We wish we could shake the hand of every member of military personnel to thank them for looking after our country, but it seems as though they’re not the only ones we should be thanking. Many people forget that these sergeants and corporals have wives and girlfriends at home, who also feel the full force of combat. Because of this, many people disregard the fact that they live and breathe military life. That’s why these military wives and girlfriends really want you to know a few things about their lives.
A military wife
When you think of a military wife, you probably think of those adorable videos that circulate around social media. These are the videos that show these military personnel and their wives reuniting in an airport arrivals lounge, or on the army base.
They are emotional, and they truly pull on your heartstring. Because we only see one half of their relationship, it’s easy to forget that these women have actual lives beyond their military partners. This is what it’s really like to be married to a member of the military.
You’re always the third wheel
Everyone likes to think that their relationship is the most important thing in the world. However, this isn’t the case when you are a military wife. Because your partner is serving their country, their job and their duty often comes first – and your relationship second.
This means that you often feel like a third wheel, and you often feel as though you aren’t as important. Although your spouse probably loves you more than anything else in the world, this is a sacrifice that you both signed up for.
The rates are high
When you get married, you’re so in love with your significant other that the thought of divorce barely even crosses your mind. After all, who thinks about divorce as soon as they get married?
However, the divorce rate for those who serve in the military are extremely high. Thanks to the long working hours, the time away from each other, and the emotional turmoil of both serving in the military and watching your spouse go through their training, many marriages don’t last longer than three years. If they do, it’s a rarity.
Communication is key
Being a military wife or girlfriend is hard, and you often have to think outside of the box to ensure that you can actually spend time with your spouse.
Because their work often takes priority, it may be that you have to schedule some quality time and write it in the diary a few days before. After all, you might not see your spouse for days at a time, and you don’t want to miss out on seeing them – even if it is only for a couple of hours. Of course, snacks make these meetings even better.
You become stronger
Although it can often be hard to be away from your loved one, being a military wife or girlfriend can really help you become a better person. You not only learn to be patient and resilient, but you also learn to be as independent as possible.
With nobody else around you to help fix your car, move house, fix the wall in your kitchen, or just make friends to spend time with, you have to learn to do it all by yourself. While you miss your spouse terribly, you’re almost always proud of how far you have come.
Life is constantly changing
Many people believe that military wives and girlfriends should just learn to live with the hand that they have been dealt, because they chose to marry a member of the military.
However, this is not completely true. Every year, the rules and the regulations of the military change. This means they never know what could happen next. They are constantly torn between the life that they want to lead with their significant other, and the life that exists within the military. There’s just no way to know what’s going to happen next.
The deployment curse exists
The next time you speak to a military wife, you might want to ask them about the “deployment curse.” Many women stand by the fact that this exists because they have experienced it for themselves.
This curse takes place every time their husband or spouse gets deployed and plays havoc just a few days later. As soon as their significant other leaves their house, something goes wrong. The washer might break, the refrigerator might break, the bed might break, or even the car might break. It almost always happens.
They also serve their country
It’s amazing to think of the sacrifice those in the military make every day. They serve their country, and they aim to keep everyone safe.
However, what people don’t realize is that the wives and girlfriends of these military personnel also serve their country. They have to live without their significant others for days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years on end. Of course, this is not your typical marriage, and something they have to simply deal with without anyone else giving it a second thought.
It can change them
It’s no secret that combat changes people. Those in the military see things that most of us can’t even comprehend, and then they have to come back and live a normal life as though nothing has changed.
This can be incredibly hard for these military personnel, and it can often change who they are as a person. They may have a new lease of life, or they might shy into themselves. It’s down to the military wives and girlfriends to understand that this is nothing personal, and that the love they have for each other is still there.
It’s more than an emotional reunion
There’s nothing more heartwarming than seeing military wives reunite with their husbands after months away from each other.
Their tears and their hugs show just how much they mean to each other, but this reunion is so much more than that emotion first meeting. It can often take couples weeks to re-adjust to being together again, and things get even more complicated when there are children involved. Many wives have had to watch with a heavy heart as their children look at their father as a stranger.
It’s hard on the kids
Being away from your husband or significant other can be extremely difficult, but sometimes these wives and girlfriends have to stay strong for the sake of their children. Deployment can be incredibly hard on children because they often don’t understand what is going on.
