What it’s like when your boyfriend is deployed overseas (plus a surprise interview)

At just 17 years old, Macy fell in love with Aaron. They were best friends immediately. But just a few months later, he entered the Air Force and was soon deployed. Now, almost 4 years later, Macy and Aaron have stuck together through his 6-month deployment to Kuwait, and now, a deployment in Afghanistan. Learn what it’s like for Macy (and Aaron!) to try to grow a relationship against all odds.

How did you and Aaron meet?

It really wasn’t a love story. We met through mutual friends. I was 17 and he was 19. We started long distance. He was in Pittsburgh and I was in San Antonio. We talked for about 6 months before we first met in person.

I think that starting off long distance really helped us through the deployment. He came to San Antonio for basic training and we were both really nervous. We were really close even though we’d never really met. And when we met, we were just best friends. It was easy.

So, tell me the timeline of your relationship.

He entered the military, then he went to basic for two months. He couldn’t use his phone so we’d write letters to each other.

Wow, you wrote letters?

Yeah I kinda liked it. I used to wait by the mailbox for his letter. It was really old school. He sent one of the wallet sized photos of him in his uniform and it was just really cute. That was before we even met.

Then on our first date, he spent $100 each way on a taxi for me for me from my house to his military base.Then he paid for my dinner and also bought me some shirts. He spent like $400 on me on our first date!

He spilled his water all over the table on our first date.

That’s crazy.

I felt bad, but it was so cute. Oh, and he spilled his water all over the table on our first date. He was so nervous. He did it on our first two dates actually! I was like, I hope this isn’t a regular thing.

That’s hilarious!

I realized he was just as clumsy as I am, so that’s another thing we have in common.

Too cute. So what happened next?

He was in basic for a few months then he was stationed in Abilene, Texas. I graduated high school then went to Abilene for college. He put in San Antonio so he could be near me, even though all his family is in Pittsburgh. I felt bad he got stationed in the middle of nowhere, so I decided I’d go to school where he was. Since he did that for me, I can do this for him.

The first month, seeing each other every day, was just so weird. It was fun but we weren’t used to it. We were much better apart, so we’ve had to learn to be better together. We were only together for a month before he was deployed to Kuwait.

What was that like when he was deployed to Kuwait?

That was really difficult. We went through a rough patch because neither of us knew how to communicate while he was deployed. We had a bump and ended up breaking up for a month. Eventually we realized we needed each other.

How long was he in Kuwait for?

Six months. It ended up being easy to wait for him because I knew we were going to be together when he got back. The first deployment was easier because Kuwait is safer. I wasn’t too worried about him over there.

If I don’t hear from him for a few hours, I get really scared.

So after he got back from his deployment in Kuwait, what happened?

He came back to Abilene and we got an apartment together. We’ve just been playing house. Then he got deployed less than a year later. Now he’s in Afghanistan. But he’s coming back in October.

Now that he’s in Afghanistan. I just worry all the time. It’s not like Kuwait. If I don’t hear from him for a few hours, I get really scared. But it’s up to me to be the rock. It’s up to me to be the stable, calm one, which is not my strong suit.

Has this experience helped you become a stronger person?

Little by little. I’m trying. I still have my days, but I think I’m getting better. I don’t think anyone can be totally okay with that though.

So often do y’all get to talk?

We talk every day. He works the night shift which is daytime here. He also has Wi-Fi so that’s really nice. My mind would go crazy if I didn’t get to talk to him.

There’s nothing like hearing his voice.

What would you say is the hardest part about him being deployed?

Just making time for each other. If you’re both busy, it gets hard to talk, so you really have to work at that. Even if it’s just a 5-minute phone call just to say “I love you.” It gets hard when I don’t hear from him for a while. There’s nothing like hearing his voice.

How has this strengthened your relationship?

It’s definitely put us through the ringer. It showed us that the worst is right now. We’ve gotten through so much and the more you go through, the more you make it through, and the more you realize, We’re going to be okay.

We haven’t had any really bad arguments while he’s over there. It’s only when he’s here. We were communicating less when we were together because we got so used to being apart.

How long does he plan to be in the military?

He signed up for a 6-year service, so he’s half-way through. I’m not sure how many more deployments he has — it could be none, it could be 1 or 3. We’re not really sure. It just depends on what the military wants. All we can do is hope. There’s nothing you can do when they say you’re going.

Would you change anything about what you two have been through?

I wouldn’t change anything. I admire him so much for being in the military. He always knew that he wanted to do that. We stick by each other and we support each other. Anything he wants to do is okay with me and vice versa. It’s a blessing and a curse. We make the most of it.

He wants to be a cop when he’s done. All he’s ever wanted to do was protect his family and he calls me his family.

[As we’re wrapping up the interview, Macy starts smiling randomly.]

What are you smiling about?

He’s just so cute. He sent me flowers to work the other day for no reason. Except that he texted me literally 5 minutes before I got them and asked if I got my flowers yet!

Surprise Interview

[When Macy told Aaron that she was being interviewed about their relationship, he asked if I could interview him as well. He loved the idea of sharing their story and wanted to contribute, all the way from Afghanistan.]

What inspired you to go into the military?

Aaron: My inspiration for the military came from my father who was also in the Air Force. He just retired as a Master Sergeant. Other inspirations came from the benefits of getting an education, along with job experience within law enforcement and all the while getting paid.

What was it like to start a relationship right as your military career was beginning?

Aaron: Starting a relationship right at the beginning of my military career was nerve-racking at first knowing that I could be stationed anywhere in the world away from her. The question “what if” was brought up numerous times and every time she worried about it, I needed to reassure her that we would make anything work.

When certain situations come up I think to myself, “What would make her proud?”

How does your relationship with Macy help you get through your deployment?

Aaron: My relationship with Macy is the sole reason I do what I do and try so hard at what I do. She is my most influential source of motivation that I can look to everyday. In every aspect of my day, I can find a way to use her as motivation to either better myself or make the right decision. When certain situations come up I think to myself, “What would make her proud?” I also look to her for the motivation to do whatever I have to for me to ensure I come home in one piece. To me the thought of her losing me and not being there to care for her and protect her kills me on the inside.

What do you think makes you and Macy such a good team?

Aaron: The simple fact that we are almost the same person makes us such a great team.  We both are stubborn, but easy going, at the same time. We both are caring and overprotective of one another’s safety. We both are great articulators and listeners.  We both can trust the other entirely, but still get really jealous. It’s very rare that we don’t see eye to eye on a subject, but if one party doesn’t, then we find trust in that person to have the right intentions in the end.

What’s the hardest part about being away from her and your family and friends?

Aaron: The hardest part about being away from my friends and family is the distance in general. Everyone I know finds me to be a great friend and extremely caring — always putting others before myself. The hardest part of being away from Macy is the simple fact that she is both my best friend in the entire world and part of my family.  We don’t even have to be married for her to be that important in my life.

Is your partner in the military? Have you been through a deployment? Are you a soldier with loved ones back home? Let’s have a conversation in the comments.

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