My husband wasn’t a soldier when I met him, far from it actually. When we first locked eyes, he was a 19-year-old with more hair than the military would ever allow, singing karaoke at a college party.

Three years after that meeting, we were married. He was finalizing his degree in political science while I was the career woman and breadwinner. I didn’t mind — I am older than he is, had already finished school and was working my dream job in the art world.

Upon his graduation, he struggled with finding employment and worked odd jobs here and there. On more than one occasion he suggested the Army as an option. It’s worth mentioning that he is an Army brat and was very familiar with the lifestyle and opportunities. I, on the other hand, had a miniature panic attack each time he brought it up. You see, all I knew about the military was that my dad served in Vietnam and my grandfathers in WW2, and they still had invisible scars from the experience. The idea of sending my husband off to war, living apart, and potentially becoming a widow were fears in the forefront of my mind.

Let’s Try This Army Thing

We continued our journey, me with a fulfilling career while he worked as many part-time shifts as possible. My husband always kept the military as a back-pocket option, but I felt that we still had other less drastic and dangerous routes we could try first.

Everything changed when we had our baby. My first week at work after maternity leave broke my heart. I had always wanted children and hoped to stay at home with them while they were young. My job, which once seemed paramount, now paled in comparison to my love for this tiny human being.

Every night I was in tears over the situation. My husband said, “If I join the Army, you can stay at home with our son.” I tell you, for the first time, his military proposal was less like a storm cloud and more like a ray of hope.

I agreed and apologized for letting my fears hold us back from this opportunity for so long. We agreed that I had my turn with a career, and now it was his turn, and I was going to fully support him in the journey, just has he supported me.

Fantasy vs. Reality

I have been an Army wife for for five years of our eight-year marriage. This unique lifestyle I once feared so greatly has proven to be incredibly rewarding. If I had it to do over, I would have pushed my fears aside and trusted his initial suggestion. This experience has been truly rewarding and valuable to our entire family.

We have lived in Germany, traveled Europe, I’ve become a writer and we have met amazing friends. My husband and I have both had our hand at being the stay-at-home parent and at being the breadwinner. I feel it has helped our understanding of each other’s work and value, and strengthened our sense of teamwork.

For anyone else dreading this big step, I would recommend you talk with people who have lived the lifestyle.

There are numerous benefits and joys that exist when you say “I do” to the military. Just like with any relationship, you need to weigh out the pros and cons, trust your gut and — sometimes — you just have to take the plunge.




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A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” former Army wife Jackie Toops enjoys exploring the various facets of her personality by chronicling military life, world travels, family, her love of the arts and more. Her academic background is in the fields of Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and she has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. Jackie’s articles have been featured on Army Wife 101, Wall Street International Magazine, SoFluential, HomeAway, Military Biz Connection and FamiliesGo. While stationed in Germany, she regularly discussed her articles on-air with the Armed Forces Network in Wiesbaden. A mother of two, Jackie enjoys coffee, freelance writing, languages and discovering new ways to express herself. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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