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This Friday, I wanted to share a bit about a day that is special to my heart. No, not my 3-year dating anniversary with Andy… although that also happens to be today 😉 My military-related followers know today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. For those of you who aren’t aware of what Military Spouse Appreciation Day is, it’s the Friday before Mother’s Day that is meant to recognize the contributions, support, and sacrifices of military spouses. Our servicemembers wear the uniform, but we keep things running smoothly on the homefront and also make sacrifices for the military.
My husband, Andy, is an active-duty Army soldier and just celebrated his 6-year “Army-versary” at the beginning of this month. He was previously stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana and Fort Knox, Kentucky, and has deployed to Afghanistan and Romania. We met online while he was stationed at Fort Polk while I was living in my home state of Kentucky. He PCSed to Fort Knox a few months later, and we were married the year after that. (Talk about a whirlwind! But when you know, you know!) Right now, we are on a temporary (3 year) Recruiting assignment that sent us to rural northern Iowa. Living far away from all things Army while still being an active-duty family is certainly a unique experience; I feel like I have my foot in two different worlds, but don’t quite fit into either one if that makes sense. In a little over 2 years when this assignment is complete, we will be returning to the “regular Army” lifestyle as Andy will return to being an Army Engineer. Not that I’m counting or anything 😉
Just a few years ago, I was a new military girlfriend, texting Jen with a thousand questions, and now I’m sharing my advice with Tony’s girlfriend, Katelyn. I’m far from a “seasoned” spouse, but it’s been interesting to realize how much I have grown in the past 3 years. This post was inspired by a few different conversations with Katelyn 😉
It’s okay to have mixed feelings about military life.
One of the most difficult things for me about military life is sharing my various thoughts and feelings about things and being put down for them. It stings when people that don’t understand military life say things like, “Well, you knew what you were getting into,” or “You chose this life.” Yes, technically I did know what I was getting into when I married my husband, as he was a soldier when we met, but I’m still a person with feelings! Fellow milspouse: It’s okay to feel your feelings! However, I have to balance feeling my emotions without letting them consume my life. I heard someone say once that with certain situations in military life, you experience the five stages of grief; you may be sad or angry, but eventually, your feelings will turn into acceptance. I don’t love all of the things about being a military spouse, which is to be expected (just like anything else in life.)
You’re not going to love every assignment and duty station.
Following up on my last sentence about not loving everything the military sends us, this includes duty stations and job assignments. Our last assignment was at a location we loved (aka my home state), and my husband’s job was practically a 9-5. This assignment? Um, not so much. What keeps me going when I’m struggling is knowing that our time here is temporary. On the flip side, even the ideal assignments and duty stations aren’t forever. As my Papaw used to say, all good things must come to an end.
Build your relationship with your spouse.
My husband and I always joke that he has somewhere between 3 and 14 years left in the Army. Sometimes we think he’ll serve until retirement and sometimes we think he may get out in a few years. At this point, we have no idea! Even if he did serve until retirement, a 20-year career nothing in comparison to a 50+ year marriage. The Army can’t be the center of our marriage, because, at some point, he will hang up his uniform for the last time.
There is nothing that compares to the pride of seeing your soldier in uniform.
Ever since he was a child, Andy has always wanted to be a soldier. His big brother’s injuries during a deployment to Iraq while Andy was a teenager further intensified his desire to serve our country. So much of his personality is entwined with his role as a soldier. As his wife, I get to stand beside him as he lives out his dreams. I am the one who pins on his new rank at his promotion ceremony and receives a certificate of appreciation at his re-enlistment ceremony. More important than living out his childhood dreams, my husband supports and defends our country and would lay his life down to protect our freedoms. Military life is certainly not an easy life, but being married to my love is worth all of the challenges.
To my fellow military spouses, I hope you all have a wonderful day today! Your sacrifices are important and you matter.