Kristle Helmuth is a 26 year-old Army veteran, wife of a wounded warrior, and mother of two children. She is currently working toward her B.S in Communications and digital media. Kristle is the author of Forget The Dog Not The Baby, a blog that shares her personal experiences regarding her husband’s injuries in Iraq, and their journey through healing. Kristle has also been featured in many media outlets including Fort Riley’s award-winning newspaper- The First Infantry Division Post, Familyofavet.com, and SpouseBuzz, a Military.com sponsored blog. She also received a nomination for Military.com’s best U.S. Military Spouse Blog in 2011, and again in 2012. Kristle has spent her free time advocating for military spouses and volunteering for military support organizations including; Operation Homefront, The USO, CAUSE, Hike For Our Heroes, Wounded Warrior Project, Military Warrior Support Foundation, and many others. She has used her broad skill-set to increase awareness of the issues facing our nations wounded heroes, share resources, and provide hope for military families facing the many challenges associated with Military life. Kristle is always there to offer support, encouraging words, and a kind open heart to all Military Spouses.
Years ago, I never thought I would be writing an article about marriage or the military and marriage at that. I was dead set on never getting married and if I did since I was a soldier myself, it would be to a civilian who would support me and follow me around as I traveled the country. We would wait to have kids for a very, very long time, I would retire from the military and we would live happily ever after. Well, you know, God always seems to have a different plan for us, something bigger than ourselves. I met my husband just a few weeks after finishing basic training and AIT; he was a soldier too. We were blessed with the news of pregnancy just a few short months after meeting and were married shortly after that. This is where I believe our story to begin.
Even after two of my three expectations for my life were changed I still thought I knew what marriage was all about. We had it down, we were the perfect team we both got the baby ready in the morning before heading to P.T, we came home and got ready for work and had breakfast together, we went to work, came home, had dinner, bathed the baby, watched a little TV, and we were off to bed. The next day was the same thing over again. We rarely fought, and now I wonder if it was because we didn’t have time. Then he deployed. My world crushed down around me and I had to grow into my independence. With him being 8,000 miles away and unable to talk to me every second of every day, I learned to just give him the highlights reel which almost always caused an issue when he found out more than I told him; it was not good for our marriage. He felt completely out of control, and I felt like I had more power than ever, we started to fall out of our team framework and the further we fell the worse things got between us.
Things only continued to get worse from there. Things got really bad in Iraq for him, I could tell, but he wouldn’t tell me specifics. I would find out things from other people and I suddenly realized this is exactly what I was doing to him. I felt that the closer we got to the end of his fifteen month deployment the worse off things got for our marriage. Shortly after returning home he was diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and a laundry list of less severe but just as annoying ailments. He received these diagnoses right around the same time we found out we were expecting our second child. We had to adjust again.
That was four years ago and we are still adjusting! It took me a while to figure this out, okay, I still don’t have it all the way down, but I’m learning and I think that’s the point. Marriage is a constant thing, people change constantly, situations change constantly. Both internal and external factors can affect your marriage and while civilian marriages face struggles as well, I think military marriages tend to make you face them faster, and as long as both parties are looking in the same direction, it doesn’t really matter how you get there, as long as you get there. Together.