Navy Wife’s Letter To Her Husband At His Retirement: YDU

ydu heart

Why didn’t you tell me that (except for the flowers) spouses are not really recognized at retirement ceremonies?

My husband of 25 years calmly told me that there is not really a place for spouse recognition in the retirement ceremony. He wants to know if they did recognize me, what would I have to say at his retirement?

As far as I was concerned, it was a retirement for OUR entire family. This is the letter I wrote to him that I want to share with you:

To my Groom,

I’m retiring from the Navy, too. Today 
I want you to recognize the accomplishments, the trust, the friendship, the humor we had that made your career, our marriage, and our life possible.

We had opportunity and growth. We changed, compromised, and dedicated ourselves to the Navy and to our family. We socialized with the best, the average, and the worst of people.

navy chief weathersWe adjusted to deployments and homecomings. We raised our boys to be responsible, loving, and caring individuals who are very uniquely different but very much the same.

We argued, fought, disagreed, caved, and stood firm for what we believed.  Yet always came together.

We struggled, prospered, and educated ourselves to provide a stable environment for our family.

We explored and adjusted to the military life. We moved, traveled, and started over.

There were no mountains high enough to stop us from climbing.

Our children adapted to changing schools, leaving friends, and meeting new ones. We did so willingly, not kicking and screaming.

The kids and I watched you grow, advance, and share your knowledge with those around you. There were reviews, midnight calls, and unexpected deployments. We watched you develop and then develop others.

We instilled values, morals and ethics in one another as well as our children. We created traditions, experienced vacations, and we loved and cherished one another.

We did not go through life, we lived it, and we grew from it, and experienced it. The military made many things possible. The Navy taught us unity. We embraced it and had FUN doing it.

Going forward, I want you to cherish all of those memories.

Remember the good times; do not focus on the negative. Remember what the military instilled in you, the respect you give others, the work ethics embedded, and give credit where credit is due. Take that with you in whatever you do.

It’s not what you GO through Mark; it’s what you GROW through. I know you will achieve whatever you put your mind to. Know that I am proud of you. Know that I want the best for you. Just like you, the Navy, our life together, our family, is all I know. Change is good. Embrace it.

On your day, my day, and our children’s day, I want you to remember.

Remember that we laughed and we danced. We stood together as a family. We were one. We stuck together through good and bad times. We supported one another and we were happy. It was your passion, your drive, and your dedication encompassed with the support of your family that made your career a success.

Today, your retirement is about US. We together accomplished this as a family. Recognize it, own it, and give credit to the ones who loved, supported, and stood by you while you provided the very freedom we have today.

We were one and together we will retire. I want you to relish this moment, to feel honorable, a sense of accomplishment, to reflect back and remember and then I want you to exhale.

I want you to enjoy your day, our day. Congratulations!!!! You deserve it, and so do we.

I truly am so happy for you and I will always love you.

Your Bride

Donna Weathers is a Navy wife currently living in Virginia Beach.  Her husband Mark served 30 years in the US Navy and is a Master Chief in Damage Control.  The couple has two sons:  Dallas, a freshman in high school and Dakota who just joined the Navy.   

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Why Didn't You Tell Me
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  • Theresa Bythebay

    Congratulations to your husband and to your entire family. What a beautifully written letter. I must say, however, that I believe you should let your husband’s retirement day be about HIM. Let him have his ONE day. You will be honored with flowers, and rightly so. Your family can spend the rest of your lives celebrating your personal accomplishments together, privately. Congratulations to your husband and the rest of his family.

    • Lynne

      His entire career has been about HIM. He would not be where he is without the support of his wife, and kids. She is the glue that holds the family together while he goes about his business. Without her, he would have been out of the Military a LONG time ago, and without a retirement.

    • Kelli

      I agree. I do believe that it is a group effort to sustain a marriage and a well-adjusted family but, it’s the husband’s job to turn around and thank his wife.

