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This Army Life – Do you make the cut?

October 20, 2009

cutWhere to begin with this one? I have a few things on mind I feel compelled to share them on my blog since this is somewhat of a venting source for me.

I have to start off again by saying, I’m new to “This Army Life.” I come from no educated military background. My uncle served in the Navy for 20 years and both my grandfathers were in the service as well, but I didn’t know much until my soldier and I started talking again. So, the things I say come from where I am on this ride…not from a seasoned expert as so many of you.

It’s no secret that divorce rates within the military are higher than those of the civilian population. Often times women are allured at the “man in uniform” notion or our men are eager to have someone waiting for them back home. Now obviously this isn’t in all cases, but it’s a problem that significantly increases the rate of divorce in my personal opinion. I’ll be the first to admit that a man in uniform is something very attractive, whether it be a police officer, firefighter, or soldier. But, there is a PERSON behind that uniform also. You MUST be logical. I have been accused by a “good” friend of mine of perhaps being into the soldier and not the man. This is completely false for me. I have known my FH (future husband) since we were 14 years old…well before he ever even laid his hands on an ACU or Class-A. I fell in love with his heart, not what the US military requires him to wear. On top of that, my soldier is not a lifer. In 3 years or so, he’ll be out and done with the Army and no longer wearing a uniform. What would I do then?

I try to stay clear of judgements as I don’t like them passed on me, but I really don’t like when there are bad apples per se in the bunch who chase after men in uniform for the bright, shiny, happy “romance” of it all. Again, I’m not a seasoned military girl but there is not much to this life that is romantic…at least what I’m learning/seeing.

It takes some kind of woman to be a military spouse or girlfriend. Maybe only 75% of them truly make the cut. Maybe more, maybe less. Stats aren’t super important to make my point, but not everyone makes the cut. That’s for sure. We have a JOB, a duty that is often coupled with another job to help pay the bills. It’s often coupled with raising children and turning into two people while our soldier is deployed. Do you make the cut?

That brings me to another issue…deployment. I’m learning first hand what it takes to make a relationship work during a deployment. My soldier and I are not yet married, but will be next Summer. I’m sure it will bring an entire world of difference but for now, I speak as a girlfriend. There have been plenty of times I wanted to complain about something going on in my little world or vent to him about frustrations…but I didn’t. I sucked it up. I tweeted about it. I blogged about it. I distracted myself. They have an intense job to do. Something we can never possibly understand without living it ourselves. We all have moments where we feel like we can’t go on, where we need to break down and lose control. Some of us may do that from time to time and that’s okay…but wallowing in your pain, sorrow, and suffering is never healthy. Our soldiers have a hard enough job and a hard enough time walking away from us, their friends, other family, and home. We MUST be strong for them as much as possible.

Communication is key in a relationship, but you’re not always going to get it when or how you want it. I’m on day two of hearing nothing from my soldier. He has been stuck in limbo since leaving from R&R and I have no idea at this point if he’s finally made it back to his FOB. Does it suck? Yep. Does it bum me out? Yep. Do I miss his voice? Yep. But I know he misses me too and the second he has the chance to get word out…he’s going to. Period. No sense in curling up into a ball and crying my eyes out about it. I was in the Army Wife Network Chatroom last night while listening to the show and saw a wife whose husband lost communication priviledges because someone decided to steal something and nobody is coming forward. She is going on day ten with NO communication and none in sight. Can you imagine? Someone always has it worse than you. We need to remember also that back in the day, you waited for weeks…maybe even months to hear anything from your service member. You didn’t get to hear their voice or see their face on Skype. We live in a world where we are immensely lucky as military wives and girlfriends to have the technology we do today. Does it suck to get that Skype call dropped? Yep. Does the delay sometimes get frustrating? Sure. Would you rather hear from your soldier every single day? Absolutely. But let’s be real folks…they are busy doing a job and don’t have time to sit around (in most instances) and yap. Make every second count. Cherish it until the next time you are LUCKY enough to get a phone call or an e-mail.

