Tuesday, May 4, 2010

10 Tough Things About Being A Military Spouse

I'm participating in the Wives of Faith Blog Carnival this week.  Wives of Faith is a great website that connects military spouses from all over, providing encouragement and support.  Check them out at www.wivesoffaith.org.

Today's topic is 10 tough things about being a military spouse.  Generally, I try to focus on the positive but it's refreshing to just sit down and be honest once in awhile, because sometimes the situations we are faced with just suck.  We always get through them though because we choose to trust God to give us the strength to handle whatever comes our way.

10.  Doing it alone - Right now my husband is deployed and I'm pregnant.  Dealing with morning sickness is rough.  Dealing with morning sickness without my husband around is just way more difficult than I ever imagined possible. Of course, then there is also the matter of a yard that needs to taken care of to meet inspection standards, a house that still hasn't learned to clean itself, a dog that would enjoy being taken on walks that are longer than the walk down the stairs to the back door, the groceries that can't seem to deliver themselves to the refrigerator...  oh and seriously, when is trash day anyway!?  The list goes on.  I'm more appreciative of the help my husband gives me when he is home, every single day he is away!  I also smile a little smile almost every single day when I walk into our "office" and see the drawing I made of our sprinkler layout system as dictated by my husband one day.  I can't wait for him to get home to see whether or not I was anywhere close to picturing what he was trying to explain!

 9.  Missing the moments - My husband wasn't at the doctor with me when I found out I was pregnant.  He wasn't there to see/hear the baby at the first ultrasound.  He won't be able to be with me at the gender ultrasound.  He wasn't home for his birthday and I have yet to see him as a 27yr old.  He will miss both of our wedding anniversaries, my birthday, 4th of July (his favorite) and so many more special days.  We both hate missing the moments that make up such special memories.  We do try to make up for them when he is home.  Before he left, we went to the Melting Pot (we got engaged at the one in San Antonio, Tx) and celebrated all our special days that would be missed.  I can't wait to do it again when he gets home.  It's one special tradition I hope to keep - such good food, great company and a special memory!

8.  Being away from family - I hate that because of the distance between where we are stationed and where our families live it is so very hard for us to get away to visit them.  It becomes not only a financial burden, but also a time issue.  My family is very close and it's been a real struggle to not have them close by.  I think my mom and I have grown closer because of the distance and it definitely makes us appreciate the times we do get to spend with our families that much more.  The visits are few, but the time is cherished!

7.  The Unknowns - We can't really plan too far in the future.  It's hard to plan vacations because we don't know for sure if he will be able to get leave or if something will come up.  We don't know when deployment is going to end for certain so we can't make plans for after deployment.  We don't know if we are going to PCS before or after the baby comes, and if that will be the temporary PCS or if we will end up in a place where we will stay for a couple years.  We don't know when the next deployment is going to come, so we have to be careful to keep our plans flexible.  There are so many unknowns... sometimes its a blessing in disguise, for a control freak like me!  I just have to learn to let go and let God.

6.  OPSEC -  This one is not hard for me, because I don't mind keeping thing private.  It's hard for me to have to deal with explaining it to family members and friends who don't understand that I really, truly cannot tell you the exact date he is leaving or coming home.  I really can't give out specific information about where he is going or what he is doing.  There are things that even he, himself, cannot tell ME and I'm his wife.  I hate the carelessness of others who just blatantly disregard the fact that OPSEC keeps ALL of our men and women and their families safe.  You really don't need to share every last detail with everyone in the world.  You don't know who is out there that may be intercepting that information.  Its sad, but it's reality.  Period.  We deal with OPSEC in our own special way.  So that he does not break OPSEC we have a special date around the end of when we think this deployment will be that only the two of us are aware of, and we are counting down to that date, and referencing how many days before or after his arrival will be.  It works for us!