  • can’t be serious…

    My husband doesn’t expect to walk across the stage and receive recognition from my college for not leaving me while I pursued 2 degrees. Why should the Military recognize me for playing my position as a supportive wife? I’m quite sure my spouse would have gotten his accomplishments with or without me. When someone is self-motivated come hell or high water they will get there and if you get in the way they will replace you, people do it everyday! This takes riding a coattail to the extreme and I’m embarrassed. But I can see that this will be another long drawn out thread of spouses agreeing and strongly disagreeing. So I’ll just say I will just respectfully disagree and get back to chasing after my own accolades.

  • J S DuBeck

    It must be a new Navy! At my husband’s retirement, I was recognized by him and the Command for all the sacrifices my family and I endured for 21 years. I was so proud of him and the Command for all their support. I guess the CT’s are a unique rating in the Navy. It was a family and we all supported each other.

  • jacey_eckhart

    Our society teaches that modern marriage is two completely independent people who happen to share a mortgage and divide childcare exactly down the middle. That is just a dumb idea.

    It is good for each of the partners to be whole and to have their own work and their own interests, but the strength comes from sharing a life, sacrificing for each other, helping each other, depending on each other.. . Anyone who has been married 25 years like Donna would tell you that.

    And she is telling you that. She is telling her Groom that even though the ceremony is about him, the Navy is a life they all lived together. They all shared aspects of that life because that is what marriage demands. Consequently, they are all leaving that life (except the son who just joined the Navy himself) together.

    In my job, I watch couples navigate the end of a military career all the time. The two years that surround retirement are rocky. I’ve noticed how the couples who manage this transition best are the ones in which the family sees the military as a shared life.

    The accolades and the medals and the certificates and the shadow boxes all belong to the servicemember. The military life is shared by the family. Those are two different things. And we ought to be able to ask for one without being accused of demanding the other.

  • mel

    I agree that the military is a shared life because everyone in the family is impacted by the military’s demands on the servicemember. What I see as the issue is the difference in how we view the reason for the sacrifices we make. On one side, there are those that believe their sacrifices are made because of the military. On the other side, there are those that believe their sacrifices are made because of their marriage.

    • mel

      If the sacrifices are because of the military, then yeah, the person is going to feel entitled to acknowledgement by the military for what they have endured. If the sacrifices are because of the marriage, then the person is going to be ok with that retirement ceremony being all about the servicemember. A mention of thanks from the servicemember for their spouse sticking by them through all the challenges of military life, for many, will be enough. My husband’s command, or the Marine Corps, doesn’t owe me anything for being a wife to my husband. Regardless of my husband’s occupation, I would deal with whatever our lifestyle demands to be with him. My reasons for dealing with military life is purely selfish. It’s as simple as wanting to spend my life with my husband and doing what I need to do to accomplish that.


    In response to “can’t be serious”
    Why did you even reply? Why are you not busy chasing your own accolades and patting yourself on the back? You have a very negative response to a very positive letter. Why people, such as you have the need to make someone look bad to only make yourself appear better is beyond me. You have no consideration for the military spouse and further do not support their sacrifices and dedication to the military. I have a business degree and a degree in Human Resource Management. Further, many spouses have a degree. Moreover, many who are not married and never been married have a degree….some with, some without support. However, when you are married, with or without children, support and dedication to one another in pursuing careers is expected and comes without saying. In fact, when I walked to get those degrees my husband was deployed. However, the support in my quest to achieve those goals was never far from home. In my marriage, we support one another. We dedicate our lives and make necessary sacrifices and adjustments to insure the success of everyone in our family. Therefore, I give kudos to my entire family for my success. Unlike you, an individual takes FULL credit for their success. For the record…..I did join the military and I did serve as a supportive spouse and still do. I joined when I signed my name to that Marriage Certificate, as do ALL military wives. I give you Kudos for your success that you achieved alone and recognize only you in doing so. Lastly, I am not sure why I replied. I sure am not in habit of getting in the mud with people in general. Negative or not.

