Every 6 months to a year, I try to re-share this one.
I want to share something I wrote back in 2009 answering a question from a wife in my Spouse Column, “Anything But Dependent.” I’ve updated it since then, and I hope you will share it with all your Milspouse friends. There are so many of us that need to be reminded of what it was like to be new and to reach out to those who are, be understanding, and support them.
Dear Marie, I am a young 20-year-old Navy wife and my husband just left on his second deployment. I read your column about wives and you mentioned the young wife and that she thinks she loves her husband more than everyone else. Well, after being part of the command, I find that a lot of wives that don’t seem to love or even like their husbands. I don’t think it has anything to do with age, I just think there are some bad wives. ~The Young Wife
Thank you for the comment. I love getting emails from readers. Keep them coming! With permission from The Young Wife, I want to talk about this. I thought this was something we could all relate to. Being the young, new wife is not easy. I’m considered more of a seasoned wife at this point, but I can vividly remember my first deployment. I was married at 19 and my husband deployed when I was 21. I had a toddler running around me and one in my arms a few months old. I remember moving to a new base and finding out that my husband would be deploying as our household goods arrived. It all happened so fast. I didn’t have time to cry.
I took him to the pier and said goodbye, and I couldn’t let him go. Tears streamed down my face and I unknowingly did the unforgivable, I whispered, “Please don’t go.” I quickly realized that was not something he could change and with a deep breath muttered, “I’ll be fine. . .WE’LL be fine.” Our very young son cried for his Dad and our daughter, just an infant, slept soundly in her car seat. As my husband walked away, I saw the fear in his eyes about leaving me. He was torn between his service and his love for us. Watching him walk away was the hardest thing I had ever done (at that point in my life).
Once home, I went about my day and thought, “I can do this” I kept busy, checked one thing after another off my rapidly growing list. I was doing exceptionally well until the kids were in bed and I was alone. I couldn’t clean anything else, we didn’t have cable or internet. This was the time I was use to having with my husband. This is when we talked. I had never felt so alone. I cried until I was sick. I didn’t know anyone or where I was. I couldn’t even remember how to get to the commissary that I know we passed at some point. I was overlooked. The command didn’t give anything to my Husband or I and we were too young and new to know better. I went to sleep that night with a broken heart.
The next day I received a quick phone call from a woman I didn’t know, heck, I didn’t know how she had my phone number. She introduced herself as my “phone tree caller” telling me to come to another woman’s house “on the boat” that I didn’t know to take part in a Christmas video that would be sent to our husbands. The guys had only just left and Christmas was months away, but I questioned nothing and jumped at the chance to communicate with my husband. I quickly got all dolled up, put the kids in their cutest outfits and hurried over.
When I arrived, women were chatting and laughing. They looked unfazed that their husbands had just left. I was quiet and obviously out of my comfort zone. I had swollen red eyes from all the crying I had done the night before and could not comprehend what was happening. These wives looked like they were throwing a party. They were throwing a party. I quickly did the video, pausing from teary eyes and then I left as quickly as I came, but even more so, I left confused.
A few days later I went to my first wives club meeting. Yes, it was still called the Wives Club at that point. Wives were talking among themselves about trips they were going to take this deployment and how happy they were that their husbands finally left so they could get back on a schedule. I. Was. Shocked. Take a trip without my husband!? Couldn’t wait for them to leave?? They all seemed so happy…even giddy.
I thought these women were awful and I decided right then and there that I loved my husband more than they loved theirs, because I could never feel that way. I went home angry that night and I didn’t participate in many functions, because of how I felt about those women.
Time and deployments passed. . .
And then I became a Military Wife.
I was looking in on a world I knew nothing about at an age when I thought I knew it all. Those women loved their husbands as much as I loved mine, but they didn’t sit at home crying the entire deployment like I did. They were out with their children and each other having fun…living. They didn’t let their lives stop because their husbands were away. They were anxious for their husbands to leave because of the build up and chaos that comes before a deployment. They wanted the men to hurry up and leave so they could hurry up and come home. Those women still cried. They were lonely and sad at times. But, more than anything, they were strong and chose to live their lives as their husbands came and went out of it.
It might seem that there are wives that don’t like or love their husbands because they choose to find the good, But, they love their husbands very, very much so. You must, to go through this over and over. It takes a very special person to be able to pick themselves up and live their life when their heart is missing a piece.
I know all of this because I evolved into that wife. Life is different for me now that it was all those years ago. My first deployment was 88 days long. It seemed like forever at that point. Today, 88 days would be a cakewalk. Now, once the goodbyes are said, I look forward to having my schedule, time with girlfriends and control of the remote. My life is wonderful and my husband, whom I’m extremely proud of and have loved for over 16 years, comes and goes out of it.
Now, I take my husband to a bus at O’Dark Thirty in the morning with my children snuggled in the back seat in their PJ’s and we say “see you soon”, never goodbye. Jokes are made, smiles are given and I laugh with another wife over a comment made. I ask another wife, “Where do you want to take the kids this deployment?” And we chat over travel mugs and slippers.
Don’t confuse the lack of tears with not loving my husband. More than anything, I want him to stay. More than anything, I will miss him and the tears have and will be shed. It doesn’t ever get easier, you just adapt. It becomes part of you. . .part of your life. I still look around and take the scene around me in. That’s when I see her. The Young Wife, holding on to her husband for dear life, tears spilling from her red swollen eyes and for a split second, my smile is gone. My heart sinks to a place only other milspouses know and I see myself in her. My heart breaks for her.. I want to go to her, but I can’t. She won’t understand; not yet. I can’t explain it will get better or that she will adapt. All she wants is her husband to stay.
It takes time to get where I am. It takes practice and a strong heart, because you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.