I have been married to my husband a little less than a year and he is currently part of the US Marine Corps. We dated for about 2 and 1/2 years prior before we wed so I had a some idea what to expect….However, it’s startling how many women (for the most part) who have no idea what they are getting themselves into. So hopefully with this post I might be able to clear the air.

It’s a sad fact today that many of our service members marry for financial stability alone. I can tell you now that money is not worth the emotional and psychological tension that this job or career will and does create. Plus, the divorce rate is even higher due to these circumstances. Or maybe they have a misguided idea of what military life is truly like…. It takes a special kind of person to do this kind of job, and it takes an extra special spouse/significant other to go along with the wild ride. So if you are in it for the long haul and can be patient and understanding of how the system works you should be golden.

Deployments
Your first deployment you will be a complete mess…I can tell you that right off the top. You will not be able to communicate nearly as often nor as long as you would like or be used to. I have heard of many new wives getting upset with their new husbands because they don’t hear from them enough… As sad as this is in this day and age of instant forms of communication the military side is lacking (and for very good reason)…. Sometimes the service member may be out in the field without being within miles of electricity let alone a cell phone nor computer. And sometimes the lack of communication is simply to keep our service members safe. So keep your cell phone on you at all times and expect the calls and emails to come at random times. Usually the service member will be on the other side of the world so the time changes are drastic. Hello 3:30am phone call!

Care Packages
Care packages are a must! Many services members go through deployments receiving only a few items and letters from friends and family. And sadly…there are some who receive nothing at all. (You can always go to your church, community center, or a local grocery and organize a care package drive—it will mean more than you could ever imagine to those who are deployed) So if you can afford it I would send a card, letter, or a package at least once a month. It’s great that they are getting to see the world but receiving a little bit of home while you are away is comforting. Most items that are highly appreciated will appear rather boring to the average person. Razors, special shaving cream, foot care products, favorite magazines, beef jerky and candy are among the most popular items. If you are gonna send candy I recommend you do not send chocolate nor anything perishable. These packages sometimes can take a month + to get to your loved ones! Also make it special and thoughtful–creativity is the key! Here are a few ideas:

Deployment countdown calendar personalized with pics of friends and family

Make your own card from scratch with basic construction paper or for the more crafty with stamps and fun cut outs.

Create a theme based care package: movie night (popcorn, favorite or new dvd, candy etc) spa (lotions, foot scrubs, body soap etc) or holiday related

Survival Skills:
In order to get through a deployment I would highly suggest a few things. First, keep yourself as busy as possible. Life shouldn’t stop and revolve around the fact that your loved one is away. The more you think about it the longer and more emotional stress you will put yourself through. Not exactly great for you let alone your loved one who is deployed. Continue or go back to school even for summer courses! Or/and you could get a job or even pick up a second job or find a hobby that you absolutely love. A good network of friends and family is most helpful as well.

On Base vs. City Dwelling
Where you live will truly make a difference. I currently reside off base and absolutely love it. However, there are many perks about living on base though as well. You will have a great network of people who are experiencing exactly what you will be going through. This is helpful cause you will have people who can relate to what is going on within the military lifestyle. Also you will be able to have access to PAX and the Commissary ( for those of you who are not yet familiar with this terminology the PAX is a store that usually sells clothing, electronics, etc at a discounted price and a Commissary is the grocery store–both of which are tax-free!) However, I believe in order to get these discounts you must be married to a service member. Also there are many beneficial gatherings, meetings, and classes provided on base, all of which are usually free and offer child care services.
       Personally, I enjoy living off base because I find it keeps us both grounded and still part of “civilian” life. My husband is on his second contract so he’s kinda over living the military lifestyle day in day out. Although I feel a little outside of the military community I still get updates and have plenty of opportunities to volunteer and be apart of base activities.

Whatever you decide, just know that the lifestyle does not fit the “norm” and a lot of people will have trouble relating to what is happening around you. We never really know until we are living it. But I am hopeful that with this post it might provide some small idea about what to expect. Be strong, proud, and most importantly patient!

Advertisements