    • Can’t be serious

      I have no consideration because I have I decide to have a life of my own outside my husbands shadow? I do thank my husband for his support Donna, but do I think the military should give me recognition outside of the support they give ALL military members monthly, annually, no. Mel said it best, my reasons for wanting to be with my husband are purely selfish, I sacrifice for our marriage not for the military as the rest of our civilian counterparts do everyday. You are right I’m proud of my accomplishments, and if you feel bad about that, sounds like you should be earning your own recognition and not just holding your degree. Just because the military is not stable doesn’t mean you have to settle. This is why FB pages like shameful dependas etc have unlimited amounts of material to choose from for their page.

  • Serving too

    “Can’t be serious”
    I signed my name on the dotted line when I signed a Marriage Certificate. Therefore, served in the Military. I deserve to be recognized in the face of my spouse for doing so.
    A degree….. Let me tell you mine…and just to name a few…I’m a Physician, an Architect in many fields, a Chef, a Domestic House Keeper, a Teacher, a Veterinarian, a Taxi Driver, a Coach, a Psychiatrist, a Psychologist, a Environmental Specialist, an Artist, a Scientist, and many more. Further and fore most, I am a Mother, Father, and a supportive and dedicative wife and a proud owner of a college degree in two fields. Did I mention I also have a job that I also earn an income? I could not have achieved all of the above with out the love and support of my family. I best be recognized for the same. Props to all Military personnel, friends and families on a job well done.

    • toopoorformensa

      I will never downplay the sacrifices my wife makes, but you did not serve IN THE MILITARY. You serve your country as a military spouse, yes, but the two are inherintly different. If you had a 20 year career that your husband fully supported it would still be YOUR career, no matter how much he supported you in it. Putting a million “job descriptions” that any mother of any child would also have doesn’t make your argument more valid, either. Thank you for supporting your husband, I’m sure he thanks you all the time as he should. However, unless you serve IN THE MILITARY, a marriage certificate does not give you the right to say you “best be recognized the same”. You need to be recognized separately for a separate thing, that is all

      • Served2

        I joined the military several years prior to my spouse. Once he joined, had a child, and his career took off I got out to support him and our family. I could have left him with the sole responsibility of being a single active duty parent like so many are but I decided to stay. Both of us have achieved our educational goals. Only one of us has achieved our career goals, at this time. So what do you say to someone who has served IN THE MILITARY and took off the outer uniform to serve their family? How about to someone who took care of the families HIS military members left behind? You know, those who put out the home front fires so the service member could concentrate on doing his job. What I do believe is that you nor the female who responded earlier truly understand what some spouses do for THE MILITARY while you are gone.

    • ProperNavyWife

      Wrong. You are indeed serving the military, but not serving IN the military. Very big, and very important, difference.

  • Wess

    Great letter!!!! Thank you for your dedication!! I am a fan of your words. You touched me and forced me to reflect on my own life. I soon will retire and would have with or without my wife. Although it would not have been as easy or as loving and I would have not received care packages (ha-ha), had my children, and my wonderful life she so successfully provides. My wife, who I love and support more than I can express in words has supported me throughout my career and did the same things that you speak of proudly. I will be sure to recognize her. I do not normally read spouse buzz, but my wife had your letter open when I went to use the computer. She cried and I must say I might have myself. Your tribute to the service member should be recognized. To be supportive in ANY marriage for 25 years and the dedication to work things through should speak loudly to everyone. I would have used this letter during my own retirement had my wife not seen it. It said everything I want to say and more. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it touches others as it has me. Ignore the negativity. You are a great admiration for many. Keep your spirits about your family. They are lucky to have you.
    Admiral W. Stephens

  • GBS

    The Coast Guard has long recognized that a successful career is attained with the support and dedication of the service member’s family. At retirement ceremonies, w/the member’s concurrence, the command provides recognition certificates and plaques to the retiree’s family members in appreciation of their contribution and support to the service member during the member’s career.

  • Donna

    FANTASTIC….AS it should be. Thanks for your post.

