Today marks the start of our latest endeavor in this military life. This man (also known as my husband) heads to Virginia to continue his career in the Navy, and begin his job as a chief on the USS Montana.
9 years ago, as a young(er), new, inexperienced military spouse, I swore left and right, up and down that this day would never come. That as long as I had a choice, I would never decide to live separately from him. We were both so young and naive, with no children, and few responsibilities other than our respective jobs, nothing could come between us. The only experience I had ever had with the military was the romanticized notions I’d seen in movies.
I was completely unprepared for what our futures held.
He deployed for the first time just one short month from the date we got married, and we were thrust full force into the reality of – and complete utter opposite of romantic – military life. He deployed on a submarine, which unbeknownst to me, meant communication would be scarce if not non-existent for long periods of time. The friends and family I had did their best to support me, but none of them knew any more about submarines or deployments than I did. So much time passed before I received that first email from him that I had convinced myself something happened.
Another deployment into our marriage, and I began to make friends within our military community with some older, (and much wiser) military spouses. I’d hear them talking about deployments as if they weren’t world-ending, gut-wrenching separations. Some I knew even chose to live in a separate state, as their spouses lived in the barracks wherever they were stationed. The thought appalled me. “I’d NEVER choose to live away from my husband” my arrogant younger self pledged. “They must not love their husbands as much as I love mine.” No other explanation made sense to me.
But here we are. 9 years later, countless deployments and underways. And while it never gets easier, we’ve been seasoned. I miss him just as much, if not more, when he’s gone now. We’ve gone through so many ups and downs in our marriage and our careers, and have learned to be – albeit far from perfect – partners. While those first few years together were new, and exciting, and filled with longing when he was gone, and butterflies every time we were reunited, I wouldn’t trade the relationship we have now for all the butterflies in the world.
We’ve learned to tackle life as a team, and right now, that means sacrificing our companionship for the bigger picture. We’ve made the decision to live apart for the next year so we can both pursue our careers, our children can experience the stability of staying in the same school, and we can best manage our multiple properties.
Many disagree with our choice, and I know many other military spouses would disapprove, my younger self most of all. This next year is going to be a challenge in so many ways, for each of us, but we hang dearly to our love for each other and the support of the village we’ve built around us this last decade together.