Things Aren't Always as They Seem


A SpouseBUZZ reader sent this to me and asked that I post it without attribution. I think it's a good lesson in why assumptions are often wrong, and unfair. I have some related thoughts about military life and assumptions, but I'll save them for another day.

I don't live with my military husband. I fly in and see him, sometimes attend a unit event, and leave again. I appear shy at events, I don't attend FRG meetings, and I don't volunteer for anything. My life on post is a set of constant introductions and questions.

Why on earth would I do what I do?

Do you have someone like this in your unit? Have you heard these excuses?

"I'm at a great job, and just couldn't give it up for this move."

"My mom needed my help caring for _______ (sister, niece, grandparent, etc.)."

"Not quite ready to move yet, but we'll see what happens..."

"Maybe after the baby's born, I'll get down here."

And inevitably, the finger-shaking begins. Privately, my husband and I laugh about it. The alternative is crying and tears are a waste of precious energy.

We try to guess which one will be the front runner for the next rotation:

"Is your wife trying to make you get out of the military?"

"Your wife is being selfish. She doesn't understand the struggles of this life and how hard it is for you to be here without her."

"You were already in for 5 years when you got married. Your wife went into this with her eyes open. Why won't she just move like everyone else?"

And neither of us can explain or try to justify it, because the truth is our terrible secret. Well, TRICARE knows, but that's it.

Imagine for a minute if your child was always sick, on a course of antibiotics every 2-3 weeks just to be able to stay ahead. Imagine if it went on for years. Constant doctor's appointments, missed work, missed vacations. You compartmentalize illness prevention into a strategic plan. You track them on the calendar and try to find a pattern. You avoid preschool and church. You constantly worry when it will happen next. Is he going to get sick before the vacation or is he going to need antibiotics while we're gone? Can we get through the next month without him ending up in the hospital? What if the next one's resistant? And finally, there's a diagnosis of a serious but not life-threatening condition. You sigh in relief. There's a treatment plan available. And then days, weeks, or months later, you realize that this isn't over. You're now required to register for the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). And the long awaited diagnosis means that if your family leaves the military, you're uninsurable, and if you stay, it will affect your spouse's career. And you have a husband who loves his job almost as much as he loves you. Would you want your child's treatable condition to define your husband's service?

I can't tell other people what they should decide when faced with these choices. For us, the decision to stay out of EFMP by living apart was the only option available. It was a joint decision made after a great deal of soul searching and prayers for serenity. And that is why I choose to live somewhere else and visit the unit occasionally. So is the new person that lives with her parents or decided to stay in Kansas for a job just being selfish or is it more than it appears at first glance? You decide.

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