They can’t comprehend that their daddy won’t be coming home like their friends’ fathers, and they can find the time apart extremely alienating. The experience of being a military wife can often rip families apart, or they can push them back together. There’s just no telling which one it would be.
Precious moments are missed
The people who serve in our military not only put their life on the line when they are deployed, but they also put their precious moments on the line.
Because they are often called away at a moment’s notice, they sometimes have to leave during the most important times of their lives. If a military wife discovers she is pregnant just before her husband is deployed, she has to experience everything on her own. He won’t be there to experience the growth, the scans, or even the baby kicking. They miss all of that.
Moving is a part of life
Being a military wife means that you often have to travel around the world. If your significant other is sent to a base across the country, you go with him. This can happen every few years and can become incredibly disruptive.
Although you resign to the fact that moving will be a part of your life, it doesn’t make moving on any easier. You often feel as though you’re living out of cardboard boxes, and making any real friends or connections with neighbors can be almost impossible.
They have their own story
Military wives want people to remember that they have their own lives outside of their marriage. Yes, their spouse is in the military, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have their own interests and hobbies.
While these women do miss their significant others when they are deployed, they do not simply wait on the couch for them to return. They often have their own jobs, they have their own careers, and they have their own stories that they want to tell. They are more than their marriage.
Military wife drama is real
Life is full of drama, but it seems as though the life of a military wife is full of more drama than we’re used to. Because they are often away from their spouses for months on end, military wives and girlfriends often band together to form friendship groups.
They help each other out, they keep each other company, and they relate to their stories. However, this also means that the military wife drama is real. There are catfights, there are physical fights, and it sometimes gets pretty messy.
Sometimes people don’t understand
Living the life of a military wife is something you just don’t understand until you’ve lived it yourself. Sometimes, this can often cause rifts between military families and non-military families.
From a military wife’s point of view, those in non-military families don’t appreciate the small things in life. When one wife complains about her husband being one hour late from work, they have no idea what it’s like for a military wife to wait for months on end for her husband to come home from work. It’s just not as simple as that.
Goodbyes never get easier
Can you imagine saying goodbye to your spouse for six months? For some of us, it’s a thought we don’t bear thinking about, because it’s too painful. This is the life that military wives and girlfriends live on an annual basis, but goodbyes don’t get any easier.
No matter how many times they have said goodbye to their significant other in the past, each time is just as painful as the last. The worries are there, the tears are flowing, and the heart is constantly aching. It’s something you just don’t get used to.
Secrets are a way of life
Much of the work that goes on within the military is classified, which means that military personnel can’t repeat this information to anyone.
This doesn’t just mean the people they walk past on the street, because this also means their wives and girlfriends. Although it can be hard to keep their location or their work a secret, these military personnel have to keep their lips sealed. This means that secrets are a way of life for the wives and girlfriends. They just have to trust that their husband or spouse is safe and well.
It’s a diverse unit
People always talk about military wives and girlfriends, but the extended military unit is actually an incredibly diverse unit. In today’s day and age, more and more women are making their way into the military, which means that their husbands and spouses are left behind instead.
As if that wasn’t enough, there are also countless LGBT couples within the military, who all have to deal with the fact that their significant others are away for months at a time. The world is changing, and it’s no longer just about the wives.
It’s better to ask for help
When those who don’t understand the life of a military wife hear of their story, they immediately feel sorry for them. They want to give them a hug, they want to comfort them, and they want to show them that they understand their situation is a tough one.
However, military wives don’t appreciate that. If you want to show a military wife that you are thinking about them, ask them if they want any help. The best thing you could do is offer to babysit, to give the mom time to herself for the first time in months.
Sleeping is a luxury
Although military wives often try to get on with their lives while their spouses are deployed, that doesn’t stop them from constantly worrying about their wellbeing.
These thoughts and worries often keep them up at night, and you would think that they would go when their significant other comes home. Yet, this just isn’t the case. Many military personnel suffer from PTSD, but military wives can also suffer from these troubles. They may lie in a constant state of panic, even though their spouse is lying right next to them.
Unemployment is high
It’s no secret that military wives have to move around a lot, which means that they often can’t tie down a job for very long.
This can drastically affect their chances of landing another job because many employers look at their longevity and their situation and wonder whether they would make the right fit. In fact, the unemployment rate is four times higher than the national average for military wives because of this. It’s common misconceptions and thoughts like this that stop these women from living a normal life.
