When all is said and done, being a military wife can either make you or break you. My husband and I are about to celebrate 25 years of marriage this coming June and during that time, the military has always been by our side, for better or worse. In some ways, military life has helped make our marriage stronger – it has certainly tested our bonds. But having a partner willing to listen to complaints as readily as he is willing to celebrate the joys has helped our marriage thrive.
You know you’re a military wife when…
… you walk under an archway of sabers in your wedding gown and on the arm of your handsome, uniformed husband and his comrades in arms serenade you at the reception with Take My Breathe Away from Top Gun (yes, I am not ashamed to admit that I am a bride of 1990).
…your husband’s first assignment takes you to a place you never imagined you would live, the tundra of Alaska.
…someone asks your husband’s rank and or position before they ask you what you do yourself.
…your parents come to visit and your husband suddenly gets orders to deploy. After the third visit and accompanying last minute deployment, your mother begins to wonder if he is really deploying at all.
…last minute deployment demands that you sew name tapes on the new uniforms (and you find out after he leaves that you sewed the name tape where US Air Force should go and visa versa).
…you decide to not take a 9-5 job so that you can spend more time with your shift working husband and take advantage of his unconventional “weekends” and travel around Europe (not taking into account how it might hurt your future job prospects).
…the librarian tells you she can’t give you a library card because you don’t have your sponsor standing by your side.
…your husband calls while on TDY to say that the assignment to Elmendorf, Alaska just been cancelled and instead of moving to your dream location in 30 days, your family is moving to Las Vegas, Nevada instead. Tear up game plan. Start over for new location.
…state to state move means you get to take vacation en route and the entire family has the camping trip of a lifetime.
…a salesperson at the Natural Science Museum in Denver, Colorado tells you that you and your kids don’t have to pay to enter and to please enjoy the visit.
…a salesperson at the San Antonio Botanical Garden tells you that a military discount isn’t available unless your active duty sponsor visits with you. Your husband happens to be deployed to Afghanistan at the time.
…you live on a base so removed from everything that wild turkeys visit your backyard.
… orders arrive and you get to experience Europe for a second time in his career and break out the champagne.
…your friend tells you that she is getting a divorce because she just can’t take military life anymore.
…the travel agent arranging your official travel tells you that she can’t get government rate tickets to the airport closest to your husband’s new assignment so you will have to travel to a different airport and transfer yourself, your children, and all your luggage from the airport to the train station and finish the final leg all while managing a foreign language.
…the movers packing you out tell you that they are short a crate but one is on its way. Your most expensive household goods, including the brand new television your husband just bought, are sitting on the driveway and all but one packer leaves. The remaining packer settles down under a blanket to go to sleep. It’s 10pm and your flight leaves at 6am and you have two children that need to get to bed. Your husband? He’s already in the new location learning his new job.
…the flight attendant tells you that you shouldn’t travel with more belongings than you can manage on your own (stroller, carseat, carry-on diaper bag, backpack in place of purse). She could care less that you are on official orders and not going on vacation.
…base command tells you that you cannot live off-base in a house with a yard because there are perfectly acceptable apartments available on base. No matter that it’s a two bedroom apartment of less than a 1000 square feet and you are raising two rambunctious boys. You then feel sorry for anyone that has to live below you.
…your friend tells you that her retired military husband is leaving her for another woman and she regrets giving up great jobs at several locations because now she needs the work experience to be able to support herself.
…when your mother asks if there is any chance that your husband will get assigned to Monterey, California and you tell her there is no way in hell. And thirty days later you are calling her back to tell her that your family will be moving to Monterey at the end of the year.
…the military invites you to attend a training in order to better understand your husband’s new position. And you learn all the things that you are prevented from doing and all the things that they would love you to do but won’t require because they can’t hold you (completely) accountable nor pay you a salary.
… you find yourself living in South America not once, but twice. The US doesn’t even have bases in South America.
…a fellow military spouse cancels at the last minute and you find yourself dressing in “Texan” costume to explain American culture to more than 500 foreign military spouses all by yourself (and at last minute, your husband says he can join you so that you don’t have to do it alone).
…you make friends with military spouses from several countries around the world and wonder how all of us can be so much alike when we come from such very different places. And you wonder if this is the end of a career or just the beginning to the next step of the journey.
Please share your own unique military spouse moments in the comments below.
Angie is the founder of Not Your Average American where she currently writes about living and traveling in South America. As the daughter of an Air Force NCO and the wife of an Air Force Officer, she has broad experience with military life. She is outspoken about issues that affect the military community and posts opinion pieces at DailyKos and helps run the KeepYourPromise Facebook page with more than 100,000 followers fighting to keep military pay and benefits intact.