I recently interviewed Nicole and her husband Bo on my latest podcast episode.
The Whites, are an “average” military couple that has figured out how to make it work despite the hardships. After about a decade of military life, Bo and Nicole are settling down in Traverse City, MI, and trying to re-establish what “normal” looks like for them. Nicole is a gifted writer and we are honored to spotlight her story!
BEAUTY ON THE BATTLEFIELD: One military spouse’s story.
By Nicole White
Every girl has an idea of how she’ll meet “The One”. She imagines the perfect date, her dream wedding. Any ideas I had about meeting my future husband vanished when I met Bo.
I was a year from graduating from school in southern California; he was enrolled in an intense military course in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After a whirlwind weekend, we had parted ways—each back to our own lives, for the time being, but carrying this burning new reality that everything was about to change.
Eight weeks after we met, Bo and I eloped.
Some might say the way we met and fell in such sure, quick love was luck, or a fluke, or something more cynical. We call it providence.
Our faith journeys have been so intertwined in our relationship, it’s impossible to separate the two. All I knew was that God was calling me to step out in faith, to relinquish control, and to surrender to His lead. If I could do that, this man was my gift. If I couldn’t, I would lose him.
We’ll celebrate our 12th anniversary this year.
At the time, I knew becoming a military spouse would require sacrifice but it was more heart-wrenching and exhilarating than my 21-year-old self could have ever imagined. I had no idea how much it would wreck me, or how much it would make me come alive.
Being a military spouse is a special kind of roller coaster. You’re not only saying “I do” to a spouse; you are saying “I do” to Uncle Sam, and I don’t think it’s uncommon to feel like a third wheel in certain seasons.
As a military spouse, my ring was a symbol that my husband and I were serving not just each other but a higher entity. This entity was the first priority, one we promised to put above our own comfort and desires. My career, my dreams, and my expectations were no longer equal to that of my husband’s.
All of a sudden, we weren’t two people making decisions for two people. We made decisions for something bigger. My feminist mind and hard-charging career mentality had to relearn what I expected my life to look like over and over again through the years, and I can’t say it wasn’t a struggle.
But there is also an indescribable pride in that service and commitment. We were both capable of doing a job that needed to be done, and we did it.
I have always held dear Edmund Burke’s quote: “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” My husband clearly stepped up to that calling and it has always been a deep source of pride to stand alongside him in it.
Leading this kind of life also brings with it perks that are hard to gain elsewhere. We learned early on to appreciate our time together, to live in the moment and accept the fragility of life.
Between deployments and training, Bo is typically gone 6-8 months of the year. That time creates innumerable opportunities for our community to become family. We have been surrounded by incredible groups of like-minded people that not only know exactly what this life entails but how to support one another through it.
We learn how to quickly integrate, make new friends, and see and meet people in need. We learn how to step out of our comfort zone to be brave and push boundaries, to seek out solutions and change. And we learn never to give up, regardless of the battlefield we find ourselves on.
We’ve weathered some big storms, Bo and I ….
Some have felt like a twister from which there was no way to rebuild—financially, relationally, and recently, our child’s cancer diagnosis. I’ve read, though, that the “better” in marriage often comes after the “worse”, and I believe it.
Through these struggles, we have learned to wake up each day choosing each other no matter what the day brings. It’s not based on emotion, circumstance or that season’s reality, but on a deep-seated belief that we are better together.
That ultimately, all of the work and the pain, the surrender, and the sacrifice…is resoundingly worth it.
That what is forged in the fire comes out breathtakingly beautiful.
What incredible beauty we would miss out on if we weren’t willing to walk through the fire. Good things in life don’t come easy; you fight for them. We have learned to fight for our marriage just as we fight for our country.
And part of that fight, for me, has always been—ironically— letting go. From the very moment I met Bo, I knew two things: God had given him to me, and I was most definitely not in control.
I knew the type of work Bo would do in the military, and I had no guarantees God wouldn’t take him away. I had to accept that. I had to relinquish Bo if asked.
He was my gift, yes, but he couldn’t be my everything. He wasn’t the one that would complete me, or protect me, or even lead me. I couldn’t lose myself in him or lose sight of who my true Love was.
C.S. Lewis once said: “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”
I’m not sure he was thinking of marriage when he said it, but I think it applies. If I clung to Bo and focused solely on him, I would be sorely disappointed. If I aimed higher and made my relationship with God my focus and my heartbeat, my marriage would stand a chance.
Our marriage, like our life, is messy and complicated. I’m not going to pretend that we have it all together.
But we share a desire to work for a marriage that continues to defy expectations—ours and the worlds. We have a hunger for more. We refuse mediocre. We become braver and more resilient. We learn what love the action is, and aren’t so controlled by love the emotion.
And we are overcome by the depth and breadth of what our love is becoming when we fix our eyes on Him. It truly does get better and better!
Being a military wife has affirmed all that the Bible has taught me on love: this ever-shifting, ever-evolving balance of sacrifice and surrender, waging war and basking in the beauty. And like our service to this country, our marriage is so, so worth it.
Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your story.
You can follow Nicole’s journey via social media here: