TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – “To quote Big Sean, ‘the grass ain’t always greener on the other side, it’s green where you water it.’”
Capt. Broderick Lockett, 21st Airlift Squadron director of staff, gives a long, sideways look at his wife, Capt. Aisha Lockett, 60th Air Mobility Wing executive officer, in a way that asks the question, “Did my wife just sum up our six-year marriage with a Big Sean lyric?” The answer: an equally long, sideways look at her husband, and a smile, soon breaking into a laugh that says, “What better way to do it?”
The Locketts came to Travis Air Force Base, California, in 2015 and in that time, what grass they have found themselves on has been plentifully watered. From Broderick’s participation in the Tuskegee Airmen heritage flight to Aisha’s work in organizing a fun run in support of the Air Force Assistance Fund, their mark on Travis has been one of compassion, hard work and pride. But being a dual-military couple hasn’t been without its challenges.
“There’s always the possibility of being sent to different bases when you’re a military couple,” said Broderick. “We’ve been fortunate so far as to be able to go through our careers in tandem, but we’re sensible enough to realize that as our careers progress, there might be sacrifice that goes along with it. But we have each other and that’s always going to be enough to weather whatever comes our way.”
Broderick and Aisha met at Tuskegee University, Alabama in 2004. Finding themselves in the same Reserve Officers’ Training Corps flight, it wasn’t before long that the two became a couple, starting on the road that would bring them both to Travis.
“Even before we dated, he (Broderick) would always give me advice, look out for me and take care to keep me on the right path,” said Aisha. “He came into this relationship knowing all the good, all the bad and wanted to be here anyway.”
In 2012, they married. In an effort to stay near each other, the couple married in a state courthouse and had a separate ceremony for what they call their “new-school” wedding. Not a couple to ignore dates, they acknowledge the celebration of both anniversaries which leads to some unexpected, if not, exclusive benefits.
“We get each other gifts for both days,” said Aisha.
“Well, she gets gifts for both,” smiled Broderick, before quickly admitting his joke through nervous laughter after eyeing his wife’s unamused glare.
Dual-military marriages–an active duty member married to another active duty member or to a member of the Air Force Reserves or Air National Guard–are becoming more common, with the highest percentage of these couples being in the Air Force, according to a 2008 Department of Defense study on military families.
The success of these relationships don’t come about from a lack of trying, though, said Aisha.
“We have work curfews,” she said. “We spent our early careers charging hard into our work. We were ambitious. We were staying at work until 9, 10 o’clock at night. We found out very quickly, though, that that affects your marriage. It’s important to create those balances because as important as it is for us to serve in the military, if you don’t have the person you love in your corner—if you don’t have the resiliency that comes with that fact—then what are you really bringing to the fight?”
The military offers many free resources to dual military marriages including help from Military OneSource, the Chaplain Corps and the Airman and Family Readiness Center.
Resiliency, too, as much as anything else, is important to a dual military marriage, according to Broderick. Just as resiliency is derived from that love, it can also be that love that tests it.
“Nobody’s going to tell you that being away from your spouse for months on end is a walk in the park,” said Broderick. “Deployments aren’t everyone’s cup of tea even when you’re single, but when you have someone waiting for you at home, it offers a whole new dimension to the hardships that can sometimes come with them. But I’ve found the person I’m willing to work for and at the end of the day, we’re there for one another. Always will be.”
Aisha shoots her husband a pair a finger guns. He shoots a pair back.
Since September 11, 2001, deployments are the rule, not the exception, for military families. In an atmosphere of almost constant uncertainty, it’s hard to find the time to invest in the future and lay down the foundation off of what that future will be built.
But nobody said this was going to be easy, said Aisha.
“The only thing consistent for us is change,” said Aisha, shrugging her shoulders. “But that’s not always a bad thing. Change forces growth and you don’t grow by staying comfortable. People don’t always realize how integral adaptation is to resiliency. Adapting to deployments or moves or each other. The way we deal and move on from that thrash is what being resilient boils down to, and what makes a marriage strong.”
“The main thing is, what are you going to do with the time you do have with your spouse,” Aisha said. “Are you going to get mad at your husband for folding the laundry wrong or accidentally forgetting to keep up on the cable bill?”
“Or are you going to appreciate how he tried—appreciate the fact he cared enough to make the gesture? Are you going to water that grass?”
Aisha takes a second to slowly side-eye Broderick, who hides his face behind his hands and laughs.