“I don’t know how you do it. I could never do that.”
It can be difficult to explain what being a military spouse means and I’m sure it means different things to different people because there are so many kinds of jobs and situations. It’s a different type of worry every day. Sometimes it’s the slow steady worry. Sometimes it’s the instant worry and burst of adrenaline when you hear something has happened or is going to happen. Maybe it’s a constant level of crazy-manic worry, especially for some of those jobs that are really secretive. Maybe it’s all of those things combined all the time. (I’m not saying there aren’t jobs or situations out there other than military that are similar in worry. I know there are. But because I can’t speak from experience for those, this one is about being a military spouse.)
I think the simplest way I can explain being a military spouse is this:
So if you hear someone is in a relationship with someone else in the military, respect what they must go through, all because they care about someone.)
Marriage & the Military
A marriage should be about trust and honesty.
A marriage should be about Respect and Support.
The support stretches to us as the waiting spouses as well. Our spouses need to understand what we go through while they are doing their jobs, the stress we endure moving from place to place, and the responsibility of caring for things that they are unable to.
In addition every person who is in a healthy, loving, non-threatening relationship deserves to have the support of their friends and family for that relationship. Especially during those high-stress moments of deployment when the cable/electric/bank/school/insurance/miscellaneous company refuses to talk to you because they don’t acknowledge your Power of Attorney or understand your husband is NOT here right now. Those are the times we need someone to talk to about it. Even if you don’t entirely understand, we just need someone who is willing to respect us and listen to us when our spouse isn’t always able to do so.
A marriage should be about Communication.
What I am allowed is an email or two a week with no attachments or pictures, and even that is limited because I know it will be read by at least one if not several other people before his eyes see it. Obviously I can’t put anything in those emails that I wouldn’t want someone else reading, and I am also unable to mention anything that would negatively affect him emotionally, i.e. financial problems, deaths in the family, accidents, etc.. An email with a mention of any of those things can and probably will be flagged. If something happened to me or one of his family members, there’s a good chance my husband would not be allowed to know about it until he pulls into the next port, for fear of endangering his mental ability to do his job.
Because of these reasons, a few months before deployment I’m actually cycling through all the emotions of actually being in the midst of deployment as I write out letters and prepare packages and love notes in advance for my husband to take along with him on his journey, to be opened up a little bit at a time to provide him with support along the way. The fun part? I can’t tell other people because I am not allowed to talk about the dates or times of an impending deployment to pretty much anyone other than one of the wives from the boat, and that can only be discussed in person. No emails, texting, phone calls, Skyping, or Tweeting/Facebooking to complain that my husband will soon be leaving me to go on deployment.
During this time it’s the most important to communicate with my husband and for him to communicate to me. It can become really easy to cut off yourself emotionally. I know this sounds weird, but it’s unfortunately a great defense for emotional preparation. Putting up an emotional wall with him so it won’t hurt as much while he is deployed can happen really easily, but it’s then that it becomes most important to love harder and talk to each other more about how each other feels.
A marriage should be about Friendship.
That is what Nick is to me. He is Ying to my Yang. He balances me in a way that I will never fully understand, and in that way he is truly my other half. Because he is my other half, if I stop to think about it too much it feels like half of me is missing all the time, every day while he is gone.
It’s blasphemy to sleep on the other side of the bed. I tried it once, just out of a crazy concern that my mattress would become unbalanced. I spent that night restless. It was terrible. It felt wrong, and I kept waking up the whole night confused. Now I remain on my side - because the other side is and always will be Nick’s.
I still purposely put my makeup on his side of the sink picturing him giving me faux dirty looks and making little frustrated sighs as he moves it all back to my side. (I can’t help it- it spreads on its own.) His shaving brush and after shave remain untouched, albeit a bit dusty on his side of the sink as well.
I won’t touch his favorite coffee or especially his coffee mug.
And I won’t even get started talking about the little project I began for him while he is gone, in case he’s reading. A few of my friends know about it, and I’ll announce it when he returns. For now, it’s fun keeping it a secret. But it’s a way of keeping him in my thoughts, even when he isn’t actually here. ;)
Nick is my best friend, my go-to person I am so happy to share my life with.
A marriage should be about LOVE.
A marriage is not easy. Love isn’t easy. No relationship is. You have to work at it. You have to surround yourself with pictures and reminders of your love and to do your best to surround your spouse with happy thoughts. It’s important, vital for him to know that I am in love with him, and that an ocean apart and several hundred or thousand miles will not alter that love.
That’s what it really comes down to. Loving, honoring, and respecting that individual with all your heart every day. Isn’t that what marriage vows mean anyway?