Military love stories: it’s something about that uniform, the thrill of the unknown lifestyle filled with just a little bit of danger that draws people and spouses to the military. There are people that fall in love with the military and then there are the people who fall in love with those people. As the saying goes, “first comes love, then comes marriage.” The military lifestyle can break love stories, but it can also strengthen some. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, the holiday of love, here are a few love stories from some deployed spouses who remain in love with their military members even after years gone by.
Sharing their love stories today are Brianna and Master Sgt. Timothy Bennett, 5th Civil Engineer Squadron, Tianna & Staff Sgt. Richard Lane, 5 CES, and Shakeera & Arman 1st Class Benjamin Miller, 791st Maintenance Squadron. All of the couples have different stories, but all have to share their love apart for this season of life.
How They Met:
Brianna and Tim met while bowling at Seymour Johnson AFB. Their hilarious “meet-cute” is filled with a movie-worthy mix up about Brianna’s stepdad and grandfather and an innocent practical joke. In the end, Tim ended up asking Brianna out on a date via email to Brianna’s stepdad’s boss! “I agreed to go on a date, bowling of course, and then break it to him gently the joke my dad played on him. He took it very well laughing and I told him how could I say no to someone who went through so much trouble to meet me? I knew he was something special right then,” beamed Brianna.
Tianna and Richard started as friends, but found life together just made more sense. Tianna said, “Not love at first sight but he sure did put a sparkle in my eyes. We were just friends at first. It wasn’t until 2010 we decided to try the relationship thing. He proposed in 2012 and we moved to Columbus, Ohio, and shortly found out we were having our first child.”
Shakeera and Ben met while working at McDonald’s as young teenagers. It wasn’t until they connected a few years later that sparks flew. Shakeera mentioned, “In our younger years we didn’t notice each other until I moved, came back and began working there again at 18. He was so kind and treated me like an old friend, it was touching.”
So in love, Brianna and Tim were faced with a major hardship of military ways of life right off the bat: orders. While they originally planned to wait until after Tim got back from his one-year assignment in Korea to get married, a last minute change of heart led them to tie the knot as soon as possible. “We love each other and there was no need to wait, so we decided to inform our family and whoever could make it in on short notice was welcome!” On January 15th, 2010, the couple married at the local courthouse in Wayne County, North Carolina. Brianna was 20 and Tim was 24. “Our ceremony took all of 10 minutes, we both were crying and shaking with excitement…we left later that day for our last minute ‘honeymoon,’ over a three-day weekend, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And then two weeks later he left for Korea,” explained Brianna.
Tianna and Richard had a quick courthouse wedding on February 15, 2013, but celebrated their marriage with family and friends in April of that same year. “It was in Morgantown, West Virginia, and [we] had about 100 of our family & friends to celebrate with us. Even though I was eight months pregnant, it was the best night ever to have everyone celebrating our love with us!” gushed Tianna.
On the first day of January 2011, Shakeera walked down the aisle to marry Ben in Wilmington, North Carolina. Shakeera explained that it was memorable because the wedding started much later than planned. “I was 30 minutes late to the wedding because my hair wasn’t finished and I was so embarrassed! The fact that my husband waited for me (and my guest didn’t leave either) symbolizes the great patience he has for me.”
As a dependent growing up, the military lifestyle was not new to Brianna; however, she shared that being a spouse and dealing with months or even years without her partner was a different challenge. “When you’re separated like that for six months to a year at a time, expecting everything to go back to how it was when you last saw each other is unrealistic. You each grow more independent and figuring out how to work together again can be difficult, but so worth it when you’re with the person you love.” Brianna admitted that every deployment is different, especially now when the couple has young children, but she continues to say, “Choosing to communicate and having the hard discussions have only made us stronger and grow as individuals and a couple.”
Tianna said she and Richard were in civilian life for the first several years of their marriage when he joined the military in 2019. Tianna explained how the past few years in Minot have had a constructive effect on their marriage. “Military life has helped Richard and I grow together even more. Being so far away from family, you find you need your spouse more than ever. We have learned to understand each other differently than before in the three years we have been in Minot. We built through those [tough times] rather than breaking down.”
Shakeera also experienced marriage before the military and then during it. She said, “Basic Military Training was the longest we have ever been apart since our wedding day. I feel that his choice to join the military has strengthened our marriage because we’ve had moments to reflect on what’s important to us as individuals, a couple and parents in our time apart.” Although Shakeera and Ben are currently experiencing their first long-term deployment, they are taking it in stride. Shakeera said, “I’m thankful to know love in a way that I believe we all long for. To feel seen, valued, encouraged in my desires, and have my hand held when the light of life seems dim.”
These stories and many like them prove that “falling in love” can be fleeting. Remaining committed, dedicated and in love in the military is hard, but not impossible. Thank you to these deployed spouses for sharing these beautiful love stories and showing us that love in the military can overcome and prove to be long-lasting.