By Beth Foster

It’s a scene I’ve been part of countless times. The early morning drive to the base, pajama-clad kids in the back seat, my husband sitting next to me in the passenger seat fiddling with his gear in his sea bag. It’s so early the sun isn’t even up yet, but we aren’t really bothered since we haven’t slept much. So much was changing that day that it was hard to shut off the nerves and get some rest the night before.

The base is pretty much deserted this early. I’ve seen it go both ways on days like this – a morning of pomp and circumstance, sailors dressed in service dress blues, families on the pier and a sea of navy blue manning the rails as a ship deploys. Not today. Today it’s just my little family, and I don’t mind. I like that it’s just us. I like that I can follow my husband with my eyes all the way up the pier and onto the ship. I always feel a little guilty when everyone is in uniform – it instantly becomes next to impossible to spot your loved one when everyone is wearing the exact same thing. And I want to know where he is today – because it’s the last time I will likely see him for the next seven months or more. When a ship deploys, you never really know how long it will be. We are typically given an estimated date to expect the ship home, but in 12 years of these deployments, I have only seen my husband’s ship come home on time once.

My husband is a Naval officer, and we are no strangers to sea duty at this point. We’ve been through four long-term deployments and countless underways – intermittent periods of sea service ranging from a few days to months. This day was a deployment day – we knew he would be gone for most of the year. Deployment days are particularly somber because we know what to expect having been through this before – the days are long and unrelenting, and even the most life-changing family crises rarely warrant a trip home for most sailors. As a wife, you know that you are on your own with the children for the foreseeable future. Military families move so often that it is rare to have family or close friends around. You learn to lean on those in your community, but you are largely your own support system while your service member is away.

Even having been through this same scenario countless times before and knowing we can get through this – I get a little teary as he gets out of the car to hug us and say goodbye. The one good thing about having done this so many times before is that I know I can do this. I know we will be okay. I know my husband will come home to us at the end of the deployment. But as I kiss him goodbye and see him walk up the pier, I can’t help but think to myself, “I need my husband.”

Women admitting that they “need” someone else, especially a man in their life, isn’t the most popular opinion in this day in age. It’s just not. We are told by the media, by celebrities, and by culture that we are enough for ourselves. But as a married woman who is well-educated, confident, and capable, I will unashamedly admit that I need my husband.

I unapologetically and unashamedly need my husband.

When I say that I need my husband, I don’t mean that it’s just a need for his paycheck, or for him to be home to do things for me, help take care of the kids, etc. Life is definitely easier when you have someone to share the daily tasks of life with and have a second income. But it’s not just that. Am I confident that I could live as a single mother? Of course. I’m sure my children and I could succeed if that’s the life we were living. There are millions of mothers in this world surviving and thriving in one-parent families. I also know that getting a small taste of what life is like in a single parent household – I unapologetically and unashamedly need my husband.

Have you ever made a large purchase that friends offered their opinions on? It’s nice to talk over that purchase with someone else who is a stakeholder in your household. It’s completely different than having that conversation with a friend. How about needing emotional support? While my friends and family are great, I will never be able to open up to them the way I can to my husband. And there is no one that knows my temperament, personality, and preferences the way my husband does. If I tell him about a hard day parenting, he is just as engaged as I am because those are his children too. He wants to find a solution just as much as I do, and he is as willing as I am to do whatever needs to be done in order to get resolution for our child – whether it’s discipline, grades, or a split lip they got while playing on the playground at school. Our lives are so intertwined that my struggles are his struggles, my victories are his victories and vice versa.

In the Garden of Eden, God created man. When He saw that out of all the animals that He had created, a suitable helper could not be found for Adam, that’s when he put Adam in a deep sleep, took one of the man’s ribs and created the first woman – Eve. When Adam saw her for the first time, The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:23-24

When my husband and I were married, my father-in-law encouraged us at our rehearsal dinner to not only to be soulmates, but also playmates and helpmates. That advice has served us well. Twelve years later, there is no one else I would rather spend time with, would rather talk with, or would rather share the triumphs and trials of life with. Even today, as I take him to base for him to leave us for months, he is still as engaged and as much of a stakeholder in our family life as he is when he is here. The emotional support, knowledge, and wisdom he provides for our family cannot be overstated – even several thousand miles away at sea.

The truth is that we weren’t designed to do it all by ourselves, no matter what culture tells us. We all benefit from helpmates. Doing it all and having it all on your own might be a possibility, but I would argue that it isn’t the goal, nor is it God’s design. When we “leave and cleave” once we are married, we are joined to our spouse without any caveats – God sees us as one. So lean on your spouse – when things are bad, when things are good, when things are status quo. Pray together and put your marriage first. Lean on each other and together lean on God – because there is no other way to lean.

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