Even with constant reminders to themselves about how and why being married to the military is worth the struggles, military life can often feel overwhelming, sometimes even impossible.
Erin, who has been married to a serviceman for 18 years, says that her breaking point moment came in 2006 when she and her family moved to Beijing. She says, “As our plane was landing and I looked at the dry, hot, dirty land, I panicked. I couldn’t envision how I’d be able to care for our children in that environment. I said to my husband, “I have buyer’s remorse. I want to go home.”
Megan, who has been married to a serviceman for 17 years, says that she’s had a few breaking point moments. She says, “I remember one year when my husband was deployed and he came back just in time for the birth of our second child and just in time to leave 24 hours later. I already had an 18-month-old at home and was living in the middle of nowhere where I knew no one. I remember standing on the front step waving/sobbing uncontrollably thinking that I wasn’t going to make it.”
For Elisebet and Alex, who have been married to servicemen for two-and-a-half and four years respectively, those breaking point moments have yet to happen. Elisebet, the voice of reason, says, “I’ve yet to feel that life as a military spouse is too difficult. It’s been hard, definitely. I think if you’re not a strong, independent person in your own right, then you shouldn’t marry a service member.”
Alex feels similarly about the challenges. She says, “ For the most part, I feel extremely lucky to be a military spouse. I always feel like the military has taken great care of us, and we’ve been afforded opportunities that most aren’t.” Still, she concedes, “With that said, the end of a deployment was difficult. You’ve been on your own for what feels like an eternity, and you’re and you’re only a month or two away from being reunited, but it feels like those last few months are never going to end.”
Still, these women all agree—whatever difficulties they face, the happiness they experience when their families are all together makes it all worth it. Despite the challenges, the thrill and uniqueness of military life is one that they wouldn’t trade for anything.
Special thank yous to the wonderful women I spoke to whose assistance and insights made it possible for me to write this article:
Elisebet from My Life a Work in Progress
Alex from Munchkins and the Military
Megan from While You Were Away and author of 101 Tips for Military Families Experiencing Absence or Deployment