I’ve been meaning to share more about our families military lifestyle and now I finally have the chance to dive into this part of our lives. I’ll be sharing a couple of post because there’s so much to talk about but the most requested question would be the details of a “military wife”. This post is 100% truthful to my experience so be prepared to hear the positive AND negative opinions.
The military wife role is very old school and traditional. One difficulty that I face was that my life also revolved around my husbands work schedule. If I wanted to plan a birthday party, I had to make sure Tommy wasn’t going to POSSIBLY be called in or be on staff duty. There were multiple occasions where we had something planned and he would get called in last minute. It was very frustrating. I also felt that my husband’s job prioritized over everything else so there were multiple times where it did affect my job. Learning to accept that your military spouse doesn’t have much control in their work schedule is important.
Personally, I was awful at being a military wife. There were many forums that would say that a military wife was excepted to clean, cook, help with cleaning uniforms, etc. I didn’t want to live outside of Houston. I got to a point where I told myself that I have to do something for me, for my future. I got a job in the nearby city and starting pursuing something I loved in the work field.
When my husband got to his first station in Colorado, he moved out there first and lived out of the military hotel until I got there. Within a month, we had to find a rental home, pack our stuff back in Houston, and drive to our new place. What’s nice is that Tommy was given a week to move and they paid for our move. 100% of the places we rented from had the “deployment clause” so we were able to move out whenever he deployed. We decided to live off base because the houses and apartments had a lot more to offer than the housing on base. We were given a set amount of housing allowance and if we found a cheap place, we would essentially put what was left over into our savings. When Tommy deployed, I moved back home so we actually saved all of the BAH money. We stored a lot of our furniture and things in storage near the military base. Every military base that we’ve been at has been based on a 3 year term. Whenever we moved, it does feel like starting over; learning a new place, meeting new friends, finding a new job (for the spouse), etc.
Communication is something we all know is important. Talking and texting doesn’t mean you necessarily have great communication skills. Understanding what’s happening and why is also important. Tommy and I spoke with several marriage counselors because it wasn’t something we were great at. The way we communicated a lot was by text. Make those conversions meaningful and send lots of pictures and videos to each other. Tommy and I wrote letters during his basic training and those letters are better than 100 texts.
“Deployed”, a word that a wife or family member never really wants to hear. I was extremely shocked to see that Tommy deployed to Afghanistan 7 months after getting stationed at Fort Carson. For about 3 months, we knew that it was a possibility. His deployment was confirmed 1 month before he flew out. What was really hard about deployment is that a lot of the news/changes happens last minute. Within one month, we had to cancel our rent, pack up our things, and figure out how to move it back to Houston. Some families members stay at the base they’re located at but some move back home to be with other family members or to save money.
While Tommy was deployed, communicating was a lot easier than I thought. We were able to talk, text, and FaceTime regularly. The biggest obstacle we faced was the time difference (14ish hours). Communication and Understanding was very important. Some days we spent less than 5 texts to each other and conversions would go unfinished.
Those 9 months of Tommy’s deployment was kind of a blur for me because I was working and taking care of Liam. The time apart most definitely made us grow apart more than we expected. We had a hard time finding things to talk about, understanding each other’s situation, and everything else. We both continued with our individual lives and it was hard to combine our lives. Distance can make you strong and we know that better than anyone. In the almost 5 years that we’ve been married, we’ve only lived together for about 1 year and 7 months of that. There are times that made us grow strong but also times that made us grow apart. My biggest advice would be to stay on top of communication and to use the time that y’all have to talk worth it.
Care packages can mean so much during deployment. I received an address about 2 months after Tommy was deployed. Your spouses favorite soap, deodorant, pictures, and little gifts can mean so much when you pack them. I recommend giving 2-4 weeks for them to receive it because it goes through an entire process once it gets to the base. I remember when Tommy asked me to send him out his favorite hair gel because he couldn’t live without it.
The job of a military spouse is one of the most difficult roles I’ve had. We all appreciate everything service members do to serve our country. As a military wife, I do realize that military spouses and children sacrifice a lot as well. Thank you to all those who serve and their families.