When I first met my husband he was 25 years old and had been out of the Army for about 4 years. It was in his past, something he did for a couple of years after high school. We dated, got engaged and got married. No plans to join the Army again. Fast forward to 2005 and here we were in the recruiter’s office in Lexington, KY getting all the paperwork together. We had been married a little over 3 years and it was a joint decision. He left for Germany on Nov 7th, 2005 and that was when we became a military family. The longer we are in, the fuzzier and more distant those pre-Army marriage years are.
You might have met your husband when he was already active duty, or maybe you got married right before he left for basic training. But I also know there are many of us that made the decision to join the military together after having years as a non-military couple.
I wanted to blog about the differences. Now I know that just like each couple might have a slightly different experience in the military, each couple probably had a difference experience before they joined the military.
As a non-military couple, my husband worked a regular job. He was paid hourly. He got extra pay on holidays and if he was sick he just called in. If we wanted to take a vacation in say September, he just put in for it and usually got that time off.
Now, he works all kinds of hours. Sometimes he is home at 4, other times not until 7 and that is when he is home, not deployed, in the field or doing CQ. No extra pay for having to go in on a holiday or weekend. If he is sick he has to go to sick call. Vacation revolves around block leave and when the Army says they he can take it.
Before the Army, my husband was always home. After work and on weekends were our time. We could plan whatever we wanted. He didn’t need to get a special pass to travel. We could make plans 6 months in advance and know when he had to work and when he didn’t. Now? Forget that. If we plan something for 6 months from now it probably isn’t going to happen in the end. I have no idea if he will even be home for Christmas this year.
Before the Army we decided we would do the every other year thing with Christmas and Thanksgiving. One year we do Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his and the next we would switch. Well that went right out the window with Army life, deployments and living so far from California. Now we just plan each year as we go. I would love to spend Thanksgiving with my family again, but it’s been years and might be years before it will happen again. Such is Army life.
Before the Army we would talk everyday. Since being in the Army we sometimes have to go days and even weeks without talking. I think we did a full month once and a few 3 week periods where we didn’t talk at all. The norm during the deployments seemed to be talking every 4-5 days. But sometimes we did have to last longer.
One thing we did not have before my husband re-joined the Army was homecoming and R&Rs.; These moments have been SO good for our marriage. They make me feel like we were dating or newlywed’s again. A military ball can be such a fun date too.
Military marriages have to go through a lot of stresses but it doesn’t have to break you. And in the end it can make your marriage even stronger. But man things sure are different than they use to be.
Did you are your husband have any time together pre-military? Or was he already in when you met him?