My one word of advice: KEEP YOURSELF BUSY. If you find yourself drifting into a “moment” pull out a book, grab a cup of tea, call up a girlfriend, pop in a movie, go take a yoga class, etc. BE PRODUCTIVE. If your soldier is deployed, start making a scrapbook when you’re in your low times. Call it “A Little Piece of Home” and make it a mini-book. Put pictures of the two of you, family, friends, some encouraging Bible Verses, quotes, etc. Once you are finished, send it to him in a care package. He’ll love it. I’ll post some more ideas on here in another blog.

Lastly, be proud. Be unapologetic. Do whatever you can for your soldier, your marine, your shipmen, etc. to keep them going, motivated, and strong. They rely on us to get them through some of the toughest days they encounter.

I am blessed to call myself an Army girlfriend.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. anonymous permalink
    October 20, 2009 3:05 PM

    I make the cut and honey, I have made the cut for years now. You have been doing this how long? A few months? You have no clue. Just wait and we will see if you make the cut. You have only experienced a sliver of the real army life. I hate to be rude and I hope that your relationship works out but you can’t even come close to being an expert on this situation. I chuckled through half of this post. Good try though.

    • welcometothelife permalink*
      October 20, 2009 5:05 PM

      1.) Did you read ANYTHING I said? Doesn’t sound like it. If you read the blog and couldn’t identify with a single thing I said yet you’ve made the cut for years now…I don’t know what to say. Why are you being so defensive? This blog entry wasn’t meant for eveyone to do a life analysis of themselves and post whether or not they had what it takes on my blog. That’s your personal perogative.

      Throughout the ENTIRE blog I said I am no expert and that I am new at this life. That I was speaking from the lips of an Army girlfriend, not an Army wife. Again, did you read before you fired off a comment? And no, it hasn’t been a few months.

      2.) Anonymous? Really?

      I stand by the fact only certain people can be military spouses/SO’s. Just like only certain people can be 911 operators, doctors, forensic pathologists, teachers, even parents. Are you going to argue that also? Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle. That’s my point.

      People posess certain qualities that enable them to be “right” for something. If you hate kids, you aren’t going to be a good teacher. If you don’t like blood, you won’t be a good nurse. If you can’t deal with being alone for long periods of time, you sure as hell aren’t cut out for military life. Am I right or am I crazy?

      You’re right I have no clue what is ahead of me. Only LIVING it will bring me affirmation. At one time you had no clue either…but apparently you’re getting through it just fine. Again, I never once called myself an expert. Quite the opposite really….

      I said and I quote “I have to start off again by saying, I’m new to “This Army Life.” I come from no educated military background. My uncle served in the Navy for 20 years and both my grandfathers were in the service as well, but I didn’t know much until my soldier and I started talking again. So, the things I say come from where I am on this ride…not from a seasoned expert as so many of you.”

      I’m glad we were able to make each other chuckle. I certainly needed it today.

  2. Sara0120 permalink
    October 20, 2009 8:24 PM

    Well, I for one agree with you. Like you, I’m very new to this Army life. I’ve been married to my husband for a little over two years. He’s been in the Army for over 4 years. And we’ve known each other since we were both 17 (25 and 26 now). The part that really gets me is the whole “man in uniform” thing. I would tell people that I married my husband in spite of the Army career he’s chosen. I made this decision and love him for the man he is, not the job he has or what clothes he has on. But I have known quite a few women that go through Army men like socks, literally dating or being married to more than one or two Army soldiers. I honestly think these women are chasing a uniform, a paycheck, BAH, and Tricare. And it gives us all a bad name. I’m not sure they understand that there is a man behind those ACUs.

    I dont think it takes an “expert” to observe these trends OR to love an Army man. So as we may not be life long “experts” on this Army wife life, we know what it is to love a soldier and miss him with every fiber of our being. But I agree that not everyone is cut out for this job. You have to be strong enough to be a single girl, a single mom, a cook for one, sleep alone, to be independent for months on end, to survive without that man you love more than yourself, mow your own lawn, and to find some way to open that relish jar without his assistance. WITHOUT making him feel guilty for not being there. Yes, he volunteered for this life. But so did you. Not everyone is made like that. Not everyone can handle that. But it’s up to you to make sure you can devote that part of your life to being an Army wife BEFORE you make that comittment to a soldier. It’s not fair to anyone otherwise. I think too many people rush into marriage in the Army because of all of the “perks” of being married, the BAH, separation pay, moving expenses, etc. Oh, and we cant forget the pregnancy issue! Hence the divorce rate, in my opinion.

