Photo credit: Corrine Turner Photography

I don’t have to tell YOU all of the differences between civilian couples and military couples. There have been countless studies, blogs, and news articles written on the subject. Many of them are total myths! Some of these differences are just plain CRAZY though!

Moving around a lot, dealing with deployments, and trying to find a new job every few years are aspects of our lives that many of us are already painfully aware of.  Let’s take a look at some of the CRAZY (yet true) inner-workings of military marriage.

What aspects of Mil-Marriage do YOU think are CRAZY (but true!)? Go back to the post here and give your opinion!

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1. The Military ALWAYS Comes First

They all raise their right hands and solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. They all sign their names on the dotted line of that blank check for the amount of up to (and/or including) their lives. THIS is their first priority. THIS is their promise. They all commit to putting America at the top of the list and their duty to our country comes first and foremost ALWAYS.

It’s CRAZY that our marriages don’t come first. It is a sacrifice as a couple that we are all aware of, whether we acknowledge this or not. Many times, we just know it to be a ‘given’. HOWEVER, just because our country comes first, doesn’t mean that our marriage comes last.

2. Planning? HA!

Most of us learn early on that we cannot surprise our service members with a impromptu weekend getaway, even when we plan it months in advance, the chances of us having to fly solo (almost literally sometimes!) are HUGE. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to cancel plans for mini-vacations or outings because of duty or a short fused TAD/TDY trip. I eventually learned that if we wanted to do something like this, I had to be prepared to go it alone or develop some serious contingency plans.

It’s CRAZY that we can’t even plan a night out sometimes without it becoming a matter of national security! However, once I decided to just roll with it, it made my Marine happy to know that I wasn’t putting my life on hold anymore. He felt much less guilty for having to skip out of the family fun. One thing is for sure though….we always purchase trip insurance now!

3. PDA’s? Not So Fast…

Let’s say you’re at a military ceremony and your service member looks particularly striking in their dress uniform. You are overcome by this need to grab them up and give them a great big smooch. Unfortunately, we can’t just make out with our service member on demand wherever we want anymore. Even holding hands can be considered over-kill at times due to uniform protocol.

Just before my husband graduated from boot camp, I received a letter from him detailing said protocol. He was attempting to explain what was and was not acceptable in terms of affection when we were to see him on family day. I’m sorry….WHAT?

It’s just plain CRAZY! I haven’t seen the love of my life in months, and you’re telling me that we can’t even hold HANDS? I didn’t get it then, but we live and learn, right? Trust me friends…we aren’t the only ones who despise this rule. Our service members are equally as frustrated!

4. The Wedding

Most people get to plan their weddings meticulously and make sure everyone’s schedules align. “It will be perfect” we say, “with roses, and sun and all of our friends and family”! Orrrr, we’ll just go ahead and get hitched at the courthouse and ‘plan’ to have a ‘real wedding’ at a later time (see #2). Oh, and did I mention that the majority of the prep typically lies on our shoulders?

It’s CRAZY, because who would have thought that one of the biggest events of our lives would be contingent upon the needs of military? (See #1). It doesn’t always work out this way, but it does more often than not. My Marine and I got married at the Justice of the Peace during Labor Day weekend in 1999. Our Honeymoon? 3 Days in Vegas in 2009. Our ‘ real ceremony’? An ‘I Do Take 2’ vow renewal in 2011.

Anyone else’s nuptials occur during a 96?

5. Too Much ‘Togetherness’

This should not be confused with having ‘Too Much Time‘ together. There is a distinction. You see, after months and months of living separate lives during a deployment or Geo-Baching, many of us tend to adapt to a certain dynamic in our routines. We become accustomed to doing things our way and on our own timeline. We are so excited when our service members come home, as are they! But as the saying goes, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. By the end of post-deployment leave, both of us are thinking, “Is it time to go back to work yet?”

It’s CRAZY that we want to be apart again! Well, that’s what most civilian couples might think. We spend all this time preparing for them to come home and they spend all this time dreaming of holding us in their arms and getting back to ‘normal’ (whatever the heck THAT is) again. Why wouldn’t we want to soak up every second? Well, we DO! But reintegration is no joke. The deployment isn’t over after Homecoming. We BOTH need time to adjust. Change is rampant in this lifestyle…but it can still be overwhelming. Even the good stuff!

