Really, I love the military. It has shaped my husband into the man he is today, and boy, do I love that man. It has expanded our horizons, brought us to places and introduced us to people we didn’t know we would come to love. It’s fantastic, this life we’re living ... really.
And yet, every now and then, I get this sense that it’s not my husband I against the world. Every now and then I feel like the military has slipped into a movie theater chair separating my husband and I, and the two of them are holding hands and eating popcorn, while I’m left off to the side.
Every now and then, I feel like a third wheel.
I get it, military, you like him. I understand; he’s great. He’s a hard worker, he’s respectful and he gets the job done—all qualities you crave and need in a service member. Guess what? Those are qualities I crave in a husband, too, so, can we share him?
5 Ways Being a Military Spouse is Like Being a Third Wheel1. Middle of the Night Booty Calls. You’d think, as the third wheel, I’d be the one getting the booty calls -- but no. The military wants him, and they call at all hours of the night. Sometimes, while we’re on a date and after paying for a sitter. SOMETIMES, even on Valentines Day, when we’ve procured grandma for an overnight visit and have plans to stay at a hotel. I see your game, military, and I don’t like it.
2. The Constant Checking of the Phone. Picture a darkened movie theater and Liam Hemsworth’s face on the screen as the brooding Gale in the Hunger Games, when all of a sudden you’re blinded by the screen of his iPhone as he checks his text message. You rip your eyes away from Liam’s to glare daggers, only to find him standing, his hand outstretched, and him whispering, “One of my troops is in trouble, I have to go.” I’ll never let go, Liam.
3. Travel Plans Are Foiled, AGAIN. No, no, the third wheel understands, your main squeeze needs attention and affection. We’ll just cancel our Las Vegas vacation that we had planned months in advance and you can run off and be together. I’ll just be sitting here at home, eating my Ben & Jerry, wishing just once you’d choose me first. I know that you would if you could, but that’d doesn’t help my Blackjack game right now.
4. Zero Control. As the third wheel, I can pretend like I have a part in the conversation, but, in reality, I’m just along for the ride. Whatever direction the military takes us, I follow along, happily slapping the pavement, looking on the bright side of this new adventure. Oh, Kansas? Well, actually, I don’t have any desire to live--, whoops, already headed in that direction, I see. Okey-doke. Wow, look at that wheat field. That’s a mighty fine wheat field.
5. Being Alone is the Norm at Events. I’m totally used to it, now. The third wheel can’t be a part of the Terrible-Twosome, so it stands alone at the shop Christmas party, or the school play or the gymnastics meet. Other people inquire as to my spouse, and I just shrug, and give them the truth: “Military.” It’s in those answers that I find my fellow third wheels: the knowing looks, the understanding, the empathetic nods. Solidarity, fellow wheels.
It won’t last forever, this third-wheel status. Eventually, my husband will shed his uniform for the last time, and return to my side, firmly and permanently. Until then, I’ll just roll along for the ride, and take my time where I can get it.