  • brittneylouise

    … i have no words. being married to a man in the military does not mean you serve. my husband just read a few of these comments and in his words “why would she say that. she doesn’t serve. that’s disgusting”. Seriously. it blows my mind that people think this way. yes being a military wife is hard. it tiring and draining and emotionally overwhelming at times. But i would NEVER expect to be recognized for the things my husband has done/will do, just because i married him and waited for him. get your own identity. be your own person. i couldnt imagine wanting to live in my husbands shadow like that.

    • ProperNavyWife

      Many milspouses these days don’t know how. They feel entitled to everything their husband earns, and want special recognition because they CHOSE a harder marriage and life than the average civilian. Newsflash to said spouses: you don’t get an award and a cookie for everything you do in the adult world.

      • Wcg

        Seriously. Don’t be such an uncaring putz. Kudos. You are superior and special. You don’t know what others have to deal with so don’t think you are all that plus a bag of chips. Compassion even if you don’t agree is a good hyping. Each person’s journey is their own, How can you judge what someone else goes through? Just because you are a super spouse doesn’t man someone else is. Be kind even if you can’t relate.

    • timsarmywifey

      I respectfully disagree spouses and families most certainly DO serve, perhaps in a different capacity but they DO. Without them our military men and women could not do what they do and those with good sense acknowledge that. Wanting your spouse to appreciate you and your family for the sacrifices you have made over the years is not a bad thing. Frankly the military community would cease to function as it does without all the volunteer hours put in by spouses and family members as well and SHOULD recognize that contribution. The military is NOT just another job — it’s a lifestyle for the whole family.

  • C g

    This could have been written by me. My husband works(ed) for a state agency and we moved 11 times for his job. His job always came first. Then his hobbies. Fortunately our kids were and are wonderful. He is retiring to take a better paying job after devoting 39 years to our state, I often felt like a military wife, Our family has been threatened with bodily harm ,etc. to know that other wives feel that they too should be appreciated is validating. My husband was not in harms way as yours was but our family had to deal with a part time father. Sometimes being close by yet unavailable is as difficult as a father being a world away, I thank you for your sacrifice and I thank you for voicing what I never had the guts to say

  • timsarmywifey

    Just found this. Great post! I have always been dissapointed by the lack of recognition for both the service member and their spouses! Somehow a ceremony that takes only a few minutes just doesn’t seem enough to sum up 20+ years of service and sacrifice!

  • Retired Marine

    Hi Donna,

    As a retired Marine, I salute both you and your husband! Your husband should consider himself very blessed to have found a woman like yourself. Your letter serves as an example of my previous sentence; I found it to be very heartfelt, inspiring, and reflective of your and his time in the Navy.

    Having honorably served our Country for twenty-years as both an enlisted man and an officer, in combat and peacetime, and spent a significant amount of time away from my family, I have earned the right to comment on your statement. Unless anyone has accomplished what both your husband and I have, they have no right whatsoever to express their views on how a military retirement ceremony should be conducted. If they do, they’re speaking out of ignorance. I firmly believe that you are correct – when your husband retired from the Navy, so did you. I would challenge any retired service member to disagree with my statement – I don’t think we’ll find any. They know the demands and sacrifices that both you and your family had to endure.

    The military is a unique organization – unlike any other. It demands a tremendous amount from both a husband and wife, as both need to be committed to the military “way of life” in order for their marriage to survive.

    A few statistics that were published in the Air Force Time in April 2012:

    1. The divorce rate military-wide is the highest it’s been since 1999; 30,000 marriages ended in divorce by the end of fiscal 2011.

    2. When marriages are crumbling, it affects readiness, it affects unit morale, it affects unit cohesion. When someone is going through a divorce, it makes it very hard for them to focus on their jobs. When an airman is going through a divorce, it affects all the airmen they work with.

    3. Military marriages have been affected by the fact that we have been engaged in combat operations for the past decade. This is not only because of the conflict itself and the fear that they may never see their loved ones again, but also because of the long periods of time spent apart from him or her.

    So should a spouse be recognized at a retirement ceremony because of his or her commitment to the military way of life? ABSOLUTELY! Stand proud – you’ve earned it!

  • Abraham Campoy

    Great post after 42 years of service I agree The family make it a great life