A few months ago, my niece who lives some distance away, sent me a message with the following question.
Was it hard being an air force wife? My boyfriend is starting to get ready for talking to recruiters and I just wanted to know if he were to get in and one day we got married how hard would it be to be an air force wife?
I spent fifteen years as a “dependent wife”. This was a term I always despised so I came up with a better title: Military Household Management Specialist. During this time, I have to say that I met some of the most, immature, self-absorbed, and incompetent women on the face of the earth. Every deployment, every inconvenience was met with petulant whining and clever manipulation. Deprived of their husbands, they expected the First Sergeants to find suitable substitutes for grass mowing, snow shoveling, car repairs, even light bulb changing and taking out the garbage. And when the nights got too long and too cold, they found comfort in the arms of other men. I had no respect for such women, and fortunately they were rare. More often, I met women who were the epitome of grace, dignity, patriotism, and pride. These strong and self-sufficient women became my role models. They endured much. Multiple births, major surgeries, cancer treatments, the deaths of loved ones. All these born alone with husband and family members thousands of miles away. Military wives help each other through these hardships and form lifelong bonds that transcend time and distance. If the dreaded official car stops in front of your house, they are the ones who hold you up. At the same time knowing, “there but for the grace of God”. These are the women who inspired me. They also humbled me. For I was blessed. Even though there were plenty of headaches, and hardships, missed anniversaries, Christmases and birthdays, my husband was there for the births of his children, and retired from service healthy and whole. Friday was Military Spouse Appreciation Day. In honor of those who are still living the life, and those who are contemplating it, here, at the suggestion of my niece, is the answer I gave to her question.
There’s no easy one-size fits all answer to that question. I can tell you that being in the military is a hard life for families, but it can be a good and rewarding life if you have the right attitude. You have to understand that in the military the mission ALWAYS comes first. We were taught that in a Christian marriage, you put the needs of your spouse first, but it cannot be that way in a military marriage, you have to accept that you will be second, not because he wants it that way, but because it has to be that way. He might not get to be there for the birth of his children. He will miss birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmases and it will be as hard on you as it will be for him. You will move often and you will be thousands of miles away from your family and friends back home. You will be lonely and your non-military friends will not be able to relate to the life you now lead. You will need to be self-sufficient. You will have to mow grass, change light bulbs, take out the trash, and kill spiders for yourself. While your husband is deployed you will need to take responsibility for running the household. You will need to know how to pay bills, file taxes, and balance the checkbook. You will need to be trustworthy, because he will have to leave you his power of attorney, giving you the ability to handle any personal legal business for him. This will also give you the power to ruin him financially, so you have to be a woman of character. You will have to ask yourself, if you would be able to accept that he might have to kill someone in the line of duty. Would knowing that he did, change how you feel about him? You have to prepare yourself mentally for the possibility that he might be killed, but not to constantly dwell on that or you will drive yourself crazy. You will also have to teach your children how to deal with this as well. But to tell you the truth, it is worth it. You will be an important part of the support system that enables military men and women to do their jobs and get home safely. With the grace of God, you will grow and mature in ways you can’t even imagine now. You will be able to handle crisis and hardships that you never thought you could. You will get to go places and see things that you might never have the opportunity to if you weren’t a military spouse. You get to buy groceries at the commissary and shop at the BX and save a lot of money by doing so. You get military discounts at lots of stores. You will gain the support and friendship of other military spouses. Most importantly, you get to be proud to be married to a man who is fighting to bring liberty and freedom to the world. You get to carry with you the satisfaction of knowing that the sacrifices you make, help to secure the peace of the only nation on earth that recognizes that our rights are granted by God and not government. The most important thing you can do, is to be honest with your boyfriend about how you feel about being a military spouse. Share with him your fears and feelings now, before he signs up. If you get married, it won’t be just him serving; it will be the both of you and your children as well. This is a decision you should make together.