It's pretty quiet around SpouseBUZZ ... goes with the time of the year. It gives me a moment to look back and realize how astute and insightful the 10 lady-SB-authors are and the messages each leaves for us to mull-over. As well, I realize just how many of their posts I missed, not to mention the notes we get from your comments. So I found myself cruising to see what I missed or what may jump out that I should have learned but didn't. At times, many of you do the same and end up leaving us thoughts on posts from months back. I came across one of these comments from a post by another of our great authors, LMT. The comments got me to thinking (I know, a rarity).
Okay, my two cents (and that's the prorated black market price) on a comment by a reader whose wife is already on active duty and he is about to join and they have children. His thoughts made me think, how DID we deal with the various situations, both good and bad, and how did we each persevere? And so, this post is a brief discourse with the focus on this gentleman's comments about dealing with a mil-to-mil marriage. The caveat: remember for most of my career, my wife and I were a Mil to Mil marriage, and for all of my life, I've seen things through the eyes of the guy ("Toad, well duh!") as the active duty husband, and now, the supporting spouse.
The real short-version of my thoughts on the question of "dealing with" the mil-to-mil marriage ...
Rock bottom to it all is your belief in your wife and her belief in you, at all levels in all situations. Arguments will happen as you well know, but when it comes down to the real gut-check, you have to know and believe in each other. With your wife a member of the active component, whether her hitch in the military is for 4 years or 20, after it's all over we all revert back to a couple of basic things, that being friends and families. And with your plan to join the military as well, the two of you need to go eyeball-to-eyeball and make it clear that each of you understand that you won't always agree with what the military may be asking of either of you or how you two individually believe you should be doing your jobs. And that's okay. I didn't always agree with my wife( shhh, don't mention this okay?), or her with me, but we always came home together and put aside the days' differences. We had to, and in any relationship but especially in a mil-to-mil relationship, this is a fact of life you must understand.
Our end of day routine for dealing w/ us both on active duty? We made the time to sit and prop our feet up, no TV, no interruptions -- just a few moments, ... 5 minutes ... of getting to know each other again (possibly all over again depending upon the days' drama). We still do it to this day, 29 years after we first raised our hands ... Kind of figure that's what our love for each other is all about.
Kids -- okay this one is multifaceted and can be complex (see caveat above). #1: you both have equal responsibility and that means each of you will give up something to ensure the kids are seen to, cared for, and loved. Again, it's the give and take. Her military job can't be more important than your military job, ... they're both important or we wouldn't have asked you to do them. #2: Kids are tough and they'll have to be, especially when both of you might be deploying simultaneously. Not an impossible task but one that you must plan for. Teach them through your examples, "we can do this, together." Your Service will help you -- you aren't the first and there are numerous "how to's" that you can read. One of the biggest decisions will be to decide which family member, parent, sibling, will care for the kids. And if this isn't possible or preferred, then you will have to decide which non-family member will be entrusted to care for your children if you are both gone for either a short period as in a local exercise or if you find yourselves both deployed.
You guys have already built a relationship and a family. Your wife first felt the desire to serve her country and you have followed. It doesn't matter whether the decision to join was based upon the financial stability, the educational opportunities, or simply the desire to serve. And the kids are young enough that they will be flexible through it all as long as each of you maintain the rock bottom rule above. You and your wife must demonstrate to them that you have an unwavering belief in each other. This is important in any role you choose, but in the military, our lives could depend upon it. We believe that the person next to us, in front of us, and behind us, will always be there to support us. It gets weird when you realize that that Soldier/ Airman/ Marine/ Sailor in the convoy with you, is also your spouse.
Parting thoughts? Believe in each other and provide the essentials for rearing resilient kids; make friends wherever you are and wherever you go, they'll stand by you and are priceless; and, get to know as much as you can about the many, many resources each Service provides it members, especially military-to-military marriages.
To those of you entering the mil-to-mil marriage "focus group," good luck to you both you. You each have our greatest appreciation for stepping forward to serve. And to that small minority of men married to Military Women (7-9% of spouses), ... what are your thoughts? Build the How-To; give me your thoughts on the unique obstacles you've faced (knowing 91-93% are common to both genders) and what worked for you. Over&Out, MaintenanceToadOne