scorecardWe got married only 30 days after meeting. It was the only way he could return back to me after deployment.
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We got married only 30 days after meeting. It was the only way he could return back to me after deployment.

Marla Bautista   

We got married only 30 days after meeting. It was the only way he could return back to me after deployment.
LifeScience3 min read
  • My husband and I got married after knowing each other for only 30 days.
  • Shortly afterward, he was deployed, and we didn't see each other for nine months.

When it comes to serious relationships, people often go from dating or courtship, to getting to know each other, to falling in love, to an engagement, and then to marriage, all of which usually happens over the course of years.

My story is different: I married a soldier 30 days after meeting him.

I didn't set out to be a military spouse. I knew nothing about the military other than the stories I'd heard from family members who served. Honestly, marriage wasn't even on my mind. I stumbled haphazardly into military life.

We met in a different state to where he was stationed, and for him to come back to me after his training we needed to be married. So we did.

We were in our mid-20s when we got married. We didn't have much money; we both worked but were financially insecure, trying to make ends meet — my new husband served in the Army Reserve. A few months after our marriage, he started active duty, extending his service to full time.

After he enlisted and we relocated, our marriage seemed fast-tracked. With nonstop training and weekly military exercises, our union took an unforeseen turn; deployment was upon us.

On the day of his deployment, duffel bags and weapons cases lined the ground in front of a row of white buses. I sobbed as he walked away from me. I wasn't prepared for the feelings of anxiety and loneliness that ensued. While I was proud of his service, I feared for his life.

We spoke on the phone and sent letters to each other

We connected mostly through phone calls and letters I wrote when he was away. He was stationed in a very dangerous area. The stress of waiting for phone calls took a toll on all the spouses in the unit, not just me. We'd call each other when we hadn't heard from our partner to ask whether another had heard from theirs. The quiet of a missing phone call rang out loud in my mind.

Back then, deployments were 12 months long, with two weeks of leave within the tour. My husband chose to take leave in his ninth month of deployment; that way, his tour was nearly complete when he returned to war. We met up in his hometown of Chicago. I rented a car and reserved a hotel near his family's home. As Murphy's law would have it, his flight from overseas was delayed, leaving me alone to meet his family for the first time. We had been married for more than a year by then.

When he arrived in Chicago, I was nervous. I hadn't seen him in person in nine months. I had prepared for this day for a long time. I brought food, alcohol, and lingerie. I was ready for the honeymoon I never got.

Our first night in Chicago was hell. Without warning, my husband began to scream as his body curled onto the floor, covered in sweat. I had no idea what was happening. I tried to comfort him, but I didn't know how. I just sat on the floor, holding him until he calmed down. Afterward, we never spoke about what happened.

He came home after 12 months

Finally, the deployment was over, and everyone from the unit returned home safely. My husband began overindulging on alcohol. The constant parties, barbecues, and celebrations masked his growing problem: unaddressed mental wounds from combat. We regularly fought, some fights leading to him being removed from our home. He was eventually diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

The effects of war on relationships are often overlooked. The reality of war and deployment can strain even the strongest relationships. When two people enter a marriage, they usually do so with the expectation that they will be able to be together and build a life together. But in military life, that expectation shifts drastically. Deployment means a partner may be away for weeks, months, or even years. This can influence communication, intimacy, and the relationship's stability.

I wish I had a chance to prepare for the lifestyle change and challenges I would face. Yet I am thankful I decided to marry someone, 15 years ago, willing to make sacrifices for his country.

Marla Bautista is the author of "My Thoughts Abandoned" and a coauthor of "Brave Women, Strong Faith." She is also a freelance writer and TEDx speaker.