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Friday, January 2, 2009

Open Letter to All Prespective Military Wives/Girlfriends/Significant Others

Dear All Perspective Military Wives/Girlfriends/Significant Others,

Too often I hear complaints from current military spouses about the nature of being a military spouse. It is such things as we don't make enough money, they are gone all the time, he likes his job more than he likes me...yadda yadda yadda. I just want to take the time to warn all wives of perspective troops about the nature of the beast that is being a military spouse. I think this will also educate civilians about the military lifestyle in general. I am also going to give a little advise at the end to help those who do decide that the military life is worth the sacrifice.

1. Be prepared to be the 2nd priority in your spouses life. The military, no matter what branch, will always be number 1.
2. You will be uprooted and moved. That is just the way it is. Make friends then leave. Thank goodness for email.
3. Long hours. It is normal for military personnel to put in 12 hour shifts. It is also normal for them to have weekend duty. The best way to combat the loneliness is to make some friends.
4. We don't get paid enough. Yeah we don't. Learn to budget. Do you really NEED that new Wii or would you rather your kids eat for 2 weeks?
5. In all likelihood your spouse WILL be deployed at some point. Whether this is a TDY (temp duty), an actual deployment or some other special duty, there are times that they will be away.
6. Due to deployments your spouse will miss holidays and birthdays.
7. There is a good chance your spouse will go to the desert, get sent downrange, or whatever you want to call it.
8. Due to duty hours, your spouse may miss events at the house such as birthday parties.
9. If your spouse goes downrange there is a good chance that they could be shot at.
10. Shit rolls downhill and sometimes uphill. Chain of command. High rank dumps on low rank. Low rank does something stupid and gets high rank in trouble with higher rank.
11. Spouses at one time or another will work a crappy shift, ie 3pm-11pm or 11pm-7am.
12. Your spouse may not be able to tell you what happened at work.
13. Your spouse may be in a bad mood and not be able to tell you why.

How to deal with these obstacles:
1. Make friends. When you arrive at your new duty station, don't sit in your house all day and be woe is me, I don't have any friends. Go to the functions that the Squadron, Unit, whatevers wives have going on. Not only is it an excuse to get out of the house, but you will meet women with similar issues as yourself.
2. Go with the flow. When hubby comes home on Friday and says "I have to work all weekend", thus ruining your "plans" take it in stride and make alternate plans that do not involve the hubby, even if it is just taking the kids out to the park or indoor play area, heck, you might even make new friends while your out.
3. Don't go shopping at the Commissary on a Friday or a payday. You will be rushed and crowded because of the sheer amount of other people shopping. Also have a list, stick to the list. This will help you make better shopping choices and hopefully save you money.
4. Don't take out your frustrations about things that your hubby has no control over out on him. If your "plans" get ruined, it isn't going to help him to have you all bitching and crying about things that he can't help. It just makes him feel like crap. This can affect his work and could be dangerous.
5. Accept the fact that your spouse (I am gonna generally go with he when I talk because it is more convenient) works in a dangerous environment. Even if he isn't directly working with something that can go BOOM he could get smashed, smooshed, run over, or otherwise hurt if he isn't paying attention to what is going on around him. Don't add to his distractions at work. This means, don't call him every five min, don't text him every 5 min, don't email him 5 million times a day, let him do his job.
6. Learn military lingo. You are going to totally be lost if you don't learn some acronyms. If you don't know what MPF is, ask.
7. When you PCS (get stationed elsewhere), take the time to learn about the new location that you are going to. Help with the moving plans and find out about the things that your spouse is otherwise not interested in, like schools, what to do with the pets, and the fun things that are going to be available near the new duty station to do.
8. Get a hobby. Gossiping does not count as a hobby, although some military wives could go pro if it was a sport.
9. Learn how to mow the lawn. Ok, I have never had to actually put this knowledge into practice because A) my husband has been gone during the winter and B) because I have always had a kick ass neighbor who would help me out. BUT! I do know how to do it in theory.
10. Thank God for all the blessings you do have in your life. Just remember, in the past other military wives had to communicate with their husbands who were gone by letters, you know letters that were delivered by actual post men. We now have the Internet, which means email, web cams, blogs. We also have phones, cell phones and calling cards. We have free health care. We have opportunities that a lot of others do not have, such as traveling. We get to meet some of the coolest people on Earth, such as other military spouses. We also get to say, we are military spouses and our husband/wives have really important jobs.

Take Care,


Badass Geek said...

You've brought up some very valid points here.

I take it you've had some frustrations with those romantically attached to members of the service?

Cape Cod Gal said...

Doll, you are a Saint and your Man is so lucky to have you!

You should have no problem making friends. If you were here, I would be hangin' with you in a heartbeat!

Mama Dawg said...

I was only married to a Marine for 5 months so I don't have a whole lot of experience with this, but the hardest thing to accept (and I never did in the short time we were together) is that his family was not #1. That's so hard for me to accept.

Irish Gumbo said...

You should consider having that list professionally published and distributed as part of "welcome aboard" type thing.

In my former life as an architect, I had to read a lot of summaries supposedly written by professionals versed in the craft. That was one of the most concise, on-point summations of ANY endeavor that I have read in a long time, and much better than many I have seen.

