Military Marriage

8 Things We Wish Our Servicemembers Knew

Loud thoughts are a trademark of silent lips.

Why can’t we just say what/how we feel?

Why can’t honest communication be as easy as ordering a pizza over the phone?

Words are just words after all.

Yet we ALL know that as individuals living a military influenced lifestyle, that words are far more than just spoken phrases and sentiments.

Some subjects are difficult to talk about. Some feelings are hard to express without offending or labeling oneself as a “martyr,” or even worse terms.

Let’s prompt a brave conversation and enter a realm of complete honesty for a moment, free of labels and stereotypes.

Here are a few things we really wish our service members knew.

1. You’ve changed, and that’s OK.

We’ve been fed this completely unrealistic idea that our core characteristics SHOULD go unchanged throughout courtship and marriage.

This mindset is a fantasy.

We send you to boot camp where humility is taught/forced. We send you to war where violent and horrific scenes or even the “lack of,” are happening in real time and altering the humanistic truths that seemed so concrete prior to war related observations.

These experiences change you even if the change is ever so small.

We want you to realize that as you change, so do we. Change is OK.

Our ability to approach the change we see in one another may not be countered with grace at times. Please be patient with us as we change and we will strive to be patient with you.

Most importantly, let us strive to embrace change and grow together.

2. Sometimes we feel a little insignificant.

From the very beginning, we’ve heard and practiced the “mission first,” mentality.

We get it.

Your profession is not equivalent to that of the average breadwinner. We understand that our frustration with your work schedule, duties and requirements is frustrating.

Sometimes we just need you to validate OUR role.

We don’t need a medal, a party, or even a bouquet of flowers.

We just need you to try and understand that often times we feel overlooked, which often prompts us to feel a sense of loneliness.

3. Sometimes you leave before you go.

Often times before you deploy, leave on long TDYs or depart of lengthy missions, you emotionally distance yourself from us before you actually physically leave.

We notice, and sometimes we let our feelings get hurt because we think you would rather be “over there,” than with us.

With this is mind, we build walls that distance us from you so that our breaking hearts are salvaged with a little dignity.

The truth is… we wish we could just say, “BE HERE WHILE YOU ARE STILL HERE!” but deep down we know that your emotions are complicated and riddled with unknowns just like ours.

4. We wish we could better understand you.

Most of us have never walked in your shoes, seen the things you’ve seen, or even known the things you’ve known.

We know that because of this talking to us about your troubles, questions and life in general can seem completely unproductive at times. 

Please know that we wish we had the knowledge that could solve all of your problems and offer even a hint of advice. Our hearts hurt when you hurt. We want you to feel understood and we realize that sometimes we can’t give you that clarity. Despite our lack of similar experiences we are willing to be a listening outlet, validate your feelings and even seek outside help with you.

5. We need help.

We acknowledge the we are often perceived as expert multitaskers, managers, leaders and helpers.

Yet, sometimes we get so caught up in fulfilling these roles that we become completely overwhelmed.

Our pride, and sometimes even our lack of self worth, makes it difficult for us to ask for help. Mere onlookers praise us for “having it all together,” but the truth is that most of the time we are BARELY treading water.

We need you to remind us that it’s OK to be vulnerable, and that there is no shame in needing assistance.

We need you to help even when we don’t ask.

We need reassurance that we are not required to do hard things alone.

6. Navigating the whole “career” thing is hard.

We are in the middle so many different conversations that in short tell us: “You don’t need to give up your dreams for your partner’s… follow your aspirations at all costs.”

Or there’s the, “There is nobility found in sacrificing your dreams for someone else’s,” notion.

Finally we have the, “Learn a new skill that can coincide with your partner’s career,” mentality.

So, which is it?

Do we sacrifice our careers and assist you in achieving yours?

Do we do whatever it takes to do what we want to do and be what we want to be?

Or do we simply explore other options?

Unfortunately and fortunately at the same time there is no “one size fits all” answer.

We need your help and your SUPPORT in making the best decision that will enable our relationship to thrive and provide a sense of personal as well as collective fulfillment.

7. We get jealous.

Some of us choose to put your career aspirations ahead of our own.

We aren’t being martyrs or “dependas;” we simply chose a route that we determined would prove to be the most beneficial to our relationship.

Though we consciously made this choice, we might become envious of your accomplishments and opportunities.

Sometimes your accolades can prompt the ugly, “should haves, would haves and could haves,” to the center stage of our thoughts for a period of time.

We realize that your career is not a “cakewalk,” and we certainly don’t want you to fail.

Please just understand that though we are fully aware and appreciate the sacrifices you make, that our sacrifices prompt a range of emotions and seemingly a lot less fanfare.

Sometimes this path of quietly observing is tougher to travel than we would like to admit.

8. We love you. We support you. We are here for you.

This military life is complicated. Sometimes we can’t say all the things we wish we could say to each other.

This silence is not a token of stubbornness or apathy, but rather these words are often left unspoken, because we fear they might be misunderstood, or worse, they could damage or hurt you.

We love you.

We applaud your willingness to do what so many others do not do.

We recognize that your role and job are void of ease.

We are here for you.

We do a hard job, because you do a difficult job.

We realize that difficult tasks provoke great rewards and we believe that our love and devotion to one another is classified as one the greatest rewards we can hope to reap.

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