“You knew what you were getting into”
If you have been a military spouse for any length of time, you have heard someone say this. This phrase comes from civilians, military spouses, and military service members. I don’t like it.
My response to this is, no, we didn’t know what we were getting into.
You see, us military spouses, we know there will be time apart, we don’t know how lonely that can be.
How quiet the house can get when you are the only one in it. How you will crave the little daily chats, you used to have with your spouse, and how sad you can get when you think about those moments.
We know we will have to move often, but we don’t know how hard it will be to leave someone that is like a sister to us.
The person we spent last Christmas with. The neighbor who helped us when our son was in the hospital. The friend that we could talk to about anything. The person that became closer to us than anyone else ever had.
We know there will be deployments, but we don’t know how they might break us.
How we might get so overwhelmed with them that we can’t imagine going through another one, even though we know that with our spouse’s job, that will be our reality.
We know there might be children, but we can’t know what their struggles might be or what having one parent gone all the time will be like.
We can’t predict what raising a child on the autism spectrum will be like when your other half is gone for a year at a time. We can’t know how drained we will feel as a SAHM, even though that is what we always wanted to do.
We know that we might have to sacrifice our careers for theirs, but we don’t know how hard that can be or how long we have to wait on our own career goals.
We can’t know if we will be in a state where we can work using our degree or if we will have to settle for something else because that is all there is. And then have to deal with the emotional toll of all of that.
We know this life will be a hard one but what that looks like, how we will be able to get through the difficult days, and what the years our spouse will serve will look like is a surprise.
Life is filled with surprises. This is true for everyone, military or not. What you thought your life might be like will look different than what happens.
No one knows what they are getting into. No one can predict that. No one can be 100% ready for what this military life brings.
Even if we did know what we signed up for, that doesn’t mean we can’t vent a little on our more challenging days, cry into our pillows when we just can’t take anymore, or simply ask for help because everything is just too overwhelming at times.
Before you say, “You knew what you were getting into,” think about your own life and all the ways things turned out differently than you thought they would.
Be compassionate to the military spouse that is having a more difficult time. Understand that everyone handles deployments differently. Know that some of us ask for help because we are trying to better our situations, not because we want to fail.
Military spouses are strong but only because we have had to become that way. Through trials, challenges, and the surprises that military life brings.
What has been your biggest military life challenge?
Don’t forget to check out The Newbie’s Guide to Military Life: Surviving a PCS and More by Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life and Mrs Navy Mama. Your guide for learning about military life.