It had already been a hectic day. I was in the kitchen trying to get dinner on the table as quickly as I could so the kids would stop whining about being hungry. I was tired and was secretly counting down the hours until I could tuck their sweet little faces into bed. That was the moment when my husband walked in and dropped the bomb.
“So I just found out I’m going to be gone for two weeks in June, another two weeks in early July, and possibly another week at the end of the month. PLUS, in between there, I have a class to take and a week at the range so don’t expect to see me much then either”.
Have you ever heard that “timing is everything”? Well, it is. And this was not good timing. (Oh, and maybe you noticed the delivery was not so great either. Anyways….)
On a different day at a different time, I might have responded to his statement by giving a little disappointed sigh as I wrote the dates down on my calendar. But on this day, at this time, that’s not what I did.
Instead, I said in truly dramatic fashion, “Well, there goes our summer once again. I am just so over all of this!” and went upstairs to just lay on the bed and cry. Sometimes life in the military is just too much.
When we made the decision for my husband to join the military, yes, I knew there would be times that he would deploy and be away from us. But I had absolutely no idea that it was going to be like this.
Even when they are not deployed, they are frequently gone for schools, field ops, or other trainings. And don’t even get me started on the misery that is known as “work-ups” (basically mini deployments leading up to the big deployment that wreak havoc on home life due to the constant in and outs of the service member).
After being in this environment for years at a time, it is easy to start to feel like your spouse cares more about the military than he does for his family. This is especially true when important events like birthdays, anniversaries, children’s births, and first days of school are missed.
Sometimes it feels like the military is more of a priority to him than anything or anyone else. Although we know deep down that this isn’t true, there are a lot of days where it can sure feel like it!
So when this happens and when we start feeling this way, what can we do?
Well, on that particular day I mentioned earlier, I stormed off and had a good cleansing cry. Another milspouse blogger, Tiffany of Seeing Sunshine agrees. She says, ” I think it’s important to give yourself time to feel whatever you need to feel. To mourn in a way. Let yourself cry or punch the pillow or whatever. And then once you get those feelings out, move into acceptance and make yourself see the positives”.
Amy of Sass and Shamrocks is great at seeing the positives after spending most of her relationship geographically separated from her spouse. She says, “I look at the fun things we can do rather than what we miss”.
You can still celebrate special events either before he leaves or after he gets back, like Pam of The Coastie Couple did with her husband. They took a trip to Napa and even though it was three months after their actual anniversary she says that “it gave us both something to look forward to during deployment”.
Having special things planned with friends can also be a tremendous help. I remember a particular Mother’s Day during a deployment where I got together for a cookout with several friends whose husbands were also gone. The kids played in the pool and the adults had lots of laughs, making it a wonderful Mother’s Day!
Attending unit events can be a great way to build these kinds of relationships with other military spouses going through the same thing as you.
One of the most important things to remember through all of this though, is that even though it may feel like he is choosing the military over you, he doesn’t actually have a choice. Kim from She Is Fierce says, “I made a distinct choice that I would not blame him for the army’s decisions”.
Heather from Only Passionate Curiosity has similar sentiments. She says, “He isn’t choosing the military over me or our kids. It’s not fair for me to get upset with him or give him a hard time about having to do his job. He’s often as disappointed as I am when plans change. It’s my job to support him and encourage him and love him through it all”.
Giving each other the support that we need definitely needs to go both ways, though. It is important that we are clearly communicating our needs to our husbands. Kristen from If The Saddle Fits says, “What we can do is be very clear and upfront about what we need from each other to bring our best to the relationship”.
One of the most beautiful sentiments shared as I dialogued with fellow milspouse bloggers about this topic came from Lizann of The Seasoned Spouse. She says, “I serve him as he serves the military”. This life is hard, but if we could all just get to the point of fully embracing a servant’s heart like this, then it all might seem just a little bit easier.
After my husband so uncouthly dropped the bomb of all the dates he was going to be gone, after I had gone upstairs and had my good cry, I came back downstairs and apologized. I told him that we’d make it work. I also asked if next time maybe he could try to present that sort of information to me in a better way at a better time.
I mourned and let my frustration out. I accepted it and began looking for the positives. I let my husband know what I needed.
And the best part of the story? In true military fashion, all those weeks that my husband was supposed to be gone and away from home- they ended up getting canceled anyway.