I remember the first time my husband called me after returning from Iraq. I was a military girlfriend and living long-distance at the time. Hence the phone call.
So…We were chatting away, and I was feeling all sorts of happy butterflies because he was finally home. And we were—finally—going to see each other and spend time together! Woo!
Then he dropped the bomb.
He said, “I can’t wait to go to Afghanistan. I’m looking to volunteer for the next rotation.”
In a single instant my butterflies disappeared and a gaping hole burned into my heart. Seriously. For real. He just got home. I was speechless.
What military spouses won’t tell you.
Finding the good in the bad is key to thriving in military life, and this is something strong military spouses do insanely well. But…
While most military spouses confide in close friends and family members, they typically hold it together and put a smile on their face for the rest of the world. There are several things they won’t tell you about deployment.
1. They worry even when “they’re fine.”
Even the safest deployments carry risk. No matter where a service member is in the world, there is always a pit deep down in the stomach of the military spouse.
They carry a deep secret fear that one day there will be a knock at the door. When she looks at you and says, “I’m fine,” know better.
2. They would love an invite to coffee or lunch.
Military life gets a little lonely sometimes. Whether the invite comes from a civilian or a military spouse, it doesn’t matter.
Most days, distraction is a welcome change. And coffee is an added bonus.
3. They struggle to ask for help.
More than likely, they won’t go out of their way to ask for help. It doesn’t mean they don’t want or appreciate help.
It just means spouses are stubborn and independent and want to stay strong for their service member. Keep trying. Eventually they will accept help. And help always helps.
4. They don’t appreciate dumb questions.
If you ask dumb questions, they will respond graciously even though they kinda want to punch you in the face. Examples of dumb questions are as follows…
“Are you scared he is going to die?”
“How do you do it?”
“You’re used to it by now, right?”
Those types of questions. Yes, skip those.
5. They do appreciate encouragement.
If you see a military spouse, and you don’t know what to say, and you’re afraid all your questions will come out entirely wrong, a simple phrase of encouragement will make her entire day.
“I admire what you are doing as a military spouse.”
Or you can just give her a hug.
6. They don’t equate deployment to all separations.
They don’t want to hear about how much you miss your spouse who’s away for a week on a fishing trip. Common sense people. Combat zones and fishing trips are not the same thing.
7. Their phone means everything.
A fellow military spouse once said service members live inside the phones of military spouses, and this is so true.
To military spouses, phones are more than a place to mindlessly scroll Facebook or send emojis to your third cousin in Cali.
When military spouses are separated from the person they care about most in the whole world, they want to be there when the service member calls. Missing a phone call can ruin their whole day.
8. It doesn’t get easier. Ever.
It’s a complete and total misconception that being apart gets easier over time. It doesn’t. Do military spouses learn to use tools and resources to get through it? Absolutely.
But there isn’t a day that goes by that a military spouse doesn’t wish her service member was home.
9. Being faithful is the easy part.
Trust me. Military life and keeping a strong military marriage is complicated enough without bringing another person into the mix.
Of course, there are a few bad military spouse apples, but they do not make the whole tree rotten. Military spouses love, adore and respect their service members, even when they are away.
10. The uncertainty is the hardest part.
You never know when they are going to call, leave or come home. There is some ballpark of an idea, but dates typically change. Everything is ambivalent, not just deployment.
Where you’ll live, your career, your friendships—all of it is a big fat question mark. The only thing certain is that the plan you start with will always change and change and change.
Afghanistan happened. Twice.
At a loss for words, I hung up the phone trying to make sense of our conversation. It took me a while to adjust to the idea of another deployment. Okay…a good long while. I can’t say that I ever got comfy cozy with the idea, but I did reach a place of acceptance.
Since then, I’ve learned to brace myself for the surprises of military life. And he’s learned there are just certain things best left unsaid to a spouse immediately after deployment (like that you’re leaving again on another deployment).
Want more posts on military life?
- How Strong Military Spouses Rock Deployment
- The One Thing You Miss Most During Deployment
- What a 2-Year-Old Will Teach You About Surviving Deployment
- 15 Must-Do Things to Prepare for Deployment
Do some couples are argue a lot before a deployment? Experiencing that and Im concerned.
Carrie, we did and still do even with him currently Deployed 2nd time. Stress and tension are high for both of you. Sometimes, I think, that is the only way the pressure can be released. Just agree on ‘fair play’ rules before you get into it.
Tracey L Wilson
Second Deployment here and SPOT ON!
I had to giggle though…I would think it’s safe to say there is a heck of a story behind just HOW he ‘learned’ that one! rofl. (Etiquette of bringing up upcoming Deployment news to wife).
Is there any organization to give support to spouses of the deployed? My husband is not military but is a commercial fisherman in Alaska and a retired fireman and while his job is hard, it is nothing like what the men and women in the military do. I would love to be able to extend a helping hand. What the men and women who stay home, parent kids, keep the grass green are doing to keep their sanity is amazing!
I am a huge fan of Lauren Tamm, and her blog is an inspiration for my blog that is dedicated to Partners of Commercial Fishermen (www.meganwaldrep.com)! I am a proud Army Brat, and I find many similarities in military and commercial fishing. Though I COMPLETELY understand that the jobs are different, and some fishermen are only gone for a short time, there are still partners that deal with 8+ months of separation with no contact while their partner is in the middle of the ocean doing a dangerous job. God bless all of our partners and the work they do. Alison, I would love to connect you with our community! And Lauren, thank you for all you do for Military families! I will continue to be a huge fan over here!
That’s not a reason to say his a scam cause he asked for use help
Hello, I met this guy online telling me that he is a US Marine Deployed now in El Gorah in Egypt, we’ve been talking for few weeks already and he said he fell in love with me. I was asking him to video call me but he said it was restricted for security purposes, and today he told me he don’t have an access to get his money there, so I got confused and I thought maybe he is just a scammer, he is sending me photos of a guy in Marine uniform and he is claiming it was him but I got a feeling that he is just stealing the identity of the guy in the photo. I was so worried and I am concerned about the guy in the photo too. He told me his name but I couldn’t find him in google or social media like facebook and instagram. I need help
Don’t send this guy money!!
If he is in fact a deployed Marine, sailor, airman or soldier, he will have basic needs provided (food, shelter, etc.)
Also, he has a network to “unscrew” whatever money issues exist.
Finally, I question his giving you his location over the internet as this constitutes an operational security breech, but is a handy excuse to avoid face-to-face contact either via Zoom, etc. or traditional contacts.
In any case, this smells really wrong to me. Best of luck.
I was a military wife for 22 years we lived in Germany twice and Colorado twice, ft Sill ok my husband did a year in Korea and also was a drill Sgt. One thing I learned was that a mi.itary wife can make or break their husband’s career. Being strong and taking care of things while they are deployed let my husband to do his duty without distraction. We are retired now and I have to share that your sacrifice will be worth it. We have medical and a retirement check.
Also think a military wife serves right along with her spouse and my oldest child helped to raise his sisters. And when we started out we only made 500 a month. I always had to work. And I remember all the food stamps in the drawer at the commissary. I send all my love to the military family. I believe we serve too and are not really recognized .
Hi, I met a man on social media, who said is in the military. We’ve been talking for a few months and tells me he loves me and wants us to be married. Then one day said he received his deployment letter. Now he’s asking me to contact his lawyer so we can have a marriage certificate in the files, as I told him “how, we are not married” the military knows this, I told him I will not do anything illegal. Help is this a legitimate thing ?