Realities Military Girlfriends Understand
When we hear of soldiers being deployed, or those stationed at army and military bases, we typically think of their experiences—what it’s like to get up at 5 am and go through intensive drills all day long, what it’s like to sleep on a small cot, what it’s like to fear for one’s life and so much more many of us should be lucky to never experience. But there’s one thing we can forget about: the people our soldiers leave behind. For every individual who is deployed, there is a network of heartbroken and frightened people left behind. One group, in particular, must have a very hard time, and that’s the significant others of military members. Imagine falling in love with and hoping to build a life with someone you often don’t see for months at a time—and someone who you’re not always sure is coming back. Here are realities military wives and girlfriends understand.
You feel left out of girls night/girl talk
It’s not as if you have tons of recent stories and anecdotes from your relationship—you may not have spent time with your partner in months. You can’t swap ideas for good date night spots or fun museums to visit as a couple. You haven’t been able to do those things in a while.
Some fights get put on hold for a long time
Sometimes your partner cannot call, email, or reach out to you in any way for weeks or months. And sometimes, that happens just as you’re in the middle of an argument. If you think having to wait until the end of the day to settle a dispute pulls at your heartstrings, try waiting months.
People don’t know what to ask you
When you tell people your partner is in the military, you see them jump back a little. They struggle to ask you questions about him. They worry that he’s been deployed and that talking about it is hard for you. Most people also just know very little about the various positions in the military and have no idea how to discuss your partner’s job the way they could if he were a doctor or teacher.
Some people judge your choice in partner
Some people don’t even show you much sympathy because they feel like you asked for this. They’ll say things like, “This is what you signed up for.” Some friends might even hint you should just be with someone else, as if you can choose whom you love.
Seasoned army wives intimidate you
If you’re new to the whole dating or being married to a military man, more seasoned significant others intimidate you. Some of them mean to—they don’t want to get too invested in you until they know you’re there to stay. Some don’t mean to, but they just don’t know how to relate to you yet.
Major holidays are spent alone
Birthdays, holidays, and other special events are very lonely. If you’re lucky, you have friends who remember that you will, in fact, be alone for these events, even though you’re in a relationship, and they will plan something for you.
Your partner misses your child’s life
You do your best to stay on top of taking photos, making videos, and scheduling Skype calls, but you still wind up feeling like your partner misses out on your children’s lives.
You reacquaint yourselves each time you see him
Sometimes you don’t see your partner for months, and when you do see each other again, you don’t just get to fall back into the way things were. There is a readjustment period. There is no knowing what your partner has been through or seen, and he may not be ready to just fall back into ordinary life. It can take some time to reconnect.
You really don’t want to fight when you’re together
Your time together is so precious that you really don’t want a fight to ruin it. For that reason, you’ll often bite your tongue if you’re upset about something, but that always winds up biting you in the butt—you can’t suppress your feelings forever.
You want every second with him when he’s back
When your partner comes home, you go MIA on your friends. You want to soak up every second with your partner. You’re not going to go on a three-day weekend with your girlfriends when your partner is home. You hardly want to go out for a girls’ night when he’s home.
You have no idea what your partner is talking about
You often feel totally lost when your partner tells you about his day. You have to stop him at every other sentence so he can explain some term or jargon he just used. He certainly doesn’t tell you any stories to which you can relate.
And you can’t really help—just listen
Even if you do know all the jargon and understand your partner’s stories, you really can’t offer any solutions when he’s had a bad day. A bad day in the military is no ordinary bad day. All you can do is listen.
Your problems feel minuscule
You feel pretty silly complaining about traffic or the new rude barista at your favorite coffee shop when your partner hasn’t had good coffee in months and would be grateful to drive something other than a military vehicle—traffic and all.
You’re a little bit afraid, every day
If your partner is stationed somewhere, you live every day with the fear that he’ll be deployed. You sometimes have mini panic attacks where you realize, “How am I sitting here, feeling so calm, when his life could be at risk at a moment’s notice?” But you have no choice but to be calm—for him and for yourself.
You miss him so much it hurts
Sometimes you miss him so much it hurts. You miss him to a degree you didn’t know the human body was capable of. Sometimes it really feels like missing him could kill you.
You count the days you’re apart, rather than enjoy them
You do the best you can to enjoy and be present in the days you’re apart, but the truth is, those days are just numbers on a calendar. In the back of your mind, your friend’s birthday party is also 35 days until you get to see your partner again.
His job can rule your life
If you’re married, your partner’s job in the military can rule your life. You’ll have to relocate for him, find a new job, and make new friends on a regular basis. He’ll be the only constant in your life, but at the same time, he’ll barely be a constant because he could be sent away.