love You!”
- He convinces the Powers That Be that sending you both to a particular place for your honeymoon just so he can participate in a brief mission — and then get back to honeymooning — is a really bad idea. Even better, he leaves his beeper in the office for the wedding and the honeymoon. (Yes, dear, I said “beeper” — this was 23 years ago!)
- You get a call on your first wedding anniversary from your husband’s office while he is deployed and the guy relays a message that leaves him baffled but leaves you feeling loved, because the two of you have developed your own secret code.
- You call him in a panic at 3 AM because you hear gunshots and people yelling outside your apartment; you proceed to tell him they are talking about the kind of gun he shoots, an M-80. With a not-too-heavy sigh, he replies: “Honey, go back to sleep. I shoot an M1A. An M-80 is a firecracker.”
And then a few months later, he resigns from the Air Force high powered rifle shooting team, despite consistent wins and a dream of national competition, because he doesn’t like leaving his new bride home alone every Saturday.
- When he travels, he returns home with untold goodies (i.e., gemstones!), hides them, and has them set in jewelry for special occasions throughout the years.
- Lest you suffer an infection, he removes a splinter with all the thoroughness of a field surgeon afraid of the most vile bacteria known to man (sometimes we don’t speak the exact same love language…).
- You get an in-depth and extremely detailed account of every piece of anything that was ever in battle on land, air, or sea when visiting any museum, because he would hate for you to miss out on a single piece of exciting information. Likewise, movies are stopped at the oddest places to explain what “really” happened, or to rewind and explain why the actor is holding the gun the wrong way, or why a particular maneuver “never would have worked,” because it goes without saying that you are as interested in these little details as he is. 😉
- When the military moving office won’t help you out with any requests because you are “just a dependent,” he comes home for a day in the middle of an extended TDY, visits the moving office, and is home 30 minutes later with everything squared away. Moreover, after every PCS move, he completes ALL of the damage claim paperwork!
- If there is a loud noise in the house in the middle of the night, or a stray balloon that, in the dark, happens to look like a stranger’s head looking up the stairs, or any other perceived threat that turns your knees to water, his protective instincts and training will always kick in to defend his home and family against all enemies — foreign, domestic, or mylar.
- You go into labor when you are 5 months pregnant and the doctor puts you on bed rest. Even though your mom could come take care of you in his absence, he declines an out-of-town training course, a decision that could ultimately be career-ending, just because he doesn’t want to leave you for more than a day.
- Your military ID expires when you are eight months pregnant and he convinces the lady issuing the new ID to use your old picture, all the while making her think it is her idea.
- You receive a 5 minute mid-deployment phone call from across the world, and he spends the whole time explaining how to work the remote controls because he can tell how badly you need to watch that tear jerker and eat that ice cream.
- At your request, he takes multiple showers at 4 AM after returning from a 2 month deployment because some smells just can’t be washed out on the first go ’round.
- He spends right at $1500 so that you can take your cat — your CAT! — overseas with you.
- At the end of a 2 month deployment with a foreign military unit, they give him a picture of a traditional wedding march because he “talked about his wife so much.”
- He holds your hand (tightly!!) when the bomb residue detectors at the security gate go off on your vehicle, and you both have to wait in the car until a full inspection of the vehicle can be completed — and the whole time you are thinking, “I’m going to orphan my 3 year old in a foreign country!”
- He’s 20 minutes away from home, but gets there in 7 minutes because you think someone is in the house.
- When he passes the 20-year service mark, his first thought is, “Now if anything happens to me, you will still get my retirement benefits.” Um…okay… 😯
- He walks in the house in his DCUs and combat boots — carrying an armload of roses. Oh, be still my heart! 💙
- He promises your dad that if it gets scary where he is taking you, he will send you home. And he does.
- He drives over six hours in the middle of the night with a 104 degree fever and salmonella, unflinchingly breaking a few rules along the way, to make sure you get on the next available flight when things get scary (see #19).
- At his retirement, he takes his end of service award off his chest and pins it to your dress because, “In all the tight spots, you handled the scary situations better than most trained officers I know.”
- He never buys into the fallacy that a strong man doesn’t show his emotions. If he tears up one day because he is holding his baby girl for the first time, or because he is leaving her in a college dorm for the first time, or because he just heard the National Anthem, or because he is telling someone what Jesus means to him, or just because he looks up and sees you standing there…he let’s you see what is going on inside that great big manly heart.
- When the uniforms are all packed away and the PCS moves have ceased, he is still the same personification of integrity, loyalty, courage, and devotion that captured your heart when you saw him standing at the front of that church 23 years ago.
Thank you, my Military Man, for letting me fly off with you “into the Wild Blue Yonder!” Happy Anniversary!
What about you? Share with me the most unique way your Hero (military or not!) has ever told you he loves you!
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