Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What It's Really like being a Military wife

After 5.5 years of being a military wife I am no longer the young, naive newlywed trying to figure out marriage and surviving a deployment at the same time. I'm now a seasoned veteran so to speak and have weathered 4 deployments and lenghty amount of time spent apart due to training and what not. And while I may now be a little more seasoned when it comes to spending time away from my husband. It never gets easier. But I have learned a few things these past 5 years.

-Military life is not as romantic as I originally thought or that most people seem to think. When your toddler is walking around the house searching for their daddy, and your baby has been up screaming all night and you know that come 4pm no one is walking in your front door to provide you with relief, you learn really quick that this lifestyle is not romantic whatsoever

-Waiting become second nature to you. I feel like I am always waiting for something. Whether it's for my husband to leave, come home, or receive orders for his next assignment, life as a military wife is one big waiting game. And when you do figure something out it changes 25 million times before it happens. It is pure torture preparing for your husband to leave, to have said your tearful goodbyes and to drop him off at the airport only to find out that the plane was delayed until the following day and the tearful goodbyes you just said will be repeated again. Or to finally have a date set in which your husband is supposed to arrive home only to get word the flight is cancelled. For 2 weeks. Yup welcome to the military where you wait, wait and wait some more

-Holidays become just another day. This year for Valentines day a friend texted me asking if I was lonely without the hubby being home. My reply was no. I think she was shocked. In truth I didn't mean anything negative by my response. I just meant this. Any day spent apart, whether it's a holiday, birthday or anniversary is just another day without your spouse to a military wife. And any day apart sucks. Sure, I'm sad we miss out on a lot of celebrations together. But if I dwelled on the fact that my husband and I haven't spent Valentines day(or our birthday's which are also in February)together in 3 years I'd become one big emotional mess and I have to keep it together for the kids sake. So no, I try not to think about all the things he is missing. Instead I try to make a big deal out of the celebrations and special occasions that the husband is home for. In fact he is so used to me cramming all our weekends full of activities and things to do to make up for all our time spent apart that he usually has to ask to spend a weekend relaxing at home. I'm learning that we can spend quality family time without having to fill every second with an activity

- Sustaining a marriage within the military lifestyle is hard to do. The husband and I only dated for 5 months before getting married and a month later he deployed. Since then he's been coming and going constantly. We added up all our time apart and figured out that in our 5.5 years of marriage we've spent about 2.5 years together. That's more time apart than together. Obviously that's not how a marriage should be. We are so used to being alone that when he returns home it is stressful. When he's gone I become a single parent, a housekeeper, chauffeur, cook, maintenance worker, protector, money manager, etc etc. And when he comes home it is hard and frustrating to relinquish those roles back to him and have him fit back into our routine. Just as it is hard for him to walk around  a home that he feels like a stranger in. So it's a constant adjustment. One that we are continuously working on. And as usual just as we are about to figure it all out, he leaves again. So the cycle continues

-Friends/Family don't understand-And to be fair, unless you live this lifestyle how can you possibly understand what it's like. It can be frustrating, when family members act like we are selfish when we want to take a family vacation instead of go home to visit them. Hey, the effort can be made both ways. It's a constant battle, one where someone is always left hurt or feeling slighted. We are still in the process of working all that out

-I feel tired/Angry for the very first time-I think this is the first time that when the husband told me he was leaving I literally shut down. He told me while we were out for date night. Bad timing, buddy! And I pouted, complained and picked fights the whole way home. Not my finest moment, that's for sure. But for the very first time I was mad at him. Mad at him for leaving, mad at him for making us live this lifestyle. Mad at hime for all the upcoming event's he would miss. Ethan's 1st Birthday being the most important. I felt robbed. Both for myself and for our family. And we still have 10 more years of this lifestyle to go. Some days it seems impossible to get through. But now I'm getting melodramatic

And while I felt all those things and simmered in my anger for a few days I thought about something else. And that is all the good this lifestyle has taught me.

-I have moved thousands of miles away from my family and closest friends and I have made the best of this situation. I have raised two kids basically on my own. Two kids 15 months apart mind you and I've done it since Ethan was born.

While my husband is off serving a country he so loves, I am holding down the fort at home. And he knows this. He knows that I have it all(for the most part) under control and while he does worry about us, he doesn't have to stress about us.

-Our marriage has never been stronger. Sure we have to adjust to living together again, and it is easy for us to be selfish in our wants and needs since this lifestyle makes it easy for us to do so, but once you survive a deployment you can weather anything

-My husband and I are each others biggest supporters. While this lifestyle makes it very hard for me to work outside the home, my husband wants nothing more for me than to stay home and raise our children. I will forever be grateful to him and his career for making this a possibility

-I have learned that I am stronger than I realized, independent when I need to be and one who can be steady yet flexible at the same time. I have learned alot about myself since moving away from home 4.5 years ago and I still surprise myself with things I am figuring out and discovering

So while at times this lifestyle can be hard, very hard I am also very grateful for it. For the man who makes living this lifestyle worthwhile, the steady income and healthcare that we are afforded due to his job and all the unique opportunities and life experiences this life brings. Here's to another separation, one that we will rock like any other and one that will be added to my book


  1. LOVED LOVE LOVED this post!!! I've been thinking of doing something similar later on!

  2. I have HUGE respect for military wives. While I have no true comprehension of what it must be like I know it's a ton of patience, strength & determination. Behind every married soldier is a incredibly brave wife. No easy task, I'm sure. Good post...thanks for the insight. : )

  3. I'm right there with you Katie. I've been a Navy wife for almost 12 years. We got married at 19 not knowing what to expect and I can relate to everything you just posted. Also been through 4 deployments, each lasting about 10 months, in addition to the many weeks out at a time underways they do throughout the year. So I understand how we become single parents, watching our babies go through fear and anger and sadness without their daddy. And I quietly go through it too. A sort of numbness takes over after a while and nothing surprised you anymore. Just remember, we as military wives, grown an outer hard shell. We are very, very strong without realizing it. It is an extreme lifestyle that comes with hardships and so much sacrifice, just remind yourself of the big picture. It is a respectable job with good security and decent pay and great benefits. It means we have more appreciation for family time and take the time to make those moments we do have matter. We don't take them for granted and we notice those things more. It forces your marriage to excel in teamwork and trust or it will crumble. You're doing a great job. We all have those days in hermit-ville where everything sucks, but tomorrow's a new day. Give yourself a pat on the back and you're doing the best you can :)

  4. I don't have the strength to be a military spouse! I find it hard being a firefighter's wife, sometimes, and the most he's away from me is usually 48 hours. But I can relate to the missed holidays, birthdays, etc., when they fall on a shift day, but on the other hand, it's easy for us to make alternate arrangements, where you guys don't have that option. I would have reacted the same way, though, if he had dropped a bombshell like that on a date. I'm sure no matter how many times it happens, it never gets any easier! I have the utmost respect for you, girlie!