Friday, July 6, 2012

I Am Just A Spouse, & That's Okay!

Fort Drum’s EOD battalion has three companies, and one just deployed. I know this only because some wives from our Fort Drum unit posted thoughts and prayers, of which I did, too. At least one soldier deploying with them was injured on the same deployment Aaron was on, and I know that the work-ups for this company were incredibly stressful. I don’t wish it on anyone.

But what is getting me, in general, is that so many military communities define what a good deployment spouse is and how he or she behaves. I am just tired of all the polarizing factors that can be listed. What we need to start doing is promoting the idea that we are doing what any loyal, faithful spouse in any situation would do- not just the extra-special military spouse. Separation is not for all folks and the marriages that don’t engage in it don’t ever have to deal with the plentiful issues that arise from it. But it’s normal to deal with separation in the military, so we design our marriages to cope with it and recover from its more adverse side effects and consequences. I don’t think I’ve done anything that anyone else who doesn’t love their spouse wouldn’t do; I’m just in a very specific environment that makes what I do more common. A lot of it this is birthed with what people think marriage is, and how they define their own marriage. It’s different for everyone, and what works for one couple probably won’t work for another. I know that I still required Aaron to be respectful and contribute (as he was capable) to our marriage while he was deployed. Emotionally, I think he did a pretty good job and so did I. That said, we had a really difficult time working out some of the finer points of a relationship and I won’t ever paint a different picture. But our main goal, at all times, was to work those issues out so we could focus instead on simply loving each other.

 I know some spouses virtually leave their deployed service member alone when it comes to all aspects of the home life, and they’re still happy and healthy today. Some soldiers don’t even offer up to be a contributing part of the relationship, and spouses accept that. Personally, that’s not for me but I won’t judge anyone who engages in that type of relationship while dealing with the separation of war. As long as everyone is happy and healthy when the last homecoming balloon floats away, whatever you did was the right thing to do.

What I am getting at is that I don’t think it’s healthy to keep defining ourselves by being a military spouse when it comes to certain (but not all) aspects of the relationshi. We are simply doing what we need to do to make our marriages function now and at a later date, hopefully for the rest of our lives, just like anyone else would do. We choose to engage in the environment that separates us from our spouses, and so we deal with that. I will always stand by the statement that if this life isn’t for you, then simply don’t do it. If a spouse is angry that their soldier “chose the military” over the marriage, then there are much bigger problems at hand. Aaron and I don’t make big decisions, at all, without considering each other and even though I just said I don’t judge, I have to admit that it bothers me when spouses do make choices that affect everyone else without consideration. Sometimes supporting your spouse and watching out for your marriage includes knowing when to say that you aren’t all in for a certain decision, and it would hurt you if your spouse went ahead with it anyway.

But this doesn’t just apply to military marriages- anyone could benefit from taking away qualifiers and declaring that you’re just doing what you have to do to have a healthy marriage, a healthy you, and contribute to your spouse’s health as well. I have plenty of civilian friends who would do what I’m doing now, and they would have to do it without the support the military is offering us. We don’t have to worry about a household right now, and that’s a huge difference between the civilian and military worlds. There are resources for us that aren’t tied up in financial-based need, but simply there in case we need it. I have a ton of people around me in the exact same place I am. We’re a bit spoiled and that isn’t lost on me. Hell, even the fact that I’m here is easier because of the military lifestyle- this is always a possibility when your spouse deploys. I knew a good deal of what was going to happen the instant I was informed of how serious Aaron’s injuries were.

 I’ve rambled a bit here, and this won’t be the last time I touch on this subject. One of the reasons I’m writing about it is because in due time, I won’t be a military spouse anymore. I’m neither sad nor elated about that, but I do want to process the change in as healthy a manner as possible. My active duty lifestyle ended on September 7th, 2011 and almost all remaining ties were cut with Aaron’s unit coming home. If I have any military friends now, it’s because we are actually friends who have more in common than just being in the military together. There are a few aspects of this ordeal that irrevocably tie me to certain people (those who were there for me in my worst moment, the spouse of one of the soldiers who helped save Aaron, and so on) and when it comes to that, I couldn’t be happier about who those people are. But that happens in regular life, too- you go through something profound with other people, and that binds you together.

 So stand up and open up to the idea that we’re just spouses doing exactly what we need to do to secure our marriages for the future. I’m not advocating dismissing the military component in any way, but adding in this concept of “just a spouse.” I hope you all have great weekends and such. Thanks for reading.


  1. So very true. I have had a lot of people ask my how my husband and I would deal with some of the things we went through during his time active duty and my answer was always just - "We just do." Our marriage wasn't the military, his job was the military. So we looked at it that way and dealt with our separations and issues and life with the military as the elephant in the room. Did things change often? Yes. Did we have to adjust accordingly? Yes. Was it ever 100% easy? No. But our marriage was the two of us and the military was a career that was interwoven into how our marriage grew and developed.

  2. Just about every time someone learns my husband is in the military, they say, "I don't know how you do it." I just tell them it's what anyone would do for the person they love. There should be more to the relationship than the military...or I at least hope so.