Cath Hopgood, 41, Gunnedah, NSW
When I was little, I didn't think that much about the man I was going to marry. Some girls dreamt of their husbands being a lawyer or a doctor, but that didn't matter to me. I just wanted a best friend who liked the same things I did. So I never imagined a career would play such a huge part in who my soul mate was as a person.
I met David, 41, back in 2001 through friends. We started chatting and hit it off right away. Just like me, he loved watching the footy and going fishing, so we eventually became great mates. But there was something different about David. He'd been in the army for many years and I soon discovered serving his country was in his blood. He loved every minute of it. Hearing stories of times he'd served in Rwanda and East Timor, I knew he was an amazing guy. But as we got closer, I taught him a thing or two as well. David had grown up on ration packs of vacuum-sealed meat and cheese in a can, so as a chef, it was my duty to open his eyes to a whole new world of food. When I made him try his first oyster, it was no wonder his eyes lit up!
David's job also meant he was away a lot. Most people thought that it would affect our friendship, but it just made us value our time together more. We discovered distance really does make the heart grow fonder, so after a year, our friendship turned to romance. That's when my life changed forever. As we moved around the world, I started from scratch, redecorating a new home and finding a new job.
Eventually I got used to it, but I never got used to worrying about David while he was away. I wandered around the house imagining him in dangerous and horrible scenarios. Some days, if I couldn't distract myself, I'd be glued to the news, expecting to hear a bulletin on a mission gone wrong.Thankfully, the worst that has happened to David is a broken leg during a training exercise, but I still wince thinking of how bad it could be.
David insists there's more to the army than just risking your life. There's also an amazing sense of mateship. He met his best mate, Scott, 39, during his time in the army. They worked together as teenagers and have remained like brothers ever since. Although military life took them to different places, David insists there's always a room in our home so Scott can visit.
When we got married in 2003, Scott was supposed to be David's best man but, sadly, he was deployed before our big day. That's the way army life was - full of sacrifice. If that's what I had to do to be with David, then I was happy to do it. Over the next nine years, David and I moved eight more times. It didn't matter where we were, David and Scott always kept in contact. When they got together, they'd usually have a yarn over a big, juicy steak. But somewhere along the line, the meals they'd share became more important. Together, they developed a passion for food and considering they'd grown up on ration packs, they were actually pretty good at cooking!
David had a talent for putting his own twist on dishes. One day I taught him how to make chicken schnitzel, then he put a spice called dukkah in the crust. It was delicious and I was thrilled my basic recipe was the secret weapon behind his culinary masterpiece! After that, the boys kicked off a little competition among themselves. They'd work their magic in the kitchen and send each other text messages to see who outdid the other in the recipe stakes.
At the time, Scott was trying to impress the love of his life, Kae, 33. She was from Thailand so he wooed her with curries and laksas. He must have done a great job because in 2010, Kae and Scott got married! Last year we were watching a cooking show when David suggested he was just as good as the chefs. Amused by his confidence, I challenged him to prove it by applying for My Kitchen Rules. He did, entering Scott to go in the competition with him. We were all stunned when the boys got in! They were used to leaving for weeks to face a challenge, but this time the battlefield was the kitchen!
Today, I'm enjoying watching David and Scott on the show. In 22 years, they've never said a bad word to each other. It's great to see that mateship shine through. Some day, David and I would love to open a little B&B and cook delicious meals for our guests. Until then, I'm happy to watch the boys compete in the kitchen. Whether they're in a scorching battlezone or slaving over a hot stove, I know they're brave enough to fight on.