Given that my father is a retired Navy Captain, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on what it meant to marry a man in uniform. I was completely aware that when the U.S. military basically owns your spouse, you’re bound to face a few challenges. You’re also bound to receive some really great benefits. Despite feeling prepared for what was to come when I married Aaron, I quickly found out that I basically knew nothing.
I wish there was some sort of class for people– particularly women– who marry a person in the armed forces, which is why I have put together this crash course for anyone thinking about falling in love with a coastie, fighter pilot, marine, squid, etc. Much of this list relates to deployments, but that’s the most challenging part of the whole military thing, so pay attention.
[I tend to use “he” when referring to the military person because that’s the norm/my experience. I’m not trying to be sexist.]
1. Their schedule is not their schedule
Especially when deployed, “I’ll call you Monday” could mean “I’ll call you Wednesday, Thursday, or a week from Monday if and when we finally arrive at our port.” Plans change at the drop of a hat in the military, so don’t get too attached to any event. Think you’re scheduling a vacation during a period of time that they won’t have anything going on? Wrong. Accept that your life will always be in limbo, and that the airport will steal tons of your money if you buy nonrefundable flights.
2. You run out of things to talk about
Aaron and I still manage to FaceTime for hours at a time whenever we’re given the chance to talk while he’s deployed, but sometimes we just stare at each other or say “I miss you” over and over. Sure, we get into conversations about career, family, friends, goals, philosophy, stories from the weekend, etc., but eventually, you reach a point where there isn’t much to say…especially since in his position, he’s not allowed to tell me what he’s doing on the ship. This doesn’t mean you’re incompatible, it just means you’re forced into to very separate lives while he’s deployed. It’s sad, but just kind of the way it is.
3. Uniforms look even better on someone you love
I felt like I was meeting a different person the first time I saw Aaron in uniform. He’s always in some sort of graphic tee and jeans, so when we started having lunch together near his office– meaning he came out in uniform– I became even more attracted to him than I already was. Somehow, men just look more responsible and manly in military garb, even if you know that when they get home they’ll throw their dirty backpack on the bed and forget to pay the phone bill.
4. The general public begins thanking you
I had no clue that so many people would say to me, “Thank you for what you do for our country” once I became a military wife. I feel a little guilty since I’m not chasing after four kids and managing upkeep of a home with more than two rooms, but it’s an interesting feeling of pride to know that you’re an integral part of keeping your man happy while he’s serving the country. The “thank you”s are a good reminder to lovingly support your military spouse as he works a difficult and sacrificial job. Be his number one cheerleader!
5. You get 10% off of everything
I mean, everything.
6. Looking hot becomes more of a priority
Obviously, your spouse should love you and be faithful no matter what, but I think being a military wife has increased my awareness of my appearance…in a good way. Men are visual creatures, after all, so knowing that he doesn’t get to see you for months at a time makes you much more aware of how you look when he does see you. Some people might think this is shallow or unnecessary, but I think it’s actually a great thing for the relationship. Remind him he doesn’t need to be tempted by a burger when he’s got a steak waiting at home. 😉 I’ll admit, this does become pretty hard when he’s away and you just want to eat your feelings…
7. Arguments can’t be resolved like normal
When your spouse is deployed, you can’t escape little disagreements or quarrels, no matter how hard you try. Just as in real life, they pop up out of nowhere and require a resolution. Hopefully you don’t fight all the time or anything, but if and when these arguments do arise, prepare yourself for not being able to solve them like you usually do. Luckily, Aaron and I don’t fight often, but I noticed during a few hard conversations while he’s been gone that I can’t feel “better” as quickly due to the fact that we can’t just hug it out. For us, a kiss or a hug is the best way to ease tension and move on…but that’s not possible through a screen. I think it’s the same for most couples, so be prepared to find new tricks for maintaining the happiness and love.
8. Time does not fly
When it comes to deployments, they don’t fly by. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong, but if anyone says, “Oh, it’ll go fast!” DON’T BELIEVE THEM.
9. Saving money is a touch easier than usual
Saving money is never exactly easy, but when someone is deployed– at least on a ship– meals are only, like $4. And they can’t drink. It’s a built in savings plan! Also, re: #5.
10. You can’t escape the mustache
Men have the strong urge to grow facial hair to prove their manliness. Since their options for facial hair are limited in the military, pretty much all members decide to grow a mustache at some point in their career. Or once a year, if you’re lucky like me. In my opinion, mustaches should be reserved for the refined silver fox over the age of 50, but brace yourself for kissing someone who looks like he might kidnap you in a white van.
I’m sure there is much more for me to learn, so perhaps we’ll have another crash course in a year or so.