When I was in the military I was part of the military spouse community. I enjoyed spending time with my friends who were military spouses, but I didn’t quite understand what they were going. Then I left the military and my military spouse perspective shifted.
The military spouse community is a pretty unique group. They often have to leave behind what is familiar to them and move to a new place with their spouse. They may or may not have a family. And their spouse often has to work long hours, with a high likelihood of either a deployment or a business trip (the military calls them TDYs). This leaves the military spouse behind taking care of the household on their own.
Why is it difficult to be a military spouse?
From the outside looking in, I really didn’t understand why it was so difficult. I guess it is hard to understand until you are in the trenches. Now that I am a military spouse and have left my military career behind, I now realize how hard it is to be a military spouse.
I have technically been a military spouse from the first day I joined the military. My husband commissioned a year before me and we got married a few months before I commissioned. We had already been separated while I was going to school and he was active duty. And we were finally reunited after I commissioned and completed training before finally living in the same place. My husband’s job had him leaving town and working nights pretty regularly. It took some time to get used to being back together, but I was busy working and had gotten connected with both the military spouse group and had a group of military friends.
Life was an adventure.
It had its ups and downs, but no one could complain. Everything seemed to be going well as we made plans to attend the Air Force Institute of Technology for our next assignment. Unfortunately, I didn’t get accepted into the program and instead was sent on a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. My husband ended up getting accepted to the program. He moved to the next assignment while I was deployed. He even had to house hunt and buy a home without me. The realtor mentioned she had house hunted with a lot of military wives alone, but never a military husband. This should have clued me in that military life doesn’t always make it easy for military spouses.
All things seemed to work together. Eventually, we got stationed together again after being apart for 15 months.
Do you wonder why I left the military when we added kids to the mix?
Then we decided to start our family and we made the hard, but the easy choice for me to leave the military while my husband continued to serve. Leaving the military was an easy choice on paper. But I didn’t realize the difficulty I would have with losing my purpose of serving. I thought if I succeed at being the perfect mom I would be able to fill that longing and emptiness that came out of nowhere.
Motherhood didn’t go quite like I expected.
Then to make life more difficult my husband was sent off to two months of training when my son was two months old. I knew that he would be leaving before my son arrived, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to be on my own with a little baby.
Once my husband left I realized how alone I was. I had made some friends while living in Ohio, but many of my connections were military members who still had full-time jobs and often didn’t have kids. It was really hard. And it was not what I had imagined my life would be like.
Eventually, my husband came home and we found a rhythm that worked for us. Then just like that, it was time to move again. I was excited that we were moving closer to my family. But I didn’t realize how much work moving would be with a little one-year-old. We arrived and my husband headed off to work. He left me with lots of boxes of stuff and no one to talk to except my one-year-old. I quickly learned how lonely moving to a new place could be.
Military spouse perspective shift
Military spouses have to make countless sacrifices. And although you have little say when you are in the military on where you will go and what you will do, as a military spouse you have even less of a voice. You go where your spouse’s career takes you. You are along for the ride and who knows what sacrifices it will be bring. But you do it. And continue to make these sacrifices.
Do you know how important military spouses are to the military? I now do and I hope you do too.