This is the second part of a three-part series that will examine military marriages. In part one, we discussed the must-ask list of questions to be answered before you walk down the aisle. In Part II, Love is Not Enough, you will get a glimpse into what everyday life might bring you as a military spouse. In Part III, tips and strategies for making and keeping strong military marriages will be offered. You did it. For better or for worse, you can now call yourself a military spouse. Welcome to a strange new world where, sadly, love will never be enough. To make it in this gig, you will need to have more. You need the patience of a saint, what could be deemed a questionable sense of humor and the sheer will to stick with it despite the odds against you and your newly betrothed. To be sure, your journey will be distinctly your own. Everyone is different. There are some things, however, that all military spouses get to experience regardless. Identity Crisis 101 Make room in your wallet for your new identification card (ID card, for short). It is your ticket to everything military. Without it, you won’t be allowed on the post or base. You won’t be able to get a doctor’s appointment or your teeth cleaned. Shopping at installation exchange or commissary will be impossible. Just ask anyone who has lost one or left it at home by mistake. Your ID card is proof to the military world that you are entitled to every benefit due your newly acquired status as a family member, a thankful semantic upgrade from being a mere dependent of yesteryear. Safeguard it and keep it with you at all times, lest you want the pain and bureaucracy of having it replaced through your spouse’s Pass & ID section. Your Last Four? Call it the key that opens the doors or just the magic numbers. You will need to memorize your spouse’s social security number, particularly the last four digits because you will be asked for it over and over again. Don’t make the mistake of assuming anyone is interested in your last four, even if that’s what they ask for in the first place. You may be initially offended that your identity doesn’t seem to matter here. Rest assured, it does matter…just not to the person who has what you want and the key to getting it is to know your spouse’s last four. (Do you sense the vicious cycle of life here?) You’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Or Are You? You might find yourself in California. Or Hawaii. Or Germany. Or Japan. Or Georgia. Or Texas. Or Minnesota. Or Florida. You get the picture. Home becomes where Uncle Sam sends you and not necessarily where you went to high school. Moving is a way of life in the military. You might dread every permanent change of station (PCS) move, but eventually, you get the hang of it. You may even find yourself looking forward to it one day. You will no doubt be an expert at it, regardless. Say What? You know he likes his eggs over easy, but the first time you hear him say something like, Honey, can you go by NEX and pick up my BDUs? I need to go by the PSD, renew my CAC and enroll you in DEERS so we can start to get our BAH ASAP, you are convinced an alien has taken over his body. No, it’s not Greek. It just milspeak and you’ll be hearing a lot of it. To learn the lingo, visit your military family center and enroll in any one of the “welcome to the military” type courses usually offered. Goodbyes You won’t like them one little bit, but you’ll get to experience them. They are the goodbyes that you will say to the one you love the most. He may be going to a school, a conference or a war. He may be gone for one week, one year or for what seems forever. You might not know if you will ever see him again. It sucks; it is, however, reality and you will have to face it time and again. As a military spouse, it may seem like you are forever living on the edge, never really being in control of your own life. You won’t always come first. Normalcy is the exception rather than the rule in this camouflaged universe. Somewhere in that cosmos is the person you said “I do” with and that makes the uncertainty and occasional insanity worthwhile.
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