6. ‘Home’ is Relative

Whether it’s a 2 bedroom townhouse with the typical white walls on base or a much larger abode off post, home is where our service member is. And vice versa!

It’s CRAZY because sometimes we have no choice but to be nomads in transient lodging (sometimes for months on end) or living in ‘not so pretty’ quarters. But while we don’t get to ‘choose’ what kind of housing we live in or what kind of wall space we are afforded, we do get to choose how we live within those walls. For me? Home is where my Marine is. 

7. We All Fear Those Orders

At one point or another, we all worry about our service member in harm’s way. At any moment, Any ONE of our spouses could be called to deploy. No matter what duty station you are at, what occupational specialty they have or what capacity they serve in, they all signed on the same dotted line (see #1). We ALL worry about them in this regard. And if we flip the script, they worry about us too. Aside from having a family care plan, our only safety net from fear is faith in one another.

It’s CRAZY that we have to have ‘the talk’ about wills and power of attorney’s and last wishes on a regular basis (some more than others). It can be daunting, morbid and scary. But these plans are necessary. This is probably the one and only time that we pray that we do NOT get to execute any plans that were made.

8. Google Translator for Mil-Speak?

We have all experienced a foreign language coming out of our service member’s mouths. It’s not the bathroom, it’s the ‘head’. It’s not the floor, it’s the ‘deck’. It’s not ‘cleaning your room’ it’s ‘policing your area’. I have had numerous conversations with my husband where I just smile and nod while these unintelligible acronyms and phrases come pouring out of his face. In an effort to stay in the loop, I used to just take to Google after our conversations. 😉

It’s CRAZY. Who would have thought that we would need a translator at some point, just to find out when they were coming home for dinner? “Well, I probably won’t be home till O’Dark-Thirty because some ‘boot’ decided he would miss ‘muster’ after ‘chow’ and now we all have ‘police call’ till ‘Top’ says otherwise.” (Say what?)

9. A Family Divided

In a perfect world, we could plan to, save for, and go on a family vacation to Disney just by using our vacation time from work.

In a perfect world, if we wanted to see our extended families or drop the kids off for a weekend with the ‘Grands’, we drive a few miles down the road and call it a day. In military life, that isn’t really an option.

It’s CRAZY that we really can’t do BOTH of these with any ease at all. Often we are forced to use our vacation time (i.e. Leave time) to visit our extended family. It’s CRAZY, the amount of guilt we have when we choose to put our own personal family vacation over going ‘back home’. We shouldn’t feel guilty, but we often do. It’s also CRAZY that we can go months (sometimes YEARS) without seeing our extended families. And what happens when our families live in different states? Oh, the scheduling nightmare THAT can be.

10. The Power Couple Identity

The dynamics of our marriage will shift with every life changing event, just as they will in a civilian marriage. Having children, getting promotions, and having new career endeavors are changes that every couple will experience. Add in Deployments, PCS, TDY or Geo-Baching and our marriages will change as often as the seasons do at times.

It’s CRAZY that we can go from the sporty couple who runs together every evening, to that super involved couple that attends every family event, to that stressed out couple who can’t keep their schedules on track to save their lives…ALL IN THE SPAN OF A YEAR!

But as we re-create our marriages over and over again, there is one thing that will stand the test of time: The Power Couple mentality, who’s mantra is “ONE TEAM, ONE FIGHT”.

We may have to put that run off, or skip that family function in order to reconnect over Netflix (ahem). Our marital identity might change, but our commitment to our Power Couple mentality can stay strong if we work at it.

11. A Lifetime of First Times

How many of you had to spend your first anniversary apart? How about the birth of your first child or their subsequent first steps? Graduations, birthdays, holidays…Bar Mitzvahs? The list is endless, I’m certain.

It’s CRAZY that more often than not, these events can only be attended by both of us via the virtual world, if at all. We think to ourselves ‘eh, another day in the life!’ It’s crazy that it almost comes as a pleasant surprise when our service members DO get to physically witness these events. For us, though, it makes those moments all the more sweeter.

These are only a few examples of those aspects of military marriage that not everyone can see looking from the outside in. Not everyone experiences all of these all of the time, and this list is certainly not exhaustive to say the least! So tell us: What aspects of Mil-Marriage do YOU think are CRAZY (but true!)? Go back to the post here and give your opinion!

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