Why Didn't You Tell Me I'd Grow to Love Military Life?


Military Life is hard and we spouses know that all too well. The constant schedule changes, the PCSs, the TDY/TADs, military housing, deployment, etc. When my husband and I got engaged more than two years ago, the advice on how to handle all the negatives of military life started to roll in -- and I was extremely appreciative. Since I don’t like change and being alone, especially away from my family, this life would be a huge adjustment, so I took all the advice I could get.

I expected it to be hard and difficult. But in the two years I’ve been a military spouse; my viewpoint on it has changed.

Less than a month into our marriage found us in the middle of a PCS, packing and cleaning my husband’s rental house and planning our road trip to Pensacola, Florida for schooling before heading to Hawaii for a three year deployable billet. Two days before we left Norfolk,Virginia behind, I had a complete meltdown. The problem: I was scared and not sure if I actually wanted to live this life.


We talked our way through that meltdown, and the next one, and the one after that, and the meltdown after that (I cried a lot the first six months we were married). But every time I didn’t think I could make it through the next curve ball the military threw at us, I would pull some advice from the back of my mind and I would make it through the day.

I made it through living and working out of a tiny hotel room for six weeks with no transportation. I made it through moving into our house on base only to have my grandfather pass away, and brand-new husband of less than six months deploy less than a week after that. I made it through being jobless, childless and alone in a military neighbor on a (for all intents and purposes) foreign island, five thousand miles from anyone who actually loved me for seven months. I survived reintegration and my first set of holidays with no family other than my husband. These were all the hard things -– the negatives of military life.

Now, two years into this, with my husband on his second deployment, I can’t say I’m clinging to all that advice. Oh, sure, some of it, but I honestly feel better this time around. I still cry, it’s still hard, but it feels, dare I say, “normal” – deployments and military life. It’s just part of it all now. This is our life and I don’t wish for another one.

Over the last several months my husband has achieved some major accomplishments in his career. That means,we are thinking next steps. In the frustrating moments of deciding what is best for his career and us, the words “get out” have appeared.

My heart almost stopped both times it happened. He’s planning on being career Navy. But I froze when I heard him say it. A million thoughts started running through my head, “Wait, get out? What does that mean? Leave this behind? We’ve only PCS’ed once! We haven’t done a shore tour together. We haven’t even been to a ball yet!” And amazingly enough, my last two thoughts were, “I don’t want to get out. I love military life!”

GASP! What is that?

My first thoughts were not of him being home every night with a reliable schedule. They weren’t even of the fear of instability and nowhere to live. My first thoughts were how much I would miss military life.

That's because I’m different now. That shy, naïve girl I once was no longer exists. I love my husband and am proud to be his “dependent," but I’m not quite as “dependent” as I once was. And in that respect, the military has given to me as much as it has taken. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown a lot.

Mostly, I’ve grown to love this life. It provides adventure, experiences, lots of really awesome new friends. There’s a pride to it that I can’t explain. So I’m conflicted, I see the positives more now. I love it.

The problem? It’s unexpected. No one ever gave me any advice on how to handle the positives of military life. No one said I would grow to love it. Why didn’t you tell me that?

Stephanie is a Navy Wife of two years to her high school sweetheart. She is a small-town, country girl with a huge family and a love for reading, writing, and music. She is currently working as a Technical Writer with the Marine Corp, and is enjoying life in Hawaii with her husband and dog before they head off on their next adventure.

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