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POV Regarding War

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Married to the Army and Learning to Cope

written by Kathleen Harris Causey
on October 06, 2010

Life, it's said, is not about your actions but your reactions. I cannot think of a more appropriate situation to use that mantra in than in the Active Duty military family life. Usually, I like to have all options laid out before me, with appropriate reaction time, so that I can plan accordingly. Any fellow military spouse reading this just laughed at "plan accordingly," because we must be ready to go in any direction, at any time. I'd like to look put-together at all times, too, but that just isn't going happen, now is it?

A friend and Navy wife recently equated military spouses to phoenixes. So often, we're required to reinvent our entire lives to continue living with the one we married. We also go through long, frustrating times of transience to even get to the point of making another home.

For example, I have spent the first six months of my marriage in very small spaces with my husband. While in Germany, we stayed in his small housing because we knew we'd be moving at the end of the summer. Due to the clogged housing situation at our new post, we have spent nearly a month in a hotel room. And I'm lucky it's only a month; another friend spent three months in a hotel off-post with her husband and two dogs. My neighbor in the hotel has a baby who cries at all hours of the night. And while I would rather not have first-hand knowledge of a baby's mood swings at 3 AM, I can still sympathize with the family. This isn't ideal for anyone, and I don't know a lot of people who would choose this — although it doesn't really feel like a choice when the only other alternative is not being with our service member. We're all going to see this through — just don't expect us to smile all of the time.

It is so easy to feel frustrated about my lack of choices. I absolutely chose to marry an Army man, so I accepted everything that comes with this life the day I said, "I do." No one told me, however, about the specifics. For instance, we share a car so if I want to run errands during the day, I have to take the husband to work around 5:30 AM and hope that his schedule won't change and require me to do something last minute. There's a permanent wrench in any plans that I make, and even if a change doesn't happen I am constantly wary of the possibility.

Not only do I and other military spouses deal with constant change, but we also try to maturely handle the feeling of distrust we have toward the military. It seems our entire lives are spent with baited breath, because in the backs of our minds is always that friend who experienced a horrible move, dealt with canceled leave plans, or live in a place they never would have chosen for themselves. And I haven't even touched upon the issues the come with deployments; I have intentionally left those out because they're often shared and discussed. Before the possibility of the next deployment even enters the picture, however, the daily life of a military spouse is full of a constant flow of uncertainty and concern.

I'm in the thick of it right now. It might not seem like a lot to handle, but there are so many unforeseen events I encounter in my life on a daily basis. I get lost on post for 45 minutes, can't seem to get a hold of a moving company to have my household goods delivered, wait patiently for one of three laundry units to become available in a full 111-room hotel, try to have my own plans only to ultimately have them interrupted by the Army's — it just takes one or two things going wrong to ruin an already shaky day. My husband and I are newlyweds, so I've been thrown into this Army spouse life only recently. I thought I was prepared, but every week brings me something else I have never heard of before and must figure out by Friday at 3 PM.

There isn't a magic cure-all. The healthiest thing I do is relate to other military wives, whether it's over lunch or blogging. No one is more compassionate to having to live in a hotel and share a car than an Army wife who has done the exact same thing. And since newlyweds seem to face a lot of common issues, I am lucky to have be near some of my married friends, giving me a whole vault of info from people a few years wiser than myself. As long as I remember to reach out, share and talk with others instead of holing myself up in my room with a bottle of wine and bad reality TV, I believe wholeheartedly that life is going to work out fantastically. There's really not another choice, now is there?

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