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Tough Love


When someone asks, “How do you do it?” I have no response.  I can think up a million thoughts in my head but I struggle putting the answer into words.  How do I do it?

I love him..  Does that answer everything that loaded question entails?  Love.  Because I have a lot of that.  The crazy emotional kind of love that makes me scream and cry and laugh.. Love.  That is how I do it.

Recently my husband left for another long training trip..  It has always been hard to say goodbye. I never wanted to marry a man in the military.  I grew up in the military lifestyle and I didn’t want that for my future – it looked lonely and sad.  But I fell in love..  And the heart wants what it wants.

It is hard to put into words where my mind goes when he leaves.. Each household is different. Each family deals with the distance in various ways.. No one will understand a military wife as much as her husband.. So I write this to my husband;


My love,

After you kissed me on the lips and gave me the most endearing hug, you whispered “I love you” in my ear and walked away towards your flight.  Our son cried for you.  He yanked my arm and wanted to chase after you.  He started to cry – half because he wanted to go on the airplane and half because he knows you are leaving him again.  Our daughter, too young to understand, kept trying to jump out of my arms so she could play.  I held her tight and grabbed our son’s hand and quickly walked to the car so the strangers couldn’t see me cry.

Originally I thought you would be gone for nine weeks.  A short amount of time compared to other trips, but still long enough that it hurts to say goodbye.  A couple of nights ago I found out that nine weeks turned into eleven.  Not the best news, but your work dates always change – we will manage.  I’ll just wait to mark Dad Comes Home on the calendar for when the day comes.  After we got in the car, Richie cried for you some more.  He screamed “I don’t want to go home, I want to go with dad” until he exhausted himself.  I had to fight back tears because he was screaming exactly what I was feeling.  But I stayed strong. I try to prove that I can handle the distance so that they can learn to do the same.  Sometimes I question whether I should tell you how they react when you leave.  I don’t want you to worry.  I want you to stay focused on work.  If you are constantly thinking about us, you can’t concentrate, then you aren’t safe.

Sometimes I wonder how we are still married when so much of our time is spent apart.
I never wanted to marry someone in the military.  I grew up in a military family; my dad and brother were always gone.  My dad would be deployed off and on for a year at a time and my brother joined and left for boot camp when I was eight years old.  During family gatherings we were always missing someone.  Always hoping they were safe and always counting down the days until they were home.  I didn’t want that anymore.  I wanted my children to see their father every night at dinner.  I never wanted to live my life counting down the days until my husband came home, and then counting down the days until he left again..

Until one day at work – I saw you.  I refilled your coffee, you smiled, and I was yours.  Shortly after, I found out that you were in the military and without hesitation all of my “no military” plans flew out the window.  I was (am) crazy about you.. All of our months apart have been well worth the days we spend together.  Look at us now; five years, three deployments, two kids, two states, and countless months apart – you still make my heart skip.

I hate it when you leave.  I want you to stay.  I want to argue with you instead of text you.  I want to kiss you instead of FaceTime you.  I want the kids to crawl over you instead of smile for pictures that I send.  I just want you here.

I don’t hate your job. I just hate that it gets you.

Tonight I had to wrestle the kids into their pajamas.  One kid begged me to read Dr. Seuss and the other begged me to brush their teeth.  They both wanted their backs rubbed but one wanted a glass of water and I just ran out of hands.. I called for you twice before I remembered that you weren’t here.  I started to cry because I realized I was alone.  The kids looked at me like I was losing my mind..  I looked at them, wiped my tears, then tried to explain to them that there is a good chance I might go crazy in the next few weeks.  Unfortunately, I don’t think they understood.  They are in for a bumpy ride.

After five years, I feel embarrassed that I still get so emotional when you leave – I cry every time.  I keep myself busy, I have work and school to keep me occupied.  I have no definite answer as to why I feel so sad.  Of course I miss you, but I really enjoy our time apart.  It hurts to watch the kids ask for you, but I felt this sadness before they were born.  Maybe it is worry; the fear that every kiss, every embrace, every moment spent together before you leave could be the last time.  Is that dramatic?  Maybe a little.

We have come so far from that first year..
I have learned to be flexible.
I give you a reason to come home and you give me a reason to stay.
When you are home – you are here. You don’t distract yourself with drinking or gadgets, you give us your all and I love that.
I love that we take turns sleeping in.
I love that you’ve kept me focused on my goals and you have never doubted me.

At the end of the day, I will always dread the days you have to leave.  I miss you and I know that you miss us.  It hurts.  The tears are constant and our marriage is hard but I stick around simply because I love you.
I can handle this, babe. WE can handle this.

Be safe.




My husband and I on a hike in Hawaii.


Artwork via designspiration.com




  1. Tara Tona says

    I’ve just read this for the second time, and cried again. I cried so much the first time I read it I didn’t think I could cry anymore. I know it is partly because I know you so well, and you are all so dear to my heart, but beyond that… this story is so incredibly full of love. It is the essence of strength, dependence, independence, love, and courage all at once. Beautiful, my dear one… beautiful. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You, my love, are such an amazing wife and momma! You are doing so good and I am so proud of you! Thank you for sharing your heart with the world! You both are so very blessed to have each other! xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohhhh myyyyy goodness. I am crying at my desk at work. This is beyond beautiful, beyond poetic. So raw and so real. Yes, like Tara said there is so much strength yet weakness, so much love yet longing, so much independence but dependence as well…ah, just like life. Thank you for sharing this and for being an inspiration. Everyone who reads this will be touched by it and hopefully grab their loved one a little closer. Sending you and your beautiful family and incredible partnership so much LOVE.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gerry McElravy says

    My hubby, your uncle- retired chief boatswains mate ,who served this awesome country for 24 years. I married this wonderful man and I had the priviledge of being by his side the last 10 years that he served prior to retiring. We had our share of goodbyes It takes a special person to be a military wife. I know people say that all the time but I can say that from the heart. You always have the ones that say goodbye to the ones they love just to think to their selves…I’m free to do as I please. Spend as I want. Party with anyone – anywhere and put their ‘oh I missed you so much “face on- tear,tear when the love one returns. Then you have that special women that truly with all her heart and soul loves that military man near or far no matter how long you have to wait to hold him in your arms just to tell him you love him. Everything in your letter was so on point it’s amazing. Its as though you were me in the past seeing things through my eyes. With that being said. You will always feel like you just want to scream or just get angry but … Do this. Take a moment and turn around, look to the sky. Say ” lord please forgive me and look over me and my children, and lord keep my hubby safe and bring him home soon… Thank you lord. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. NOW. Turn back around look straight into your little ones eyes. And the most amazing thing will happen. You will feel peace in your heart and the love for your hubby just feels so much stronger and the strength to stay strong for your kiddos is recharged for another day.. When my hubby was on his cruises or training. No matter what I wrote him daily. It was like he was home and that was my time with just me and him. How my day was asked how his day was. Sometimes small talk sometimes complaining sometimes crying. It didn’t matter. So you keep the communication and stay strong. And never fall out of love with you military hubby.


    • Oh thank you Auntie!!! Thank you for sharing.. It means so much. It truly takes a special kind of love.
      I love you & miss you guys ❤


  5. I am so touched by this. Thank you for sharing a window into your life and your world. I think all humans can recognize and sense when something is authentic and real and true. Your love is that way. So palpable and so inspiring. And yes….I am crying. Thanks for sharing with such honesty. I admire your strength and your willingness to show all of the parts of your love story. I’m holding a space for grace and safety for you and your family.


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