Last week my husband and I attended an annual military family mandatory fun party. This party included a meal, live entertainment, and of course, a bouncy house for the kids.
Secretly, I was dreading it.
As a military spouse, I should be more enthusiastic about these “family fun nights,” but often times we get there, spend the entire time chasing after our two littles, and return home exhausted.
By the time we left the event, we accomplished 5 things:
- A back ache from bouncing a crying baby.
- Two bites of a meal, while standing up.
- Sweating from chasing around a toddler.
- Socializing with almost no one.
- Driving home exhausted.
I was telling a friend about this ridiculous fiasco of attempting to enjoy a mandatory fun party, and that’s when I told her the one thing I’d been holding back…
I’m terrible at being a military spouse.
I don’t volunteer as much as I should with the Family Readiness Group. I don’t bake cookies, organize social luncheons, or run the summer beach bash among the spouses.
I confess there are many times when I roll my eyes at a mandatory fun event on the schedule. I don’t organize mommy workouts or spouses’ coffees.
I can’t memorize military acronyms to save my life. I even forget the ranks of service members I meet.
When my service member tells me a “work story” I struggle to follow along. I’m not always understanding and patient when the military makes big decisions for our family (like moving overseas).
I struggle with resentment during deployment, and I struggle with adjusting when he returns home. I struggle with preparing the perfect homecoming and all of it overwhelms me and I end up doing nothing at all.
I am the spouse who misses her service member’s phone call from time to time because her phone was on silent. I am the spouse who forgets the print off the PCS checklist until a week before the move.
I am the spouse who can’t find the power of attorney in the moment it’s needed most.
I am the spouse who struggles to make military spouse friends with each duty station move. I am the spouse who doesn’t have her career figured out.
I am the spouse who never knows what to wear to a military ball.
I am the spouse oblivious to the military discounts and special programs available. I am the spouse who is terrible at being a military spouse.
I’m not an expert.
I am not seasoned or advanced.
I am simply a regular spouse, who enjoys Netflix, yoga pants and wine. I like hanging out with my friends—military spouse and civilian spouses alike.
I like to travel and try new things. I love seeing people smile each day. And I have a tendency to drink way too much coffee in the morning.
I like (okay…LOVE) Target. Facebook and Pinterest take up more of my day than I care to admit.
I appreciate a good cry from time to time. I even keep my mom on speed dial and I’m not ashamed to say it.
Most of my outfits are just some combination of jeans and a t-shirt. And I see going to the gym as an excellent excuse to wear my comfy gym clothes all day long.
I am independent, strong-willed and laid-back all in the same breath. I love and adore my service member more than anyone will ever know.
I am a regular, everyday spouse who just happened to become a military spouse.
I am not an expert.
I am not season or advanced.
I am simply a military spouse finding her way.
Want more on military life?
- The Real Reason Being a Military Wife is So Hard
- 3 Telltale Signs You’re Friends With an Awesome Military Spouse
- I Married “Old” in Military Life and I’m So Glad I Waited
- 10 Things Military Spouses Won’t Tell You About Deployment
I really need some advice.. my fiance (getting married 08/2021) wants to join the army and has this deep rooted need to fulfill it.. i understand this and want to support him but I love stability and being my own person, I fear being the patriotic wife of a military man and not able to do any of the things I want to do but I dont know how to talk to him about this and how much I dont like it.. were 26 and we plan on having our first child in a couple years and I will not accept being away from family before then because I have depression and anxiety when alone.. and I’m guessing those feelings will feel much more intense with a pregnancy. I really need help.. I don’t know how you do it.. just thinking about it I get so restless.
Just remember you have a say in this too. I hope your fiancé recognizes that.
This life is really, really hard. For example, my husband and I have been together for 10 years, navigated life in the Marine Corps for 6 and married for 5. We now have a 3 year old girl and an 18 month old boy. We love each other (and even like each other!) very, very much. We are currently in the middle of his third deployment. I was under the impression that it was our last one and my hopes were way up. Although he’s gone, I was overjoyed to see a light at the end of the tunnel. He’ll come home in July. All was well.
The whole reason I found this article is because I am seeking emotional support after finding out today that his contract was extended. We are essentially government property. So they can absolutely extend a contract without our consent, which is what they did. Not much of a “contract,” by definition, is it? One more deployment in 2023. I was on cloud 9 about him getting out and now I’m crushed.
It has been a variation of events just like this one for 7 years now. It’s the name of the game though. Sacrifice, hurry up then wait, make plans, change them and change them again. Lots of stress, tears, arguing and laughs. Boundless love overall if you’re meant for each other (which I imagine you must be.) If your fiancé is currently still on the fence, speak up. Make sure this is the right thing for BOTH of you. I don’t know what you believe— but either way, maybe pray about it.
While I have had many moments of sadness over his military career, obviously God had a plan and so much good came from each move. It’s just hard. It’s not necessarily a life any woman or spouse dreams of having. It’s 100% your servicemember’s dream. It’s their world and you and your children are just living in it. You’re finding nuggets of joy where you can get them. It is immensely tough on children. But by the same effect, military children are super tough. My own kids are too little to know much about what is going on. However, now that my daughter is 3 she is catching on quickly. She misses her daddy and she’s very confused. This is a hard thing to explain to toddlers.
I will say though, our husbands’ intermittent absence is kind of what keeps America a world power. Sacrifice. This word keeps coming up. We sacrifice for those we love. We suppress emotion (not always very well) and we suck it up because at the end of the day, we made a choice. We have a responsibility to these men. (As long as he treats you like a queen and it’s a healthy marriage of course). I—like you— do not do well alone. I do best surrounded by the whole family or at least my husband and kids. In this life you’re alone a lot. You have no choice but to make friends your stand-in family. It’s not always pleasant or your first choice. You’re constantly trying to make the best of a situation and trying to hold onto any optimism whatsoever to get through the day.
In my experience, the most successful wives I know have been extremely independent— not super emotionally dependent people. I’ve even wondered if deployments sort of help keep their marriage strong. That may be a bold claim but it makes sense. Everybody’s different and some couples thrive on breaks from one another.
I’ve never been one of those people.
To me, that ‘type’ of military spouse never seems overly bothered by their husbands’ absence. Meanwhile, I’m always over here struggling. Lol But our little family is healthy and life is good regardless. We have love.
I only want to be completely transparent with you so you can be fully prepared. Make an informed decision using these words, hopefully.
Pray for clarity and good will come no matter what you both choose. I’d love to help you more if I can. Let me know. Wishing you both the best! Congratulations!!
Well said and well written. You are not alone, there are so many of us out there it may surprise you.
It’s crazy how I’m almost exactly like you. I can completely relate to everything you said. I love my husband, but I hate being a military wife. I miss home so much, I hate being away from my family. If it weren’t for my husband, I’d totally go back to my old life. But I feel like it’s unfair/inconsiderate of me to just leave him, he’s sacrificed so much, too. But I’m so unhappy. I don’t know what to do anymore, maybe I’m just not used to it yet.