I believe that not one military spouse knew exactly what they were getting themselves into once they said yes to the most anticipated question of their lives – “will you marry me?” For most their response is an inaudible cry of “yes”, with perhaps an onset of joyful tears. But rarely do we stop and wonder what type of life we are getting ourselves into. It is not until after the pure excitement settles, and an abundance of congratulations from family and friends are given, that we take a moment to contemplate what military life will mean for us.
A little more ambitious, I had high hopes that my husband and I were going to tie the knot as soon as I laid eyes on him years ago. Because of this confidence I already dreamt up a life living the military lifestyle with the man of my dreams. However, after the excitement of my engagement subsided, my thoughts about military life became more apparent, and I was drawing conclusions on how my life would be before actually living it. And well, after a little over a year as a military spouse, I have to say some of my preconceived thoughts were way off. Here are just a couple of those predetermined viewpoints I had.
– Most military members are rigid or cold at times. I am not sure where I got this idea, seeing as my husband was nothing of the sort. But perhaps it was the fact that the military to me is almost defined by obedience and discipline. I had feared getting to know my husband’s colleagues at first, thinking I wouldn’t be able to communicate or get to know them. With an open book personality, I was afraid I would be embarrassing my husband. At times I would shy away from meeting anyone. But as I soon found out, I had nothing to fear. I learned that most, if not all, service member are as personable and very kind. Most of my husband’s work friends are just as much my friends now. And as Marines, they are some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
– Being in the military means job security. Before our nation cried out and determined that we were in a recession, my belief was if you joined the military you will have a sense of financial security. Now in no way did I believe that living the military lifestyle meant living large, but I did have the idea that when it came to my husband’s job, we were secure. The truth became apparently overwhelming after realizing how big of a cut the military is taking. To me, this just confirms the pride these men and women have when signing away their lives to serve this county. To know that the government can hold checks or that personal commitments could be cut short, these men and women are still willing to join. This shows how compassionate these service members are about their job.
– The battle of rank, and the snooty officer’s wife. This is a stereotype that many who are not involved with the military hold on to. When my husband first commissioned as an officer I was sure that rank would be an issue in some way or another. Are enlisted wives going to view me as snooty? Is there some ridiculous law that states I can’t even talk to an enlisted wife? And if I am only “allowed” to talk with officer wives, does that mean I’ll mostly be around snooty women? From all the nonsense I had heard, this is what my mind was leading me to believe. It didn’t take long for me to realize these ideas were ridiculous! To be honest, with some of the spouses I have met I couldn’t even tell you what rank their husbands or wives hold, because as a spouse we don’t share their rank. But I can say that I do have both enlisted and officer wives as some of my closest friends. And not one spouse I have met strikes me as being snooty.
– Tricare is a nightmare. With everything in the military seeming to be slow or unreliable at times, my initial thoughts about Tricare were far from being positive. However, once I registered as a dependent everything was taken care of there. With limited questions and no hassle at all, I was covered instantly. And since then I’ve made phone calls to Tricare and have received excellent customer service. Honestly, I was shocked by this. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that this never changes for me.
This small list of realizations about the military is just a portion of what I have learned throughout my experience so far as a spouse. As the years go on, and my life as a military spouse matures through deployments, moves and meeting new people, I look forward to more of a personal growth.