    As for the “sliver of army life”, Shannon, you are standing by your man through a very tough situation, only made more complex by the fact that you arent married to him. No matter what anyone ever says to you, you are a VERY strong woman and you have seen the ugly part of this Army “wife” life no matter what your official title. You have shown us all great strength in the fact that you can be in love with a man thousands of miles away and yet not wallow in the craziness that tries to consume us all. Dont let anyone take that away from you.

  3. welcometothelife permalink*
    October 20, 2009 11:39 PM

    Thank you Sara! So glad to have support on this issue. I know you and I aren’t the only ones in the WWW that feel the same way. We just have the courage to come forth and say something about it.

    You bring up a fantastic point also about it being complex without the official army wife title. I think I will write a blog soon about that very issue. My soldier’s love for me is no different just because I’m not yet his wife. His life is no less important to me. His struggles no less important. His health, sanity, and well-being no less important. If something were to happen to him in this very moment, I would not be the one notified. I’d be at the mercy of his mother. I understand the system set in place, but it doesn’t make it any easier for us dedicated and faithful girlfriends and fiance’s who stand and wait in the wings.

    Thank you again Sara for being a good friend. Your soldier is lucky to have you girl! Hugs!

  4. October 21, 2009 9:42 AM

    I thought you had two great bits of advice.
    Keep yourself busy and know you’re man.

    My husband and I never get into the habit of everyday phone calls. It makes it easier to bear when circumstances don’t allow that everyday contact. I do get antsy at about day 10 though, if I haven’t heard from him at that point. But never do I make it about him, just my frustration with the Army or the unit being in trouble, or whatever is the REAL problem.

    Whether you’re a wife or a girlfriend, you know what’s normal for your relationship. You have to have faith (like you said) in the fact that he’ll contact you when he can. Keep busy until then.

    And yes, not everyone makes the cut, but I have two things to say about that. We/They don’t know if we/they can make the cut until we’re in the thick of things, so compassion must prevail. And sometimes someone is just one good friend away from having the battle buddy she needs to endure and make the cut.

    I’m glad you’re finding support at Army Wife Network. We’re exist to help girls make the cut and show them what they have inside, that they may never knew they had in them. Thanks, Star @ ArmyWifeNetwork.

  5. October 21, 2009 11:17 AM

    Anonymous – I’m actually ashamed to be put in the same category as you as a “seasoned spouse” because as a seasoned spouse I would NEVER speak to a new Army wife/girlfriend with the tone or the words that you used in this comment above.

    I don’t know this girl from Adam or you from Adam for that matter. But I do know that she expressed inner most feelings and thoughts and it is CLEAR you didn’t read ANYTHING but the title of this post. Furthermore, don’t say ANYTHING at all if you can’t say something nice. Who told you you had to read her blog anyhow?

    On that note, welcome to Army “wife” life. It is a strange and complex monster that even some of us seasoned spouses don’t understand. I want you to know though, that there is alot of romance in this life. It depends on what YOU and YOUR SPOUSE do with the challenge. Don’t give up! 🙂

    Good luck!!

    • welcometothelife permalink*
      November 12, 2009 1:31 AM

      TARA! Thank you so so much for your support and comments. I feel honored you read my blog! 🙂 And yes, there can totally be a great deal of romance involved and I feel lucky to have a soldier who values that as much as I do. Hugs to you!

  6. October 22, 2009 12:19 PM

    I think you wrote some very valid points and offer a unique perspective. You are very right in saying that not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle.

    You were open and honest. I think we all need to remember that our experiences and perspective are our own and we need to respect that.

    We all have choices in life, we can choose to be miserable or we can choose to tolerate and make the best of every situation handed to us. I try to do the latter and I can see that you do too!

    Just an added FYI, the divorce rate in the military is actually lower then the civilian sector. About 3.3%. I was shocked by that number when I heard it but if you think of the military population (less then 1% of America) compared to the civilian sector it makes sense.

    Keep blogging and you’re right it’s a blessing to love a Soldier 😉

    • welcometothelife permalink*
      November 12, 2009 1:29 AM

      Thank you so much for your words of wisdom!

  7. November 25, 2009 8:34 PM

    Dude. What good is experience if you use it against someone and not for the benefit of that person? Hmm.

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