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Together or Apart

Back in the stone ages, before He of the Sea and I got married, we had to some pre-marital counseling with the pastor who was going to marry us.  He asked us some thought-provoking questions and some of the thoughts that came up have remained guiding principles in our marriage.

One thing he particularly liked was the idea of adjusting your marriage vows to reflect your marriage - not necessarily writing all new vows, but making whatever alterations might seem appropriate.  We used the traditional "for better or for worse" marriage vows, but we added in our own line - "together or apart."  Since HotS was already in the Navy, and was headed to the fleet, it seems very appropriate for us.  And it has been.  HotS has only deployed (I think) three and half times in the 18 years we've been married, but we've been apart a lot more with the usual exercises and schools and work-ups and conferences and random travels.

As a result of the time that the Navy forces us to be apart, I've always felt strongly that if we had the opportunity to be together, we should be together.  No Geographic Bachloring for us, thanks.  One time, we came remarkably close to doing the Geo-Bach route as my husband attended a 10 month school two hours from our then-home, and I panicked at the last minute and we moved with him.  One of the best years of my life.  A good decision all around, except for financially, and we were going to take a financial hit no matter how that year unfolded.

And then we find ourselves in 2011.  We're a year into a three year tour in a place that I've been waiting our entire marriage to live, and it isn't paradise and good cheap wine as I'd envisioned.  Well, it is paradise and good cheap wine, but there are bad sides, too.  The school doesn't seem to be a good fit for our kids.  One child is having some medical issues that may or may not be well served by the medical community here.  My kids are really, really missing their friends - more so than ever before.  And the oldest will be starting high school in just another year, a milestone that causes many military families to reconsider the choices that military life presents to them.

I don't have plans to up and leave HotS here alone surrounded by paradise and cheap wine, but never before have I considered the possibilities so seriously.  I don't think I've judged other people's decisions, especially since I read the eye-opening letter that SpouseBUZZ received way back in 2009, but I've never felt it could be for us.  I still don't think it is for us, but I'm beginning to see how the possibility might become a part of our family choices.

I'm certainly not the only mil-spouse who has reconsidered Geo-Bachelorhood.  Back about a million years ago, I had cut out a Jacey Eckhart article on why she didn't think that Geo-Bacheloring was a good choice for her family.  I stumbled across that article as we were clearing out papers to make the move that I almost didn't make, and it helped me feel more confident that my decision was right.  (You can somehow read this article here via Google - if the link takes you to the wrong page, it starts on page 111 and it is the sidebar article across three pages:  Take Me With You.)  In searching for an online version of that article, I discovered that her family is in the middle of their second round of GeoBachdom.  (Which caused her to write a humorous bit on why the military wasn't studying the phenomenon.)

Life has an amazing way of taking a "never" and turning it into a "maybe" when you aren't looking.  I know that there are SpouseBUZZ readers who are part of military families who choose to live apart, and I've heard that sometimes those families feel a little outside the normal military world.  We don't want you to feel alone.

If you're a military family whose made the hard decision to live separately, I'd love to hear your story.  If you've considered it and decided against, I'd love to hear that, too.  One of our goals here at SpouseBUZZ is to make us all know that we're not in this alone, that someone else has been in the same boat, that someone else has dealt with the same challenges.  Somehow that knowledge makes it a little easier, at least for me.  And no matter what, military families are military families, whether they're together or apart.

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