I am sure you have heard it before, when you are telling a friend that your spouse has to deploy for six months. They look at you and say, “I could never do it.” And you just want to roll your eyes a bit because even though you understand what they are saying, you also sometimes feel like you couldn’t do it either. And that you only “do it” because you love your spouse and they happen to serve their country by serving in the military.
You know that they are probably not trying to be mean by saying this, but sometimes that phrase is hard to hear. As military spouses, we do what we have to do, even if we don’t like what is happening. Most military spouses wouldn’t say they love deployments but we work hard to find ways to cope through them.
So what is the best thing to say to people when they tell you this? How should you handle this topic?
Here are 9 ideas for what you can say to people who tell you they could never do military spouse life:
1.”I couldn’t either.”
The truth is, I used to say this. When we first started talking about my husband joining the Army, I said this. I didn’t think I could handle solo parenting or being away from him. But then things changed, and I was able to because I knew I had to just get through it. I knew that I had to support him, no matter how long he had to be away or how hard things got.
2. “Well, if your spouse were in the military, you would find a way.”
This is the thing; if you are married to a service member, you figure out how to do things you didn’t think you could. I would even say this is true for most people. Whether you are married to a service member or not, your life could bring you challenges and you figure out how to get through them, even if it is just one day at a time.
3. “Well, not all of us have to thankfully.”
Although this might come off a little bit snarky, luckily, not everyone has to be without their spouse. Not everyone has to deal with all the lonely nights. We live in a country where not everyone has to be away, fighting in a war.
4. “Well, you just take it one day at a time.”
Really, that’s what we have to do. One day at a time. One hour at a time on some days. We just get through. We stay busy. We make friends. We figure out how to survive a deployment. One day down during a deployment is one day closer to them being home.
5. “With enough wine, chocolate, and Netflix you would be able to get through it too.”
Maybe instead of wine it is coffee, and maybe instead of chocolate it is ice cream, but we find ways to get through the time apart. Whether it is diving into a good book series or a new Netflix show. As military spouses, we have all sorts of tools in our deployment toolkit to get through a deployment.
6. “It’s hard, not going to lie.”
Sometimes we should just be honest with people. Military life is hard. We can’t sugarcoat that. We have days where all we can do is feed the kids and do a load of laundry. Survival mode is a thing and sometimes that is the only way through. But just because something is hard, it doesn’t mean we will automatically walk away, especially when it concerns our spouse.
7. “I would rather be married to my soldier than anyone else, so I deal with it.”
This is what it comes down to. We do this because we want to be married to the person who has decided to join the military. We would rather do this with them than have another life with someone else. And in most cases, the person you are talking to would do the same thing. They have just never had to think about living without their spouse before.
8. “Hard things seem impossible until you have been faced with them yourself.”
I have friends that have been through the death of a child, death of a spouse, a divorce, or any other difficult situation. Life means these things might happen and they get through them just like anyone who has been faced with something that seems impossible. You never really know how strong you are until you stare the impossible in the face.
9. “Want to bring me dinner sometime?”
Why not ask that person for help? I know, it’s hard for us military spouses to ask for help but maybe when someone says, “I could never do it” to us, we could ask them for help. If they can recognize that a deployment is going to be a hardship for us, they are also probably willing to help you out, even in small ways.
While hearing, “I could never do it” can get frustrating, especially when so many people say it to us, we should remember that people don’t usually mean anything bad by it. They simply have not been in our shoes, and the thought of having to do what we do is scary. This is so human.
We can talk with our friends about what military life is really like; we can let them know that we do struggle but that we do it for a reason. We can tell them that we got this, as hard as it seems to them. We can explain that we don’t do this because we love being alone or love deployments, but we do it because we married a service member and want to support them in their career choice.