“You Signed Up For This”

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This is probably the ugliest phrase that you can tell a military spouse. There are times that these words are said as a joke or simply naiveness. Then, there are instances where a person’s intentions are malicious. These five words feel like a punch to the gut every time I hear them.

I grew up a military brat. My Dad was home most of my teenage years which helped ease the pain. I always said that I would never marry a man in the military. Sure, I dated quite a few men in the military. It was kind of unavoidable living in a military town. The options were to date somebody who did not have their priorties in line or somebody in the military. I dated my fair share of both categories but, never expected to actually fall in love, get married, and have a child with a service member.
The truth is, I knew it would be difficult. My husband is gone frequently. That by itself is hard enough but, if I lacked trust, I would not have a marriage. Typically, if you are insecure and do not know how to trust your spouse, the military lifestyle will not work for you.

 

I quickly learned that being a wife to somebody in the military and being a child of a service member is completely different. However, when somebody discovers I was a military brat first, I am quickly told that “you knew what you were getting into.” There is no doubt in my mind that that phrase is the second worst phrase to say to a military spouse.

 

 

The truth of the matter is, I married my husband because I love him and could not imagine my life without him. I support his decision to be in the military because I love him. I follow him around the country because I want to help him live his dreams. I encourage him to do back to back sea tours because that is what he wants. I give him my support to go to a submarine that is gone 320 days out of the year because, I want him to be able to to achieve the reason he joined the military, to see the world.

 

I do all of these things out of love and will continue to do so but, I never imagined what it would require. I did not think that some days I would see my husband only two hours out of the day. I did not think that his rare days off would be taken away because somebody else screwed up. I did not know that life falls apart when he deploys. I struggle with not being able to say when he comes back from his deployments. I cannot say how long I have not heard from him because it is a matter of his safety. I go weeks without hearing from him. Our only form of communication are emails that are read by somebody else first. I did not expect for deployments to get extended. There is nothing like being in single digits of a countdown and then being told to add days to that number. It is heart-wrenching. Let’s not forget that when he is home, every three to four days I do not see him for 34 to 42 hours. Then, he turns around and goes back to work the next day.

 

I did not sign up for this, my husband did. He signed up to serve and protect his country. Although he signed up for it, I keep things together while he is gone. I deal with my Dad being in the ICU, finding out I have endometriosis and have to have surgery, that my pregnancy is starting to go wonky, and so many other things. I try to make sure my husband thinks I have things under control because him feeling helpless does not help him. I will always love and support my husband but, be careful using that phrase. After all, it is a false and hurtful statement. Please do not tell me I signed up for this, because I did not.

Side note: Being married to a service member can be hard and I highly recommend reading this book, The 5 Love Languages Military Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts, if things are difficult. After all, the branch of service your spouse is in always has the last laugh.