Getting My MRS Degree

Katherine Newsom |
Author

I was just over 19 when we were married, and Marshall was 22, by only a few days. We were babies. And anyone who didn’t know us thought we were cra-zay to get married so young. If you actually did know us and spent time with us, then there was no problem to be seen. We are thankful our parents and siblings saw the love and understood this all. Perception is everything. (And to this day, people still think we’re both 18 and in high school- I’m sure this will be the case for some time).

We got engaged right after spring break my freshman year at Texas A&M, and decided we were getting married that summer 2011. Why such a short engagement? It happened this way because Marshall was on contract and was commissioning into the Marine Corps upon his August graduation. We didn’t know what would happen next. So we decided to have the wedding 2 days after that. And honestly – who wants a long engagement? When you know, you know- you know?

If you’ve been following along, or if you will follow along on my blog, you will see that I’m still in school. If you are any good at math, yes, I am in my senior year now, right on track with where I would be otherwise. I continued at Texas A&M the fall we were married, then that spring we moved to Virginia, so I took that semester off while searching for options to continue school. Everyone who didn’t know me well and saw that I was leaving school said that I would never go back— um, excuse me? I knew I would never let that happen, proved them wrong, transferred it all over to Liberty, and jumped back on board the next summer, 2012. I only took one semester off. And yes, I am on track to graduate right on time, same as before, this May- in less than 2 months!

So if you’ve got any of that so far, I am still getting my academic degree. But I actually already have a degree! I picked up my “’MRS degree” when I married Marshall, and this was set in stone when we moved away from our home state in 2012. (Because I was married and so young and hadn’t finished school at that point!)

I was SO confused the first time I heard the term, because you really have to think about it. M-R-S – what’s that spell? Mrs? Mrs! I have a strong feeling my dad is the one who coined this term, because I have heard it countless terms throughout my life via him only. It was often a topic of conversation when talking about my future- My mother and paternal grandmother did the same thing – they each found the man of their dreams while at Texas A&M, got their “MRS degree,” and moved away, leaving school and their sophomore year behind (Yes- same age and timeline, too. The coincidences are a little freaky, to say the least).

Back to the point – My dad always told me that I would never do what my mother and grandmother did and get taken away from school because of a boy. Under no circumstances! My mom also helped this along by telling me to finish my degree all at once, because if I leave, who knows when I’ll be back? She was originally class of ’91 at A&M but finished as class of ’98 at Mary-Hardin Baylor, after moving with my dad in the Army many times and having babies (my brother and I), of course. That was her big selling point! To this day, I don’t know how she finished her degree in Math, of all areas, as a military wife during a deployment with two toddlers in tow, not to mention all of our activities like T-ball, soccer, and dance. But she did. Military spouses have to be superwoman sometimes (many times) – it’s in our job description (yes, like a real job – we wear a lot of hats). And keeping busy never hurts, too!

So, actually getting my MRS degree? What’s that? Does anyone see something in that title… a title in itself, perhaps? I left school without a degree but with a new title and name – as a Mrs. Thus, my dad has always called it an “MRS degree.” He even spelled it out (M-R-S) while telling me to never follow in my mother’s footsteps by running off with a boy before finishing school. It usually took me a while to realize he was actually saying “Mrs.” He was pretty adamant about that not happening to me, even though he did so with my mom and took her out of school (See the irony?) He even had me promise all while growing up that I would never get my MRS degree, and being the daddy’s girl that I am I would ecstatically say “I promise I will never get married and always be your little girl, daddy!” Not an exaggeration, y’all- this is what my childhood was like! With him being gone quite a bit with deployments, drill, etc. while I was growing up, I was attached at the hip. Which is why it was so hard to tell my parents that I had gained a boyfriend my second week as a freshman at college and he just so happened to be a senior and was also just coincidentally in the same Corps of Cadets outfit my father was during his time at Texas A&M, Trident P-2, and was also on a military contract. WOAH. Those senior boots get ya every time. You can see where I’m headed with this.

Naturally, after Marshall proposed to me in Corpus Christi (March 2011), I was ecstatic. Then it set in. I would become a Mrs. I knew what was happening soon – he would graduate, commission, and leave for training in Virginia soon after. What kind of a timeline does that look like for us? Would I stay behind at school until I finish, or leave and go with him- then when would I finish my degree, if ever? I surely didn’t want to take 8 YEARS to finish it like my mother did. I always knew I would never take that long! But wait, I have to tell my parents I’m engaged! Of course they have to know. My dad would be so upset! He made me promise I wouldn’t get married and run away before I get my degree. I am his only little girl, after all. He surely isn’t going to give me away just like that! What am I going to do?! You can imagine how nervous I was making that phone call to my parents (I called them in Whataburger- have to get some honey butter chicken biscuits for breakfast, y’all! We went there to celebrate after we got engaged that morning at the beach).

All that to say, that this is all worth it. That internal battle I know I was going through when the engagement sunk in that morning was only shadow of what was to come – the uncertainty, the excitement, our future. At this point in time Marshall and I have been married for over 2 and a half years. We are both still young in our marriage and have a lot of learning to do, but it’s so wonderful to be able to learn and grow together. We love where we are now in our relationship and work, and we both know that this growth wouldn’t be possible without what brought us here – getting married young, moving together; Putting my husband’s career before mine. Now, I have his support while finishing school, and he has my support while leading his platoon. Yes, I have an “MRS degree.” I use it every day in marriage (do you ever use your degree?) And yes, I’m also getting my actual bachelor’s degree in education in May, and I will use parts of that every day in working at a preschool, as I do now. But the fact of the matter is, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I take pride in my “MRS degree” because it is who I am – a Mrs. and a wife!

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