A woman wrote me who is trying to make some decisions about the future of her relationship with a military man who is considering special forces. She herself is former military (AF).
After explaining the background of her story, she asked:
And now it’s up to me to decide if I can deal with it. I know I love this man…but I’m scared that love isn’t going to be enough. I refuse to get into a marriage just to have it fail because of seperation when I could have prepared for it better to begin with. I feel that I know the information that the FRG’s throw out there…but I would rather talk to someone who’s been there. That knows how it feels.
I guess what I’m asking is, what do you wish you had known before getting married into the military? What things prepared you the best for the deployments? What do you wish you had done differently to prepare for it? What is the hardest part? How did you deal with it? What questions would you ask if you could go back to make sure that you knew exactly what you were getting into?
I know most of my readers are fellow spouses, so I thought I’d give you a crack at these questions, too. Feel free to chime in in the comments section.
This is my response:
First let me say that everyone’s experience is unique. You can get others’ opinions but in the end that may confuse you more. Ultimately only you will be able to answer your questions.
That being said, I also sometimes feel like getting input…you may want to ask a number of military spouses these questions. Consider joining a military spouse board. [The one I go to is Household Six]
Now, as far as my answers to your questions, keep in mind that I married my husband BEFORE he joined up. So, I was in a different situation. I married a lawyer, not an Army Artillery Officer…but really I married the man, and that is the important part no matter what his career.
Right now, you don’t know for sure yet whether or not he will be accepted into special forces, so I would cross that bridge when you get there. You may wish to consider a long engagement, too…which may not even be a choice if he has to go away for schools, anyway.
As someone who has been married 5 years, and has endured almost a year separation for my husband’s training and six months and counting for a deployment, I can tell you marriages do not fail because of separations. Separations can make existing problems worse, but they do not make marriages fail.
I would seriously look at the basis of your relationship–do you share similar goals, values, and priorities? Do you communicate well in your own way? These are the things that will keep you close even when you are physically far away.
You also need to look at yourself. What are your needs and what skills do you have for your own emotional development? I love my husband dearly and we spend nearly every free minute together when he is home…but we also have separate interests. I have learned to push myself to talk to other people, even when I don’t always feel like it. If you can’t do that, being a military spouse will be very lonely.
I depend on DH when he is here, but when he is not, I can find things to accomplish that make me feel good about myself. I enjoy my work and my volunteering.
Are you capable of trusting someone? Do you trust him?
Do you always have to be in control or are you able to accept that certainly things are just beyond your control and not dwell on them.
Other than that, you can ask all the questions you want but your mileage is going to vary. You can ask about time at work while in garrison, frequency and duration of trainings, and frequency and duration of deployments…but truthfully those are going to vary so much based on assignments, commanders, and “needs of the Army,” the answers you get will be essentially useless.
Knowing myself, my husband, and our relationship is what prepared me best–and that would be the same no matter what choices he and I made in our lives.