Most of our military do not have “normal jobs” or hours. Even when not overseas, the training required of some of our military personnel is inherently dangerous. Daily, service members are put in situations that most of us would never want to face. Flying a helicopter over the ocean. Detonating bombs. Driving a larger than life tank. Shooting guns down range with 50 other people alongside.
When my husband was policing the military installation where we were stationed, daily he put on a bulletproof vest and wore a pistol on his hip. He was equipped with a taser, mace, handcuffs, and baton. Thankfully, in his year on the job he was not forced to use any of these things except in training.
Before I even agreed to date my now husband, I needed time to think through so many things. What if it turns out I like this guy? Could I really marry a military man? I will be moved away from my family. What about my dreams and goals? What if he deploys? What if he’s killed in battle, I don’t want to be a young widow or single mom.
Our job is not easy. We are separated from our families, living in places we’ve never been before, maybe places where we don’t speak the native language. Every few years we are uprooted and forced to start again.
My hope and prayer for this post is that for those of you who are not a military spouse, you will have more understanding and insight into the daily struggles for those who are married to the military.
Yes, you read that correctly, married to the military. Many people wiser than I told me before I was married that I was marrying the Marine Corps first, then my husband. Boy, were they were right.
For those of us who are military spouses, I hope this article can bring us closer to our fellow military spouses. Knowing that someone out there has the same fear, anxiety, or struggle as you might be of comfort.
33 Military Spouse Truths
I gave birth to our first child and was a single parent for the first 2 months of her life while my husband was deployed.
We find out my husband’s work schedule the night before. He could go in early enough to be home for dinner or go in after lunch and work through the night. And this is normal.
Just because my husband isn’t “deployed” does not necessarily mean he’s “home”. Military members have month(s) long training in other states.
I can’t always answer, “Will Daddy be home to kiss me good night?”
We have celebrated far fewer holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries than what we’ve been together for.
Connecting with one spiritually is difficult. My husband, the spiritual leader of our family, is gone so much it’s hard to know how to pray for him and vice versa.
Adjusting from being a team unit in parenting, to single parenting when they are deployed (or gone for certain amounts of time), then back to being a team unit makes it difficult to intentionally parent.
The fear of whether or not my husband will come home from work crosses my mind.
Running all the “what ifs” through my head when I hear something on the news or see an article.
Fear that my husband will not always be around to see our young children grow and learn.
My son, who misses his Daddy due to long work hours, is acting defiantly. When I ask him if he’s angry that Daddy is gone, he answers, “Yes.” Unfortunately, these long hours are required for his coming deployment.
Making plans is hard when I don’t know his schedule for the next day, let alone the weekend, the month, the holidays, the next year.
My baby girl will soon realize that Daddy doesn’t have a “normal job”. I pray for patience.
I struggle with the thought of how I would take care of my family should my husband not return home from work. God is so great and gives me peace with this.
Being a military spouse would be so much harder without the help of my Lord Jesus Christ. With all the uncertainties, separation, and fears God has brought me through things I couldn’t have gotten through on my own.
My daughter adores her Daddy. It’s hard for her when Daddy can’t be home for dinner.
I’m an introvert so this lifestyle of packing up and moving to a place where I don’t know anyone has been difficult.
Forming deep, meaningful relationships is difficult because we know that we’ll only be here for a short time.
Spouses who have loved ones deployed have a lot of support, which is fabulous, but those whose loved ones are not deployed, but gone for months at a time do not get the same kind of support.
My career network is on the other side of the country. Those who attended school with me are beginning their careers in a field they’ve worked toward. I want that.
It’s easy to find other military spouses, we wear the title proudly, but to find Christian military spouses who can pray over and support me can be difficult.
Being able to set aside all the to-do’s and worries of moving to connect myself through employment, volunteering, etc is difficult.
My plans for continuing my education or career have to be put on hold or completely let go of because we move so often.
With the government cutbacks and shutdown, the fear of us not getting a paycheck (or getting paid late) is very real.
Those I am closest to who are not military, my mom, sister, cousin, best friend, do not understand the feelings and emotions I am having. I feel like I can’t always talk to them.
As an attorney, I have to get licensed for each new state we live in. I currently hold 2 licenses, neither of which is the state we currently reside or will likely ever live in while he’s active duty.
The stress of his job bleeds into our marriage. He tries to leave work at work, but it’s hard.
Between the stress of work, long hours, and nurturing our new baby, most days we don’t have time to work on “us”.
Even though my husband hasn’t deployed overseas, he has spent a lot of time away from us. Our newborn son is changing so quickly, and the hardest part is seeing the disappointment on my husband’s face knowing that he is missing out on precious moments.
I miss my family. I miss not spending the holidays with them, but I also miss the “lesser” occasions, baby showers, birthday parties, bridal showers, the birth of a cousin or nephew.
We would love to go see family several times a year, especially for the bigger occasions, summer break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, but plane tickets are expensive.
Prioritizing our visits when we are “back home” is tough. Our families don’t even live in the same state, so we need to be mindful of who we spent Christmas with last year and spend it with the other family this time.
Friends who have been in my life since I was young are hitting milestones that I want to be a part of. Friends are getting married, which means bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and of course the wedding. Other friends are having babies. I wish I could be there to celebrate each person somehow, but we cannot afford to go to everything.
But we wouldn’t have it any other way….
Most of the women who helped me with the project included something like that in their response: I love this life, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I couldn’t imagine not being in the military. You see, even though this life is hard, part of being a military spouse is being strong and independent, staying positive for our husbands when things aren’t looking so good. Looking on the bright side of things, seeing the good in people. Being able to laugh at oneself, opening our hearts to strangers.
The very nature of this life requires these things from us. We don’t like to “complain” or ask for sympathy, we hate handouts. We need to appear to be strong for our kids, like we’ve got everything together even when we don’t. So when I asked my friends to help with this project, some were literally unable to come up struggles or challenges they face. Instead, they chose to give me responses full of hope, gratitude, and love. Some of their responses follow.
When my husband deployed, I was able to make God my God, not my husband. Since then, my marriage has gone places I never thought possible.
Every time he leaves and comes back, we get to relive the “honeymoon” phase!
I get to live in so many different places, places that if my husband were not in the military, I probably wouldn’t even visit.
My family has expanded to include so many sisters, spouses of Marines. They are part of my family now, and I couldn’t imagine going through life without them. We will be friends forever.
We all feel this way. We know that God has placed us on this path, and we have embraced it. There are certain things that as military spouses we get to experience that other spouses/families don’t, and we are so grateful for that.
Thank you to all the women who helped me with this project. Your honesty is humbling, and I appreciate all that you do for your family and friends. Each of you holds a special place in my heart, and I continually pray over our families and service members. To all the military spouses and families that may come across this article, you are stronger than you know, thank you and God bless.