Self Expression Magazine

What Being In The Military Has Taught Me

Posted on the 29 August 2013 by Wifessionals @wifessionals
What Being In The Military Has Taught Me
As much as the military is a huge part of my life (it IS basically our life), I have rarely posted about it over the past year.

A lot of topics surrounding military life can be very touchy. I remember talking about a few things when we first got married and Ryan would say, "I would never put something like this on the blog if I were you." I thought some of these things were silly, but after learning a lot over time, I know why he said what he did. Besides there being things that may cause controversy when talked about, I also haven't talked about the Army that much because it honestly is one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with. Rather than sit on my blog and complain about this or that, I just avoided the topic.

Now Ryan and I find ourselves at the end of his military career. He has served 8 years, moved multiple times and deployed to Afghanistan for our country. While there are things I know he will miss about serving, we both could not be more happy about starting the next chapter of our lives.

I want to start out by saying that the Army provides a wonderful career path for men and women everywhere. It offers job stability, a constant paycheck, leadership opportunities and a lifelong career path if you choose to stay in. The Army has put food on our table, a roof over our heads and given us the chance to move to 3 different states and explore new places. There are other great perks to being in the military as well. Companies give you great military discounts and some will offer awesome perks for active duty military families.

Sometimes I look at our lifestyle and I know that I will truly miss some of the things that I have been given or things I have experienced through being a military spouse. You also have an instant connection to other milspouses. This is not only true in "real life", but also in the blog world as well. But so many "perks" or great things that come with being in the Army are given to families because of the daily sacrifice they are making.

What Being In The Military Has Taught MeMy only perception of military life pre-marriage was what I had seen in movies and on Army Wives. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. I, like many women out there I have chatted with, originally thought I would never marry a military man - that lifestyle just wasn't for me. And then I met Ryan. Suddenly, I didn't care that he was in the military, I just wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. It was kind of dreamy when he would show up on my doorstep after work, all dressed up in his uniform, scoop me up and give me a big kiss. Soooo like something from a movie. I also enjoyed hearing about all of his adventures and I was incredibly proud whenever he would share about his deployment. My husband gave up a year of his life to protect my life and freedom - before he even knew exactly who I was.

But once we got married, I quickly learned that there was a lot more to being in the Army than staring at my studly husband in his uniform and getting to move to fun new states. Ryan works insane hours. It has been particularly bad over the past few months. He will leave at 4 or 5am and not come home until 9 or 10pm. Although it is really hard for me to barely see my husband during the week, it is even harder on him. He gets so worn down and he's gotten sick multiple times. Besides the demanding hours he faces on a daily basis, our "time off" isn't much better. You can't plan things 100% in the military. We've planned trips, just to have them cancelled or postponed. Ryan has promised he would be off on a certain day, only to get called in. At first I would be so sad and disappointed, but you get to a point where you have to realize it's not your husband's fault and you being all "pouty face" doesn't make things any easier on him. I know Ryan would feel like he let me down when the Army would screw something up for us - but it's not Ryan's fault, so I make it a point to be cheerful and say "It's ok! It isn't in your control."

The Army is also not very "family friendly". Being married is hard on it's own. It takes commitment, love and a lot of patience. I can only imagine how much more of these things are required once you throw kids in the mix. The military deploys people on a daily basis - that is a fact of the organization. Soldiers know this going's part of the job. But spending months or years apart from your family is not conducive to a good family life. We have friends who have missed the birth of ALL of their 3 children. One of our friends was deployed his wife's whole pregnancy, came back for the birth and first few months of their son's life, and just left again for Afghanistan. I've had other blogger Army wives tell me out of 8 anniversaries, they have only spent 1 with their husband. Separation puts a lot of stress on milspouses and children. Am I saying that everyone in the military has a bad family life because of it? Not at all. What is a reality is that having your partner away from you for big chunks of your life is one of the most difficult things to adjust to. A lot falls on the person who is left behind. And it isn't just deployments. When soldiers are home they are still sent out to the field or have to go away for months on training exercises. They are gone a lot. After going through my meager year and a half in the Army as a milspouse, it really makes me have so much respect for the other wives and husbands who have been supporting their soldiers for years. Being married to someone in the military takes a lot of flexibility, understanding and the ability to be independent and take care of things while your partner is away.

What Being In The Military Has Taught Me
Probably the hardest thing about being in the military is that your spouse has an increased risk of losing their life. I cannot express how grateful I am for each and every soldier who puts their life on the line for this country. It is truly the biggest gift that anyone could ever give. And while I know it is possible for anyone to fall into harms way on a daily basis, these soldiers are placing themselves in front of people who want to kill them every single day. It is not that different from those who put their life on the line to protect us in the community as well. Law enforcement, firefighters - spouses of these men and women I'm sure have this same fear to deal with. You don't sit and dwell on this or it will make you sick with worry, but those days you are apart and you're waiting on that phone call to hear they are ok - those are incredibly hard to deal with.

All of these things are issues I never dealt with in corporate America. We had set work schedules. Yeah, you may stay late here and there for a meeting, but I wasn't working 17 hour days. If I wanted a vacation, I put it on my boss' calendar. Once approved, there wasn't much chance that it would get taken away. I took business trips, but even then they only lasted a week and then I was back at home with my family...And I never spent a day in my job walking around as a human target for an enemy who wanted to end my life.

I am so proud of everything Ryan has done while serving in the Army. I don't think that I possess what it takes to ever be in the military myself. I look around at the thousands of other soldiers and families who serve this country and my gratitude and deepest respect goes out to them as well. I think a lot of Americans don't put a lot of thought into what these people are sacrificing by serving our country...I know I wasn't really aware until I married a soldier myself.

And while I will be forever honored to have a veteran as a husband, I am so excited about what our future holds outside of the Army. I am looking forward to being able to "plan" again, having more of a set schedule and getting to spend time with my husband and new baby. I will always be grateful that the Army was a chapter in the story of our lives - I learned so much about myself while going through the process. But I will not lie and say I am not excited about closing this chapter and heading on to the next (:

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