Putting Life on Hold

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This past week I turned 24. I thought long and hard the night before my birthday contemplating my life – where I am now, compared to where I saw myself five years ago. Wouldn’t I be knee deep in the beginning stages of a job, working my way up to a solid foundation of a rewarding and professional career? Wouldn’t I be planning out the ideal time to start a family? Wouldn’t I feel just a little more stable?

It seems that my life has turned out to be nothing what I envisioned it to be. There is no career, no concrete plans to continue growing as a family with my husband, and no feelings of stability. Deciding to marry my husband was simple. But having to withstand the lifestyle that I ultimately married into has been challenging. And though we are just in the beginning stages of a possible deployment, the hardest part thus far has been the unknown.

Like I have written so many times before, while the unknowns can stir some excitement, it also makes planning your life impossible. The unclear future has kept me from seeking out a career, and the inconstant time spent separated from my husband has kept us from starting a family. But most significantly, the foreseen future of the military downsizing has me fearing the possibility of becoming financially unstable for the long haul.  All of these conditions on top of a possible deployment have done nothing but add more gray hair than any 24-year-old should have.

Being a military spouse has dictated a lot of my life choices, and it is all extremely new to me still. While I am trying to figure out my footing as a military spouse, I am slowly learning how to navigate a future, finally. But the truth is my life revolves around my husband’s career at this point. For example, I have decided I would like to go back to school and attain a Master’s degree in a profession I deem satisfying. But personally I cannot take on this huge financial burden until I know for sure my husband will indeed have a career as a Marine Officer. And this will not be determined until next year. With the cuts the military is taking, the fear of my husband losing his job is extremely real. This one, very important decision the Marine Corps will make has ultimately put my life on hold. And I know I am not the only military spouse dealing with this fear.

As spouses we have chosen to give up some aspects of our own lives in order to move on with our active duty husbands or wives. We are devoted, proud and brave. We adapt our lives to fit into the lifestyle our spouses have afforded us, and we do so with little hesitation out of love. We join a sort of family with units and bond through deployments. We have adopted the military lifestyle as our reality and have become accustomed to the little annoyances it can bring. For some, the military is all they know. To fear losing everything we have worked to get through and accept as reality while the military makes significant cuts is tough. For some the unknown future of their spouses’ career means putting their life on hold. For others it may mean sacrificing some things, while looking into future endeavors for work. Either way, it is an added stress that is now associated with the military lifestyle. And though these cuts are needed to preserve our military, it is sad to watch those who have given up so much, lose it all.

So while I wait to see what the future has in store for us, I can only enjoy this time with my husband and those friends I have made through the Corps. I have accepted the fact that my life is on hold for a bit and will pick back up sometime soon. Perhaps pursuing a career by continuing school and planning to have children are in our near future. But until then, I am concentrated on my husband and his needs for his career during this crucial time. Maybe age 25 will be the magic year where my life will begin to take off.

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Comments

  1. Chelle Y says:

    Right now my life is on hold. I am shy of finishing my bachelor’s degree. I have desires to go to school to finish it. But yet can’t because we don’t know where our orders will be. I’ve been accepted to school here but yet can’t act on it. Because I don’t want to start something to pick up and leave it, waste of money. Or to stay while my husband moves away.

    This decision could have been made a month ago if the detailer wouldn’t be doing this run around. A run around we are stuck in.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I read through some of your earlier posts – you’ve been referencing a possible deployment since you started writing. Most units don’t get that much notice. There’s something to be said for making a decision based on what you know – instead of waiting to hear about some possible news. You could have had a year of school, employment done by now!

    Also, while it’s easy to empathize with your position, if you’ve made the choice for your life to revolve around your husband’s very early military career, can you really complain about job uncertainty? It seems the time to go to school would be now, the time to find employment would be now, instead of waiting to hear what the future holds for your husband.

