My husband hasn’t signed any papers yet but will be enlisting in the Army very soon. I am trying to be the supportive wife because I know this is something he’s always wanted to do, but I am scared for him and myself. Here is the problem: I am not going to be following him to wherever he gets stationed. I would love to be able to lean on the sisterhood of army wives for support and follow him because that would make it soooo much easier, but my career is in a great place and I don’t want to leave my other family members. He is okay with this and says we can make it work. I know we can make it work but I am worried about being alone all the time, especially because we just moved to a new area 2 hours away from our hometowns where our families are and we don’t have too many friends in our new city. So when he goes away, my family will be a 2 hr drive away plus I don’t have many friends nearby to lean on either. Is it common for the wives not to follow their husbands? What advice do you have for us? Thanks so much!! I really need it because neither of us comes from anything close to military families so they don’t know what to tell us.
This is a very tough response to write, because I really want to tell you and your husband that you can have everything.
And maybe, possibly, you can and this could work.
You sound from your letter as if you are a very grounded and rational person and from what little I have heard from you, it seems as if you and your husband have very open and honest communication and a solid foundation in your marriage.
But I also have to be honest and tell you that you are in for an uphill battle if he plans a full military career and you plan to stay put at your address indefinitely.
Now, if he only wants to “do his duty” and serve for two years, then it may make sense for you to stay where you are if you are happy in your career. He will be training for several months and then may be deployed for a year. In which case, there is no sense in uprooting your household and disrupting your life for the sake of a little more than half a year of cohabitation.
However, if he plans to stay in the military, I urge you to move at some point to join him.
I know some married couples (outside of the military) who lived in separate cities for a year or two–but this was a temporary solution and both couples made well over six figures, giving them the ability to fly back and forth several times a month. This sort of weekend commuting does not seem like a possibility for you and your husband.
In my personal, anecdotal experience, the vast majority of spouses move with the servicemember eventually. They may temporarily stay where they are to finish up classes as a teacher or student but they have plans to move in the near future.
There are also dual military families that find themselves stationed apart or with deployments that do not overlap. Maybe some of these families could chime in and let us know about how they make it work.
During World War II, servicemembers sometimes deployed for several years. However, there was a larger base of patriotic community support for the spouses who kept those homefires burning and the partners persevered because there was no other choice but to stay the course during the deployment.
If he is garrisoned stateside and you are hundreds or thousands of miles away, that will have a very different feeling because you are separated by choice, rather than by deployment.
You also bring up the issue of the “sisterhood” of military spouses and your lack of a support system at your current location.
During the year my husband was training, I remained at my job as a classroom teacher. I was living about a half an hour from my parents and about the same distance from New York City, where many of my friends lived. For support from other military spouses, I turned to a military spouse discussion board.
There are definitely ways to find support, especially with today’s technology, away from post. You may want to check out this post (and the comments) about staying near post or moving back home during a deployment, which touches on some of these issues.
Sit down with your husband, draw up a list of pros and cons and consider your personal and career goals and ask him about his own. Consider your own personal relationship styles. Do you need to be geographically and physically close to the person you love? Or does conducting a relationship mostly via e-mail and telephone sound romantic to you? Do the two of you do most things together or do you already keep your lives fairly separate?
If you do decide to stay where you live, the military spouse community will be able to provide lots of advice and support on keeping long distance relationships going.
Personally, it would be very hard for me to be voluntarily separated from my husband for any substantial length of time but perhaps you and your husband would be able to happily make this work.
And I may be totally off-base here. If so, I’m sure my other readers will be the voice of reason in the comments section!
Please keep us updated on what you decide and best of luck to you both!
“Ask Molly” represents only my opinion and the comments of readers represent their opinions. I draw upon my training as a Family Readiness Group leader, my own experience and that of those I know, and any research I found on the Internet. I am not a trained counselor.
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