And I learned some things. Well done!

Jamie said...

Very nice -
You are a saint and your husband is wicked lucky to have you!!!!

zipbagofbones said...

Thank god my honey is not patriotic, not military, and not a hero. Great advice for everyone else!

Momo Fali said...

I think everyone in the military AND their spouses are to be celebrated and commended. We need a national day just for the wives.

The Stiletto Mom said...

The Man is kick ass for choosing to serve his country and you are every bit as kick ass for being so supportive! Your post made me realize I'm not so sure I could have done it...thank goodness my man left the Air Force a year before we met, I don't think I'm strong enough to deal with any of what you do!
You rock!

Anonymous said...

I, for one, appreciate your husband's service in the military. And your families sacrifices. This seems like a well thought out list that comes from practical experience.
I work at University where well over 100 students a year commission into the military. I sit in class with young men and women and often wonder about the life they are chosing and am full of awe.

Anonymous said...

Interesting informtion. I am not sure how I would do in that situation. Hard stuff.

Anonymous said...

That was a great post Kat. I can see form both sides being in the Navy myself and having a husband in there too.

Fortunately we didn't have a family as back then I would have had to leave when pregnant, however Jordan was born a year before he left so I know what you mean about 'special times'.

When both of you are in the forces it often means you see a lot less of each other - as each of you get moved around and often end up at opposite ends of the country as we did, whic was one of the reasons I left after my 9 years.

Another thing I came across was how 'wives and girlfriends' treated military women. On more than one occasion I was called a slut - just because I went out drinking with male colleagues - who happened to have a wife/girlfriend. They had a hard time getting around the fact that I didn't actually want to sleep with every male in the Navy!

Gosh I just went on a bit ddn't I - sorry!

Anonymous said...

Are you sure gossiping isn't a hobby? I think the stay at home mom I am a full time nanny for would consider that her job if she could.....

I can't imagine being a military spouse. That's true dedication!

Lola said...

I have no idea how much money you get, but it definitely isn't enough ;)

Michelle said...

My son just enlisted. I will remember these hints for the future in case I ever have a daughter in law. He was given some interesting advice by his Sergeant. He was told not to get a new girlfriend or wife before a deployment because odds are when he comes back he will end up with a bad break up or wind up in divorce court.
I think military spouses are saints!

Michelle said...

Technically baby Jesus didn't die since he was a 33 year old man when he died, rose, whatever you want to call it. BUT you are one cool ass chic so i'll let it slide! lol :)

Anonymous said...

Great advice Kat, I know exactly what you are saying.
Best of luck in the new year.

Carolyn...Online said...

I'm always so interested in the wife's perspective. I was an Air Force brat and I wonder sometimes how my mom made it all look so easy.

Jenny Grace said...

(Not related to this at all) You're allowed to be conservative, I still like ya.

I'm presuming you put up with me despite my left-winged ways.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

I don't know how you guys do it. I know I couldn't. You are a stronger woman than I!

By the way, Happy 2009!

Jen said...

this is an awesome letter. I think that all wives could learn from this.

Unknown said...

What a great post, I have some close knowledge of your situation as my lifelong BFF was a military wife for many years annd this is all so true.

The only thing she might add to this list, is be aware he goes on courses with female colleagues (who may have few scruples) and LOOKOUT! That's why she is now an ex military wife!

Me, You, or Ellie said...

You are just *on* it these days, kid!!


Sprite's Keeper said...

Brilliant! So many great points in this letter!

Queenie Jeannie said...

Hot damn, this is a terrific post!!! Great job hun!

Had to laugh at the gossiping thing - good Lord! Isn't that just the sad truth though!

I've been in the AF and now an Army wife, but have zero clue what an MPF is....????

Anyway, HOOAH!!! We're Army Strong!

Vodka Mom said...

I am a Navy Brat, and my sister is the wife of a career Navy Man. She LOVED it, and so did we while growing up.

I salute the men and women in the military and their spouses. Thanks, thanks, thanks!!!

steenky bee said...

Sister, you are definitely a better woman than I. I'm not sure I could take it, but if the love of my life were a military man, then I'd get used to it. My husband's family are all military people (Airforce and Navy). They speak in a lot of acronyms, but they are some of the most wonderful and giving people ever. After reading this post, I have even more respect for the military wives. Wow.

The Mad Housewife said...

Despite the serious nature of your post, I couldn't help but laugh!! I've had too many (usually very young) wives complain to me that they're upset because they're hubby deployed/went to the field/had to work late ect. "WHHHHHHYYYY do they have to deploy MYYYYYYY husband!!!????"

Um, it's their DUTY. It happens to all us wives. Go ahead and cry, then shut your trap and be proud. Don't make your husband feel torn up over something he can't control! Jeeez!

I guess the whining makes me so angry because I spent 5 years in the Marine Corps myself. It's easier for me because I've had the inside view! But the truth isn't pretty, in order to survive the military wife life you have to suck it up! Just one of those things.

Oh yea, add "Giving birth alone" to your list. It sucked, but it happens sometimes. I survived and so will everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Crap! This made me CRY and now I'll have to read it again. Actually I have to bookmark it and read it daily. Thank you. You have no idea how much I needed to read this today.