5.  Stereotypes - I could go on about this for quite awhile because it is currently affecting my life in a huge way.  I'll keep it simple though - just because my husband is gone does NOT mean that I am going to go looking for someone else to occupy my time until he returns home.  I choose to be faithful.  Just because a few military spouses choose differently does not mean that it's ok to assume that all of us are going to do the same thing.  This one is very hard for me to deal with right now, but I am trying to live with integrity and above reproach.  If I live my life while my husband is gone so that no one can ever question my actions, devotion or loyalty to him then I am helping to break those stereotypes.

4.  You can't understand until you go through it - There are just some things in life that you can't understand unless you have been there or are going through it yourself.  It sucks to be at a completely different place in life than so many of my friends.  So many of them just don't get it right now and it hurts.  I don't want to be excluded because they think I need to be left alone because I have so much going on with deployment.  On the contrary, I want to be included more than ever now because all the time in the world is MINE, without factoring in my husband's schedule and the fact that if I miss dinner with him tonight there won't be dinner with him again for xx months.  Sometimes it's just a difficult place to be in.

3.  Finding a new church family - We just have not connected like we have hoped at this duty station.  We tried again during the time we were temporarily in another place and it was almost like the impossible task.  We might have enjoyed the service, but if not one single person welcomed us or asked our names it made the experience feel a little sour.  You want to feel at home at a church, not like an outsider or an intruder.  We're praying very hard that we find somewhere to connect.  Ideally, I would love to plug into a church home now while my husband is deployed, and have him feel right at home and connected in the church when he gets home.  So far, I've been too sick to attend church but we'll see.  There's still a few months ahead of us, and I'm entering the 2nd trimester... there's hope!

2.  Communication - It sucks when you can't reach your husband whenever you want.   Recently, he's been so exhausted and I've been so sick that our phone calls don't even last 5 minutes.  We just cover the basics - I'm alive. I'm safe.  Baby's ok. I love you. I love you too.  I miss you.  I miss you more.  Then comes the 3 I Love You's and a click... he's gone.  It never fails that I remember something I wish I had said while he was on the phone after we get off the phone.  We thought for sure we'd be able to chat via the internet and things like skype, but during this deployment he doesn't have internet access.  The reality is that I probably will not get to see his face until we are being reunited in an airport.   I'll take what I can get, please don't get me wrong - but I wish communication was easier.  

1.  See you later's - We don't say goodbye. ever.  I can't even say it on the phone during a phone call with him.  We say see you later, or during phone calls the last thing we say is our 3 I love yous in a row.  We have too many moments where we are faced with saying "see you later".  Whether is for a TDY assignment or deployment.  We've actually been fortunate in that our only BIG "see you later" was for this first deployment  but that night was the hardest of my life.  I stayed at the airport gate, crying as I watched his plane pull out of site.  I went outside to wait for my shuttle back to the hotel and watched with silent tears rolling down my face as his plane took to the night sky.  It hurts my heart to know that sometimes "see you later" really does turn into goodbye for way too many families.  That is definitely the number one hardest part of being a military spouse.


Jessica said...

you are so right...it's so hard when you just want to pick up the phone and call your hubby.

thanks for sharing your list!

Pattie said...

I mentioned OPSEC in my list too. It angers me when people want so much info and are so careless! Grr! DH and I had a "code" phrase for when he was actually leaving the sandbox and I didn't let people know where he was till he was stateside.

Becky said...

Your see you laters...that's so hard. My husband hates goodbyes because the longer they drag on the more emotional we both tend to get. This has made for some very quick, very detached goodbyes. When they left last year, he hugged me, kissed me, told me he loved me and that he'd call as soon as he could and turned, walked away, and never looked back. When I dropped him off at the airport when leave was ending, pretty much the same thing. Every time tho, as soon as I get in the car, that's when I break down.

Chrysanthemama said...

What a great list. A lot of these spoke to me, especially finding a new church home, missing family, and the unknowns. Stay strong, friend and congrats on your pregnancy! I can't wait to check out more of your blog.

Kathryn said...

Great list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your heart.

Ebony S said...

Finding a new church family is at the top of my (unwritten) list too. When we get to a new place, it's the first thing I look for, and sometimes don't find one for quite a while. I see why you have it listed here :)

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