“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~Lao Tzu
When a couple marries, regardless of faith, the marriage vows usually say something about “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad”, well maybe for military marriages, “for good assignment or bad assignment” should be added. You may have thought marrying into the military that you were going to see the world, but you forgot those little nowhere towns were a part of the great big world.
My husband I are celebrating our fifteenth anniversary this week. He married me in a small town in Mississippi that was his second assignment within my lovely home state. I remember him saying many times that he didn’t join the military to get the grand tour of Mississippi although it was all I had ever known and I am sure I probably could have been quite content to spend my entire life there. However, I didn’t just marry the man, I married his career and his dreams; so I knew I was about to be in for lots of moves and lots of uncertainties. A “seasoned” spouse gave me some sage wisdom, she said, “No matter where the Air Force sends you, make it your home, be happy you are together, and never make him feel guilty for choosing this life.”
I took her words to heart and I wish every spouse would do just that. In the last few months, I have heard of countless marriages ending because the spouse couldn’t handle living where they were any longer. Even on the worst days, I can’t imagine ending a relationship because of it. Many spouses decide to “move home” and say they will join the active duty member at the next location. Isn’t this really saying “I just don’t love you enough to endure”? There are so many times when couples are forced to live apart due to remotes and TDYs that I find it hard to understand why anyone would voluntarily choose to be apart for something as small as a bad location. In my opinion, one person’s Hell is another’s Heaven, so “bad” location is relative. Always remember that wherever you are being sent, there are people who have chosen to live there, so try to look for the things that have made them stay. Try to find the good.
The one consistent thing about military life is change. If you don’t like where you are or what you are doing, it will likely change soon. Just give it some time. This is something I reiterate to my children at least weekly. Yes, I know people who have had nothing but fabulous assignments, but at some point their luck may run out and unlike me, they won’t know how to make the best of the seemingly bad location. I am saying this as someone who has had ups and downs. Our marriage started off with a one year remote to Korea, but we landed an amazing follow on to Germany. We returned to Biloxi, MS (his 3rd Mississippi assignment), but Katrina hit within two months of arrival and demolished the area. Living in a recovery area had many challenges, but we were together. Another remote followed that with a follow on to Okinawa which was changed a few months out to….Mountain Home, Idaho! At no point in my life did I EVER say I wanted to visit, much less live in Idaho. I literally cried as we drove down the never ending road to the base, but at no point did I ever entertain divorcing him or living separate because of it. I adjusted my mindset and thanks to an amazing group of people at that base, I cried when I drove the opposite direction on that never ending road leaving. Now we sit in Del Rio, Texas. It is okay; I can hear you groaning and see that look of pity of your face. It has been almost two years and I still haven’t threatened to leave him, even if just to stay with family. I would see leaving him as something I did in reaction to something he did and had control over. At this point in his career, he has very little control over his assignments. In fact, if he did try to change something, it would likely reflect very negatively. Many careers have been ended because someone chose NOT to take an assignment. I refuse to be the reason that his career ends before he is ready. I just can’t carry that burden.
I suppose my point is that you married a member of the military. It isn’t a job that they can just quit one day and decide to do something else, at least not until their commitment is up or they have reached retirement. I always laugh when someone asks what awesome location we will be going to next. One, we never know and two, it is usually not all that exciting of a destination. All I know for sure is that my husband loves his job and I love him, so I am here for the long haul whether that be traveling Europe or living in a secluded town in the middle of nowhere. The most important thing is keeping our family together when able and him never feeling like he has lost our support. I hear people all the time say that they married their best friend and if that is true, then you can make any situation a party by just being together. When given the choice, choose TOGETHER!