The Unsung Lives of Military Spouses (and inevitably, families)

[Originally posted on June 16, 2010 on Blogger]

When someone decides to marry a service member in the military (or even a member of the police, bomb-squad, fire department, or any other life-endangering field) assumes a life filled with a quiet undertone of sacrifice.  To live a happily married life, you cannot be selfish.

I am learning this first hand.

I would not say that I am a “selfish” person – I am an only child, and sometimes I do like to be the center of attention of one’s adoration (my husband’s) – but I am also very giving, nurturing, and self-sacrificing, which preludes my life.  But it can be a difficult transition at times, when your life and your families lives, revolve around your husband (or wife), and little attention goes to what YOU do, what you have to endure, and the sacrifices you make, as well as your spouse’s.

This is by no means meant to be a “oh, poor me, someone pay attention to me” blog, but about the quiet struggles and sacrifices of a military spouse.

Most of what we endure is often unforeseen to those close to us, unless they have or are going through the same thing.  But most of the time, people see, admire, and pay homage to the sacrifices and struggles of our serving spouses.

What about us?

We are the one’s our spouse comes home to, and experience most closely the struggles, fears, and frustrations they have.  Those of us who care enough about our husband, or wife, can begin to experience these same feelings vicariously: whether we want to or not.

We make the sacrifice of marriage, which in itself isn’t a sacrifice, but we know that by marrying someone in the military, their job puts their life at risk, especially during deployments.

The government takes our spouse away from us, for months to over a year at a time, not to mention for weeks for trainings.

While our spouses are serving, we pretty much throw away any hope at being able to live a “normal” life with any set schedule, because we know the military can change your plans daily.

To help alleviate some of the stress put on my husband, after being unable to find temporary work in my field, I have opted to remain a housewife, so that I can make sure our apartment remains cleaned, groceries and other necessities are always at hand, dinners are prepared every night, we remain on the same schedule, and I wake up with him every morning to prepare his coffee and pack his lunch every day before he heads to work.  I am not complaining about the things I do, I enjoy them fully (though not necessarily waking up between 5 and 5:30 every morning), because I know I am helping my husband, and he appreciates it.  I know if I had to work, if finances became a struggle, we would be able to still accomplish everything, but this way, I know he doesn’t have to stress as much as he would have to.

I do the things I do because I love my husband.  I don’t presume to be a better wife than any other military spouse, I presume any spouse who cares about their husband or wife would do whatever they can, whatever their spouse needs, to make their life easier during their time of service especially.  This is just what I do, I’m a homemaker and happy living a Stepford life; it’s not for everyone, but it makes me happy.

But it is still a sacrifice.  I sacrifice a second paycheck.  I sacrifice a life that could be a little more planned, with someone I don’t have to worry about leaving me for a year to put his life in danger.  I sacrifice my sanity, and I am sure the stress I go through will add years to my life someday.  I could not care, I could sit at home and ignore the present facts of my life, but that would not make me a good wife.  I could live my life with no consideration for taking care of or helping my husband, but that would make him unhappy, and in turn would either make me unhappy as well, or a complete bitch.

So, I sit in my silent struggle, listening to friends and family woe about the frustrations and stress my husband endures, listen to strangers thank my husband for serving, with little consideration for his wife, standing silently by his side, enduring the same sacrifices and struggles he makes; not everyone is a good candidate for a military spouse, and not many people realize or consider those of us who are or make the effort to be.

So, from one military spouse to all others who sacrifice areas of their lives for their loved one, Thank You.  While we honor our Service Members, we should honor each other as well.  For if, while your spouse is deployed, and two members knock on your door with the tragic news none of us want to hear, not even our/their parents will quite understand the feelings we will go through.

If your husband or wife is deployed, or is scheduled to deploy, I sincerely hope that he or she returns home safely.  And Thank You.

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