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Reflections on being an Army wife

Posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 in Army wife, Me

HabMoo is in his last week of training in Georgia and will most likely be leaving for another deployment in the next 24 months. I’m a little scared of that next deployment since it’s been hard having him gone for just over three months. So I’m taking some time to reflect on just what it means to be married to a soldier.

I’m actually a Army National Guardman’s wife so I don’t have to follow him from base to base or live in provided housing and I don’t have to rely on TriCare for my health insurance. I also don’t get the services and amenities of an Army base and surrounding community. Nor is there a large number of other wives and partners to go to for support and understanding.

But there are some good things about HabMoo’s choice of employer. For one thing the National Guard is more than just an employer. Its his opportunity to serve. He and I have different ways of expressing service. I’d much rather volunteer and give donations. I prefer to choose who I’m serving and he serves the entire state and nation. I respect his choice.

crw_2701_thmI’m not really attracted to a man in uniform, but the dress uniform is pretty sharp. He wore it for our wedding so he looked good without spending any money. His daily uniform is really not attractive, but since he wears it every day there’s more room in my closet. And less washing. But the thing is covered in Velcro and sometimes snags my sweaters if I forget and put them in the same batch of washing.

Two more things about the uniform. First the boots. The man has far too many pairs of boots. They really don’t need to issue him any more. And then there are the duffel bags full of odd equipment and clothing. That also takes up valuable storage space. Can’t they just issue that as needed? Or store it in a locker at the Armory?

There’s a Yahoo Answers thread about the benefits of being married to an Army service member and there’s consensus that some people marry for the health care and paycheck. I had better health insurance through the U of M, but the paycheck isn’t bad. HabMoo gets paid more because of me. It’s so strange to think we’re in the 21st century and he’s getting more pay just because he’s married. This makes some sense for regular Army soldiers because spouses have to move when their soldier does and can’t just immediately find a new job. It’s sort of similar to how a university might do a spousal hire in order to get the professor or researcher they really want to hire. And it makes sense for when a spouse is deployed since there are expenses caused by the soldier’s absence, but that’s what the extra family separation pay is for. The extra pay is something I enjoy, but feel is wrong.

Speaking of money, there are a few discounts we’ve received because of HabMoo’s status. I tend to forget to ask about them and they aren’t as common around here as they are around military posts. We got excellent rates and a nice place to stay when visiting Seward Alaska. We pay a little less for our phones. Sometimes my husband gets a free lunch paid for by someone who appreciates the sacrifices soldiers make. But no one has ever offered me that honor. (Spouses should get a special uniform or badge or something so people could identify us and offer to pay for groceries, I think.)

None of these benefits really makes up for the time lost with my husband. We’ve been married for a little over five years but probably spent only about three and half years together in the same location. Extra cash in the bank can’t make up for that lost time. I’m not counting the one weekend a month he spends at drill. I like that time to myself. But the trainings and the deployments are a struggle. There’s just no avoiding that truth.

I’m not sure how it affects our marriage. The initial deployment for HabMoo was immediately after we got married so we were still a little giddy from all that and we’d never lived together. So neither of us had married life to miss. Now that’s different. He’s away and I miss him terribly on weekend mornings, on garbage day, at bedtime, around dinner time, when I spot cardinals in the bushes, when the truck needs to be washed, when I visit his folks, when I’m grocery shopping, when I’m excited and when I’m lonely. There’s something similar to grieving that I go through when he’s gone for more than six weeks.

I never wanted to marry a soldier. Like I said, I’m not attracted to men in uniforms and I don’t really get a charge from being married to a man who is defending freedom and the American Way. I wanted to marry HabMoo. Sometimes I can’t help but ask myself if he’s worth the worry, loss, frustrations, and hassles of the soldier stuff that comes along with him. I’d honestly prefer that he not be in the National Guard. I’m proud of him, but I’m also selfish and would rather not share him.

Would it be easier if he just had a mistress? This is the first time I’ve asked myself that. If he had a mistress he’d probably be home more often. I’d have a chance of winning him back or taking her out. Any anger I had would be justified in other people’s eyes. It would just make more sense and be more satisfying to hate another woman than to hate Fort Gordon. I’d better understand what he was getting out of the situation and I’d know just who it was I was hating and fighting. I can’t really fight the Department of Defense. I suppose I’d worry about him leaving me for her, like I worry about his next deployment.

So today I wish my husband was a computer geek working for some big company that was just trying to run his life. I’d prefer him not to be a soldier. But I still like being married to the guy. The excitement I feel when I get his evening calls still pays off for me.

  1. […] written before about my conflicted feelings about being an Army wife. Or a Army National Guard wife. It’s not an identity I chose, but it’s coming on with […]

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