What Military Spouses Want Their Civilian Friends To Know
I saw them every day. I went to school with them. Military kids. I remember driving on base to pick up a friend my junior year of high school. I think the gate guards had to call her house to get their okay to let us in. This was pre-9/11 of course. I remember hearing about how my friend’s dad always had to be away. I didn’t understand what that would be like. My dad was always home.
I remember my co-worker, sending letters to her marine husband she had married over leave. How did she do that? How did she have a husband who lived half a world away? I remember her, “Half my heart is in Afghanistan” sticker on her car.
I was complaining to my mom about having to move yet again in my college years. She told me to think of all those military wives that had to pack up their children and keep moving every few years.
And then, in 2005…I became a part of this world. This military lifestyle that I had only seen glimpses of in my civilian years. A life that I didn’t even really know much about, even if I had seen a few Mel Gibson war movies. A life that has surprised me in many different ways.
Now I am on the other side. I have 11 years of Army life experiences and there are a few things I want my civilian friends to know. I want them to understand how things can be for us and what living as a military spouse is all about.
- We know we are not the only ones who miss our spouses- As much as we miss our spouses, as much as how that part of military life is hard for us, we are aware that other spouses go through separations too. We know about truck drivers and police officers and firefighters and surgeons and contractors. We know we are not the only ones missing the ones that we love. We might not be in a good place to hear about how badly someone is missing a spouse who is only gone for a week but even then, we can understand that when you are not used to being apart, it can be difficult. Talking about our military life struggles doesn’t mean we think we are the only ones going through this type of hardship.
- Some of us do remember are pre-military spouse years- Unless you became a military spouse the day you got married, you will have lived as a civilian before military life started. You remember what it is like. You can compare the before and after. People have said that military spouse life is the same as any other. I call BS on this. I remember what it was like before the Army. We are living a pretty post-Army life these days. There is a big difference between the two. It isn’t that one type of life is better than any other, but they are different and saying they are the same does a disservice to both types of lifestyles.
- Our marriages are not doomed-It’s way too easy to look at the hardships that military families go through and think that all of our marriages are doomed. This is not true. Sometimes the hardships make for stronger marriages. Sometimes life outside the military is a reason couples break up. Sometimes people change. Sometimes this is because of the military. Don’t assume your marriage will not make it because you are a military couple. But know that your marriage will be a lot of work and will need to be taken seriously.
- We get jealous-It’s true. I am not going to lie. I have been jealous of non-military families. Of not having to send anyone to war. Of not having friends move away all the time. I think this is natural. It’s what you do with your jealousy that matters.
- Army wives is not reality- So many people ask if Army Wives the tv show is just like our life. No. It’s a TV show. There are some truths to the show. There are some realities they got right but for the most part, especially after the first season, things do not seem like real life to me.
- We are a diverse bunch- There are so many diverse military families and so many types of people who make up the military world. Some are pretty conservative, some are pretty liberal. Some are from a small town, some are from a big city. Some have a lot of children, some have no children with no plans to add any in the future. The military world is a such a mix of different people. There is not just one way to be a military spouse.
- We will miss this life when it is over, even if we couldn’t wait to be civilians again- When it comes to getting out of the military, some of us are really excited about that. However, that doesn’t mean getting out is going to be easy. We will miss parts of military life. We will sometimes wish we never had to leave. The post ETSing process can be very emotional.
- We know you can’t fully understand and that is okay- We know that no matter how many times we explain about our lives, how many blog posts we write, you will never fully understand. And that is okay. We can’t expect you to, just like we can’t totally understand any of the struggles you are going through that we haven’t experienced. That is life. And that’s okay.
- We are thankful- When we know our civilian friends support us, we are thankful. We are thankful for any messages they give. We know they are looking at our lives from the outside but we are so thankful when we know people care and acknowledge what we are going through. Even if we do get frustrated by certain comments, we know deep down they come from a place of thankfulness and we really appreciate that.
What would you add to this list? What do you want your civilian friends to know about military life?