  3. While certain career fields may make getting an education or having a career tough, it does not make it impossible. With all the online programs getting a degree is much easier than it ever was. Sure, you need to research but I would hope that someone would do that with a brick and mortar school as well. There are also many companies that work with military spouses. My husband has a job that can cause him to leave for days/weeks with less than 24 hrs notice. With two young children ( who are homeschooled) that makes it very hard to have a job outside the home. But I’ve been blessed with work from home jobs, and recently started my own business. If I have learned anything in the 11years my husband has been in the military it is, you can’t wait until the “perfect” time to do something for you. You can’t control deployments or when you PCS but you CAN take advantage what the military offers spouses. And if you are concerned about cut backs and your finances… being proactive is always better than being reactive. Get in school while you can, get a job and build your savings so that if the worst happens you’re prepared.

    • Nicole Marie says:

      I completely respect everything you have just told me. I am NOT complaining about my predicament. I love my life, and I am perfectly happy volunteering my time, and being active in the community.

      With that said, this article was about me putting a certain aspect of my life on hold. I have a goal, and I want to reach that goal. And that goal is a certain career choice. And I am perfectly content with waiting to reach that goal. As of right now, going to school would be a huge financial burden. And because this is article is public I do not go into detail about certain situations that surround my husband and I with the military, so you have no idea what we may be dealing with. This article was discussing the fact as of RIGHT NOT, I personally do not believe it is in our best interested to move forward with my schooling. And I wrote this in hopes to let others who may be experiencing some hold ups do to the military, know that they are not alone.

      I do not doubt that there are PLENTY of opportunities for jobs, or online schooling options. But for me, and what I want out of my life, I don’t mind waiting. My personal career goal is on hold right now. And that is alright.

      But I thank you for the weigh in and advice.

  4. I think it’s sad that you say your “unclear future has kept me from seeking out a career.” I went to school for a traditionally non-portable career, fell in love with my Marine, and haven’t turned back since. Though I have endured periods of unemployment when we’ve checked into a new duty station, moving has never stopped me from trying–and finding–a job in my field (which, by the way, has shown to have the highest unemployment rating right now). I agree that the moves make continuing a career more difficult, but it’s definitely not impossible. Further, I’ve worked hard to start a photography business in addition to my full-time job, so our eggs are spread in multiple baskets. The fear of unemployment is common among all Americans these days, not just military families. I agree with Manda: take advantage of your opportunities, put in hard work, and it will pay off.

  5. I feel like this often. I gave up my career in the Army to be with my husband (who was, and still is, in the Army). It’s difficult giving something up that you’ve started and dreamed of doing as a child. I can’t imagine it being any different and frustrating giving up something, even if only temporarily, that you haven’t even started yet to be with the person you love.

    • My hubby is leaving for his third, 6-7 month dmyeoplent, of our 3 1/2 year relationship on Monday, so of course this has been a topic that’s been on my mind for weeks. It’ll be our first dmyeoplent since having our daughter in January (2 weeks after he got back from the last dmyeoplent), which I’m scared will make it much worse. I was active duty Couast Guard at that time though, so I wasn’t able to go home to my family when I felt like I needed to. That’s not the case this time thankfully! During the last dmyeoplent, Skype was a lifesaver for sure! He watched my baby belly grow that way! This time around we’ve decided that we’ll memorize the same scripture verses together as well as reading some marriage books together and discussing what we learn. Another thing we’ve done since the first dmyeoplent is each wear half of a Mizpah coin necklace. It may be corny, but knowing that he has the other half of my necklace somehow makes me feel closer to him. Praying and fasting together on the same days can also be something that draws you together on a spiritual level. That’s all I can think of for now! I came across your blog back at the beginning of the year, and I must say that reading about your life and thoughts has made me laugh and cry at times because only someone who has been in a similar situation can really understand the profound longing caused by the separation of dmyeoplent. Thanks for what you do! Blessings, Amanda[]

