Three Facts of Being a Military Wife
My husband retired from the Navy after twenty years of service, and along the way he met me. I fell in love with the man, and didn’t realize how much he was already married to his job. When he was active duty there were three people in our marriage, myself, my husband, and the US Navy. I wish someone had told me the following information about being a military wife before I got married to help prepare me.
1) Learn to Accept that you Can’t Control Everything
One of the first, and hardest, lessons I had as a military wife was that the military didn’t give a shit about any issues military families have unless you bitch about it. They may talk a good talk, throw you a picnic, etc etc but when it comes down to it your spouse is a member of the military first, and your spouse second. The military doesn’t care if you’re pregnant, you’re in the middle of a cross country move, or that they’ve changed your husband’s orders six times and you still don’t know where the hell he’s going in a months’ time. You, as the military spouse, will often find that all the careful plans you’ve made don’t mean shit. If the military says your spouse has to go, they have to go. You must either learn to accept the changes and adjust, or go insane.
2) You Are Not Alone
Now, I’m not saying every military wives group is awesome, or that every family center on base is staffed by people who give a shit, but for the most part your greatest form of support is going to come from other families in the military. These people know what you’re going through because they are going through it as well. While it’s hard to form bonds due to everyone constantly moving around, it is in your best interest to not only become involved with a military wives group for your sanity, but for the sake of your military spouse as well. A lot of the women in these groups have been there and done that, and they are more than willing to help you avoid the same pitfalls they had to suffer through. If you’re too shy to talk to people in person, join one of the thousands of online communities across the US. These are the women who are going to help you hold your shit together during a deployment.
3) Your Spouse Joined the Military, Not You
Often the decision to join the military was made before you end up meeting the love of your life, and if you come from a civilian family you might not be ready for the loss of self that comes with being a military wife. Having a quality job, meaning not minimum wage sweat shop, is difficult at best with the frequent moves that most military families go through. It’s almost impossible to work up any corporate ladder, or even become employed when you have the stigma of being a military wife. I know when I used to live in Norfolk VA my girlfriends were always so frustrated by how hard it was to get hired anywhere. They had the skills, the degree, and the willingness to work in the field they’d studied, but because employers looked at them and saw ‘military’ they’d often get passed over in favor of someone who might be with the company longer. You also are rarely in an area where you have your family and no one really knows you for who you are. Instead you become ‘Gunnery Sergeant Hill’s wife’. For a modern woman this loss of self is hard to process. What you need to remember is that after all the bullshit is done, you are still the same person you were and no one can take that from you.
I hope I’ve given some advice that someone, somewhere finds useful. I have several military romances out, but the one that I’m the most proud of is my take on PTSD and the amazing amount of courage and strength it takes to deal with it not only for the military member, but also for those that love them. Oh, and it’s wicked hot so it is not for those that like the lights off and the doors closed. ;)