Base housing is incredibly strict
Although many military wives and girlfriends live in their own homes, there are also many who live on base with their husbands or spouses.
While they may feel incredibly lucky to have this kind of accommodation to live in, they also have to cope with the fact that base housing is incredibly strict. These women can often receive citations for trivial reasons. They might have left a stroller outside on their porch, they may not have pulled out the weeds in their front yard, or they might not have trimmed their grass.
Pets are rarely an option
Military wives often feel incredibly lonely while their significant other is deployed, but getting a pet is rarely an option. Base housing rarely allows pets, and then you have to think about the pet itself.
Because you move around so much as a military wife and girlfriend, it would not be fair on the animal to constantly take it around the world. Even if your home does allow pets, there’s no guarantee how long you’re going to be there. It’s easier to avoid a pet altogether.
Being your own woman
More than just being your own woman, military wives are adamant that having a career path in mind is a great way to deal with their husband not being around.
Being a military wife may be life consuming, but the way to combat that is to come up with some goals and desires of your own. Finding a passion to focus on can help you find joy in life while your husband is not around, and it can add vitality and independence to your life as well.
Just enjoy it
It sounds like a huge cliche, but military wives are here to advise that it’s important to just enjoy life.
They’ve had to go through years of tribulations, missing their husbands for insanely long periods, and they’ve managed to make it through. They’ve come to the understanding that it’s all about perception. You can choose to be miserable, or you can choose to be happy. Most importantly, they say you need to take it easy on yourself.
Here’s something that military wives constantly have to deal with that isn’t always easy. You have to be okay with constant discussions about death, trauma, and other subjects related to war.
Military wife or not, everyone needs to have some awareness of these serious matters, but when your spouse is in the military, they say to expect these topics a lot more often than you might be ready for. It’s all part of the intense gig.
Mentoring other military spouses
We’ve talked previously about about military wives seeking out help, and even looking for support groups to commune with, but what about the flip side?
Indeed, if you’ve been a military wife for a long time, it’s advisable that you may want to mentor others at this point. By giving off your valuable experience, you can help other new military wives, and as a result gain so much heartfelt reward in return. They will appreciate you deeply for your contribution.
Plans constantly changing
Here’s another thing you must expect if you’re the spouse of someone in the military – expect none of your plans to go through.
Interestingly enough, this is a good life lesson for anyone, regardless of any military connection. Life has a tendency to make plans of its own, and you need to be constantly prepared to roll with the punches. That said, this happens more often than not when it comes to military families, so be well prepared for it.
Military wives and girlfriends have learned that more than anything, you need to support your spouse through thick and thin.
You love them for their whole package, and what you see is what you get. Therefore, it’s not fair for you to resent their decisions to be in the army, and to not be around. As hard as it must be, you must respect your spouse with what he (or she) does. As a result, your relationship will be that much more healthy and fulfilling.
Learning the lingo
Every industry in the world has a special “language,” and the military is no different.
Military wives are here to say that they are constantly hearing terms that you rarely hear in normal everyday life – so you better get used to it. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself frustrated that you won’t understand what your husband is saying – so you might as well figure out what those complicated words mean. Conversations will get a lot easier after that.
When it comes to any regular couple, the legal responsibilities usually get diluted between the two spouses. Or perhaps it really depends on the couple.
But with a military couple, the one who’s staying at home must be responsible for keeping all of the legal stuff in check. Whether it be life insurance, power of attorney, wills, financial quandaries, you name it – life can turn on a dime for a military family, so you better make sure all that stuff is covered.
Here’s one you probably won’t expect, but when you hear it, it’ll make a lot of sense to you. After much experience, military wives have learned to walk on their spouses left side when they are out in public.
Why, you ask? Well that’s simple. In order to free up his right arm. Just in case he sees someone that prompts him to salute, he needs his right arm free to do so. You don’t want to be the reason he’s unable to perform this basic action.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Perhaps one of the most important things that military wives and girlfriends have learned over the years is to not take themselves too seriously.
There’s enough “serious” stuff going on as it is without internalizing all that drama as well. They advise to try and have a lighthearted approach. This doesn’t mean to just do whatever you please, but to understand that no one is perfect, including you. We all have bad days, so let’s see a smile!