“Well you knew what you were getting yourself into when you married him.”
Do you know how much I hate it when people say that to me?
I HATE IT A LOT!!!
I’ll set the scene for you. Ahem.
I’m having a bad day. Maybe the submarine has interfered with my plans one too many times. Maybe I’m tired of not having any parental support from my husband because he is unable to come home. Maybe I’m just not my rosy patriotic best, OK? I am an adult and I know that in the grand scheme of things, my bad mood will go away soon and I’ll start afresh tomorrow. But for now, maybe I just go to one of my friends to vent and complain, and believe it or not, I try not to sound whiney. This friend, usually a person from my non-military life, says to me, “Well you knew what you were getting yourself into when you married him.”
Yes. Many of us knew what sort of journey this life would bring us. But knowing that we’re signing up for difficulties and living through them on the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, deployment-to-PCS-to-another-deployment is on a whole different level. Most of the spouses I’ve met are very VERY proud and patriotic people. But we all have bad days and weeks. Maybe my non-military friends just don’t know HOW difficult we have it.
I was a military kid and I knew the lyrics to the Marine Corps Hymn when I was eight years old. I grew up around all the pomp and ceremony that comes with parades and command events, and I attended elementary schools in five states I think. I was so used to telling my friends that I had to move before the next school year, that once we stayed in the Northern VA area for so long, my friends stopped believing me when I told them I was moving. (My dad’s orders kept getting changed. Imagine!) Then I decided I wanted to marry my beloved sweetheart, a submariner in the Navy and my dad wanted to have a chat with me. He didn’t care that I went from being a Marine Corps kid to a Navy wife, but he did want to make sure that I understood that this life would be unlike anything I had every experienced before. He specifically wanted me to know and understand that there would be secret things that my Sir could never share with me. And that SubSpouse life means a lot of loneliness.
And I love the life I live. But it is not easy. To illustrate, my Sir has hardly seen our daughter in weeks. And I’m not the only spouse who has to repair the car problems and fix the clogged sink disposer and handle all of the chores and errands and soothe the nightmares and wonder if the runny nose is just a runny nose (or is it the FLU!?!?!?!?! NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!) all by myself. So yes, sometimes, we have days that overwhelm us and fatigue that sinks into our bones.
Because I’m an adult, I know that this friend probably doesn’t know how hurtful their words were to me. They weren’t trying to be unkind, but they probably measured my problems by their own and compared them and thought that I should “stop whining” and handle it. And for the record, I know how truly blessed I am. Let’s go back to that.
I married my best friend. He is the most brilliant man I know and I am still baffled, years into our marriage, that he picked me. And I’m typing this while my daughter sits on my lap and she’s so beautiful it hurts. And the job my husband carries out allows me to stay home to raise her.
However fortunate I am though, I also have my down times.
For instance, last week, my husband only came home twice. Why? Because he was working so late that the thirty minute drive home was too much to consider when he can sleep in his rack on board instead and get a tiny bit more sleep. He hasn’t really seen his daughter in ages, because she goes to sleep so early. We’ve tried to keep her awake later in the evening, but she just sort of passes out. Did I think that having a baby with my husband would mean being a single parent for me for the most part? No.
So while I understand that people are starving in the world, or suffering from terrible racial injustice, or declaring bankruptcy and living on the street, am I still not allowed to have a bad day where I can just vent to a friend for a little? Because it’s a bad day, not a bad life. I’m just struggling with emotions and need a friend. So if your MilSpouse friend comes to you and just needs to vent some feelings so that the negative emotions can feel less overwhelming, please don’t remind them that they signed up for this. Listen to them. Offer them your support. Because they will support you in your turn. Because our troubles are less troubling when we have a friend with whom to share them. Because the MilSpouse, and especially in my experience, the SubSpouse, is a fearless wonder woman (or man!) and can achieve ALL the things, but even we need friends to help us through this journey. This journey that we chose, but we did NOT choose to embark alone!