Iv’e been married to the military for 20 years.
Please, let me clarify by saying, I have been married to my husband for 19 years, who has been in the Marine Corps for 20 years. We were dating when he left for boot camp and I have been with him throughout his entire career. It’s safe to say I’ve been married to the military.
I don’t believe that what we do defines who we are as individuals, but obviously the military has been a huge aspect of our lives. He is not just a Marine and I am not just a Marine’s wife. He is a Marine and I am a Marine’s wife, but we are also so much more.
That said, this post is less about his career and more about my experience. It is often said, that a military spouse is one of the hardest jobs in the military. I can attest to that.
I am not here to deter you from this because honestly, though it’s been tough, it’s also been very rewarding in many ways. I do not discourage marrying into the military. It’s a great life, if you allow it to be. What do I mean?
I was 18 years young when my husband joined the Marine Corps in 1999. Today, as I write this, I am 39 years old. Where has the time gone?!
The bad & ugly
First, I’d like to talk about the ugly parts of my experience, the part I wasn’t sold on or ready for. I wasn’t prepared to be alone, a lot and develop severe anxiety over it.
Once we started a family, I wasn’t prepared to more often than not, feel like a single parent and that can breed resentment. (I choose not to resent him for what is outside of his control)
I’m just trying to be transparent here, it’s not all peaches and cream.
My husband is an amazing dad. I couldn’t raise my boys without him. But, there are more days than not, that he doesn’t see his kids. He isn’t here when they wake up, before or after school, for dinner, or even bedtime, most nights. Then there are deployments which for some women, can be up to one entire year. Imagine that.
They could miss your kid’s birthdays and you have to hold your crying child that misses their mama or dada. It’s not for the weak and if you start weak you will end strong. I promise you that.
- Keep in mind that everyone will have a different story with some similarities. Depending on their job will determine their hours and deployments.
I have grown so much through these years and now I have a better understanding for what it takes to enlist in one of the hardest jobs in the military. It takes strength, independence, selflessness, a whole lotta prayer and the ability to support. Not only support for your spouse, which is super important, but also support for others in your community, who are going through the same struggle.
I’ll never forget one year, in October we moved into base housing in Maine and I had a “Boo gram” on our doorstep from a neighbor. It’s something so small that meant so much from someone (a stranger at the time) who understands what it’s like to have kids who move sometimes too often.
Or when we moved to Brooklyn and had an entire squad of strangers who would become friends, help us unload our entire moving truck.
I cannot stress enough to reach out to spouses in your community.
As we near the end of his career, I look back over the years and it brings me so much fulfillment. We’ve had it tough, yet it’s been pretty amazing.
It’s safe to say that we have both grown up in the Marine Corps. We joined as kids, we depart as adults with a lot of life in between. I was able to see and do things I never would have otherwise.
I’m proud to say the title military spouse ultimately didn’t break me. It gave me resiliency, strength, independence, the ability to bend but not break and showed me that life never stays the same, it’s always changing and change is good.
Tips if you’re considering marrying into the military
- Know what you’re getting yourself into. Understand that you’re leaving your old life behind to start a new one. It’s going to be an adventure! You will miss your family and friends and celebrating holidays and special occasions with them.
- Don’t build a wall of resentment towards your spouse over long hours, training away from home and deployments. You are their biggest support system and they need our understanding and unconditional love. It’s just as hard for them as it is for us. It’s certainly a selfless position you’re enlisting into.
- Recreate yourself. This is a new chapter in your life, do what you can to make the most of it.
- Get involved. There are endless opportunities for involvement with other spouses. I will post some ideas and links below.
- Travel, as much as you can, you won’t regret it.
- Make new friends, some may be around for only a season and some will stay around for a lifetime.
You will learn there are so many generous businesses and organizations that support the military resulting in freebies and discounts. Organizations that benefit the military put on events all the time to give back to military families for their sacrifice. They may vary depending on where you live.
Contact your local USO. We saw a handful of Broadway shows & sporting events (MLB, NHL, NFL) compliments of the USO.
Don’t forget to ask for a military discount every time you go to a restaurant, make a purchase or book a hotel. 🙂
Live off base or on base? I’ve done both. I would recommend living on base versus off base for a few reasons. 1. Community involvement 2. Easy transition for kids to make friends quickly (and me too) 3. I feel safe walking around in a new area with my kids.
Resources for involvement
Your family readiness officer (ask your spouse for their contact info) should be helpful to you upon a new duty station.
Protestant Women of the Chapel:
Military spouses club:
Transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill to Spouse and Dependents
Opportunities vary depending on location and your life is what you make it despite your circumstances. Love can go to great distances.
Please keep in mind that this is MY story & everyone’s story is different.
Do you have any experiences or involvement resources you can share? Did you find this post useful?
Spread the love, down below by sharing with your friends or leaving a comment! Thanks so much for reading!
Be sure to read about month of the military child here.