  6. Olivia D. says:

    I think that we each will decide what to do and when to do it. Nicole, don’t feel so overwhelmed – it is great that you are sticking by your husband until finances are in order and the future is more clear. You are still young and have you’re entire life ahead of you, take it slow and do what works for you. With that being said – thank you for the article, I enjoy coming on this site for the mere reason that no only do you guys have great content, but even the worse situations in life are spoken of in a enocuraging way. I thank you for that. :-)

  7. Nicole,

    When I met C I was preparing for the LSAT. I had my life planned. Steps by step. Every decision I made from high school to college revolved around this very specific plan. At the time, choosing C was VERY MUCH choosing NOT to have anything I planned for. Very, VERY much. I, too, felt like I was putting my life on hold.

    For the first year I was closed off. I wasn’t involved. I was trying to figure out how I could still “be me.” I struggled and struggled. Like I know you have, I prepped for a deployment that didn’t come when it was supposed to. I couldn’t figure out “what to do.”

    There was a social event with women SO incredible, SO open that my husband “forced” me to attend. And I had an AH-HA moment. I threw myself into volunteering and have found SO MUCH good in helping military families. THIS has filled my life with joy and purpose. It isn’t what I had “planned on” – not in the least – but it is where I am supposed to be!

    On a side note – and this has something to do with a comment or two left above ; ) – things are changing. Scary changing. C has had more notice of a deployment than he EVER has. We have SO much time in between that it is KILLING me to know so soon. I have never dealt with a deployment that we had so much notice for. The last one we knew three months in advance. This one -without saying more- gives us FAR more than that. It is a completely different kind of stress to have so long to wait. I don’t even have the words for it.

    And then on top of it, we just found out that the Infantry (where my husband is) will be taking the largest cut for the next promotion board. Only 60% will be put through instead of the usual 90%. Because of the timing of his jobs – not because of the quality (his rankings and evaluations are EXCELLENT) – but simply because of how late he took his last job he may not make the cut. He will find out while he is deployed. And after fifteen years of service, he may be forced out of this life. The unknown of “what will we do?” is overwhelming.

    I, like you, am in a very worrisome place. And I have been EXACTLY where you are. You will find what you are meant to do – whether it is an actual job or volunteering, or one leading to the other. You will find your place. In my experience, you find it fastest when you “let go” of all the places you think it is “supposed” to be. The only thing you have to “give up” is whatever holds you back from moving forward.

    Hang in there. THANK YOU for sharing the feelings that SO MANY new spouses feel.

  8. What a great post about a topic that is so difficult to verbalize. I’m a full decade older than you, and I clearly remember being right where you are. I fully supported my husband and his career, but there were times when I just wanted to scream, “What about me? When is it MY turn?!” And you know what? Eventually it was my turn. After some waiting, I got my Masters degree and had a baby (when I was 27). After a few more years of waiting, another baby came along (when I was 31). And after a few MORE years of waiting, a job came along (when I was 34). I look back and realize that everything happened at the perfect time for us. And that will happen for you too. And during all those times I waited, I enjoyed my time with family and friends, and I pursued interests like writing (like you’re doing!) and running. Keep smiling girl!

  9. ah nicole, you know I’m right there with you on this one. Right now, we’re waiting to figure out if Chris gets into an officers program and that has a HUGE effect on what our life looks like for the next few years. While people don’t get what putting things on hold means, it’s totally about doing what is practical for you and the marriage. Would it be practical for me to start grad school this year while we wait to hear this decision? Absolutely not. Our future is unclear thus my big goals are being put on hold not because I’m scared or something but because of the practicality of it all. He has big goals on hold too so it’s not like I’m alone here. I still take advantage of the opportunities I have here, right now but they don’t involve my masters like I want them too. It just happens like that and it’s nice to know I’m not the only person who knows what that is like. I don’t think anyone would say though that I’m missing out on something and people who know you’re whole situation wouldn’t say that either. All in good time my friend…our big career/education goals will happen :)

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