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The Murphy's Law of Military Spouses

written by Jennifer See
on September 28, 2010

If there is one thing I've learned through five deployments in six years, it is the Murphy's Law of military spouses: If it's going to happen, it's going to happen during deployment.

Ask any military spouse about the things that happened to her, good or bad, during a deployment, and you better be prepared to pull up a chair. With such long wars and multiple deployments, everyone has a story — or ten — to tell.

One military spouse I know returned home from a two-week visit to her family to a house invaded by mice. And I mean invaded. Her pantry was torn apart, and every inch of the house was covered in mouse droppings, down to her baby's crib. She had to stay in a hotel for a few days while the house was cleaned and the mice were exterminated.

Another military spouse friend who is five months into her husband's year-long deployment had a good friend suddenly pass away. She has been dealing with a funeral and the shocking loss, all without her husband by her side.

My deployment has had its own set of challenges, but luckily for me, nothing on a grand scale. There was a family wedding and a summer road trip, solo. There was the washer that died, and a new one bought in its place. There were the two new tires I needed on my car. There was the pesky yellow algae problem in the pool that I finally got under control, but not before spending an obscene amount on chemicals. There was my daughter's 8th birthday party and the first days of school, events captured in pictures sent via email.

Nothing, thank goodness, is major. We are all (knock wood) healthy. And things, for the most part, are running smoothly.

A friend called me this week and gave me some much-needed deployment perspective. Since her husband left for Iraq last month, his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Her brother-in-law's cancer, once in remission, is back, and with a vengeance. Another family member needs serious heart surgery. She has three kids, two dogs and one house she is caring for solo. We laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation, because, well, what else can you do?

Even with all that is going on, she told me she felt empowered by it all. "Empowered?" I asked, pray tell. She told me she has been forced to deal with things that normally her husband would take care of, like her pool problems and the new computer she had to buy. It made her feel good, she said, to know that she can take care of it all.

Of course, most things are unavoidable and out of our control anyway. Life happens, and, for better or worse, goes on when our spouses are deployed. It just seems like "the worse" happens with greater frequency than "the better." Somehow, when the bad things happen — be it on a grand scale, like a cancer relapse, or a small scale, such as my washer — it seems to be more magnified and that much harder to deal with because at the end of the day, you are dealing with it alone.

We can't pick up the phone and call our spouse. We send an email that may or may not get read by the day's end. In the meantime, we make decisions and hope they are the right ones for our children, our homes, our family members and ourselves. And we wait, because we know that when crisis A is taken care of, B is certainly lurking around the corner.

And we look forward to the day when we can recount, with our spouse sitting safely next to us on the couch, all of the things, good or bad, that we made it through.

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