My husband is a Marine pilot. I’ve been at this military wife game for a while now and I still hear people tell me how strong I am, “how do you do it,” and “I could never do that”. The simple answer is, you learn to be happy and live your life with your husband constantly coming and going from it. You begin to accept your role and make a choice to not be miserable. This takes a lot of time to grasp, it was hard at the beginning. You question whether this is the life for you, if this is the man for you. It might even be that you lock yourself up crying for months when they leave for deployment, this is what happens when your life together as a military couple begins.
During my husbands first deployment I was a newly wed. I was left packing up our first apartment, I cried as I packed away his uniforms and all the things that made our place home. I cried for weeks and put on a front of strength for my family and half way through it I began to accept and prepare for his return. I put on a smile during all of it for my husband, after all I wanted him to not worry and know that I could handle this. We were able to Skype frequently and that helped a lot.
Second deployment, I cried for days instead of weeks. My husband took a ground job with a Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. People started getting killed. I spent every day checking the news stories for any casualties that might have come up. Fear and not sadness marked this deployment. I was dreading an unwelcome knock at the door. I still remember reading the e-mails regretting to inform us that there had been a casualty within our community feeling pain for the women who got that painful visit and feeling relief that it wasn’t me with an unexpected pang of guilt. My husband was safe for another day. This time I found a distraction and went to get a teaching credential. I wasn’t going to let this consume me, I was done with that. That was no way to live. I had to become my own person, I had my own interests, I began to live my life. That’s what “seasoned” military wives do.
Now we’ve moved our growing family to Okinawa and my husbands schedule has been extremely rigorous. For a while I was lucky to see him two weeks out of the month and some months not at all due to training and flights. He wasn’t home the last month of my pregnancy and made it just before the baby came. I was grateful that he was here to watch his son being born. Not every spouse in that hospital was that lucky. It’s a financial burden to come out to Japan and many family members can’t afford it. Some where giving birth alone. I knew I would have friends there to fill in for him just in case and I felt grateful for them.
My son is growing, developing, learning and while my husband misses a lot of milestones it’s gotten easier. I’m as not devastated as I was before and I know I’ve become stronger and more resilient because I have to be for my family. While I’ve gotten accustomed to my husband being in and out of my life, now I have a new challenge of a toddler that is starting to notice when his dad leaves. I will meet that challenge, just like so many other military wives do.
I remember the way things were before and maybe I’ve finally become comfortable in my new role, I know what to expect and I accept this. In the beginning I didn’t understand those women that did so well with deployments, I thought they were bad people and didn’t love their husbands but now being a “seasoned” military spouse I get it. And now I kind of like sleeping on a queen sized bed by myself. The house is cleaner when he’s gone and on some nights when someone else’s husband is gone I get to have a drink with a friend and gossip. 🙂 Of course I love my husband and wish he were around more but we’ve come a long way from where our relationship started. We’re a team. And for any new/young military wives out there, I just want to give you a huge hug and let you know that you’ll get stronger, things will get better and you’ll be a pro in no time. All of those confident ladies have been though what you are going through, don’t let them fool you. 😉
“Distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It’s for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It’s for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don’t see it nearly enough…” -Anonymous