Didn't You Know What You Were Getting Into??


The other day I saw an online commenter calling Taya Kyle “whiny” in the movie “American Sniper” because, “she knew what she was getting into when she married him.”

My head got so hot I could have heated my house with it.   Knew what she was getting into? Yeah, right!

DID YOU know deployment homecoming kiss

I knew five things for certain when I told my husband I would marry him.

1. He was hot. (And still is.)

2. He made me laugh. (And still does.)

3. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. (And still can’t.)

4. He had a job that might require him to spend some time in dangerous places and away from me. (And still does.)

Okay, so I really only knew four things for sure, and that fourth thing was kind of scary and depressing, but the other three more than made up for it.

Also? I knew that he would only have that job for — at most — 12 or so more years (he’d already been in the Army for eight years when we met). I planned to be married to him for as long as we were alive, which I hoped would be at least 50 more years. So what’s 12 years out of 50-plus? Whatever those hardships might mean — and I honestly had no clue — I knew they would only exist for a one-fifth of our time together.

His job mattered less than his person.

Then, and now, his job mattered far less to me than his person. I certainly wasn’t about to pass up a great guy who I wanted to be with simply because he was going to spend a few years in a difficult job.

But back to that knowing what we’re getting into thing.

'Knowing' applies only to two types of people:

1. People who were raised by a parent who did exactly the same job in the military as the person he/she is marrying (and, even then, changing times and the nature of our nation’s enemies make that a pretty big stretch).

2. People with the first name “Miss” and the middle name "Cleo."  “ Or possibly the last name “Kreskin”. 

In other words, only someone who spent their formative years living in a family that faced the EXACT same challenges, or someone with really impressive psychic powers could possibly be expected to "know" what they were getting into.

The CIA didn't know.

t mean, the CIA didn’t even know what we were getting into. How could we possibly expect a love-struck 20-something-year-old to know?

Here are five more things I didn’t know when I got married (and there’s really five this time):

1. It would be all but impossible to balance solo-parenting with my career, and my career would have to give.

2. My dad would die while my husband was deployed.

3. All of my grandparents and an aunt would also die while my husband was deployed.

4. I would go into labor in the middle of a hurricane and barely make it to the hospital in time — while my husband was deployed.

5. My three kids would be one percenters in the worst kind of way — the if something only happens to one percent of the population, it will happen to my kids— kind of way. And, yep, he’s been deployed for most of it.

The truth is, it’s really easy to explain how no one, in any situation, ever, really knows what they’re getting into. It’s practically comical to suggest that someone in the military community does. I mean, I don’t even know what my husband’s schedule will be next week. Or even TOMORROW.

What are you trying to say?

Besides, what is someone really saying when they hurl that statement, “You knew what you were getting into?

Do they mean that Taya Kyle (or any of the rest of us) made a bad choice and now deserve to face hardships? That only a fool would sign up for this life? That her hard times are penance for her not choosing more selfishly?

Because there is one more thing that I didn’t know when I married my husband:  That I would come to view my role in all of this as a way to serve my country.

Yes, I signed on to marry a hot, funny, sweet guy who happened to have a demanding, dangerous career. That’s what I signed on for, but those aren’t the only reasons I stayed; why I’ve never given him an ultimatum; why every time it’s been time to “re-up”, I’ve encouraged him to do so, even though his doing so has cost me dearly.

I stayed, and encouraged him to stay, because I’m in love with a man who has the desire, ability and training to do a very difficult and much-needed job — a job that I’m not capable of doing myself.

I didn't know what I was getting into when I married him — and I still don’t. And thank God for that. If I’d known, maybe I wouldn’t have done it.

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. She writes the Must Have Parent column for Military.com. Her work has been published nationwide including in The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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