When you are a part of the military community you learn quickly to adapt to change. Maybe you got orders to Station A and the day after pack out was scheduled you find out you’re going to Station B instead.
Maybe you planned your wedding around deployments only to have your Super Sailor sent early to replace someone that was injured.
And maybe you signed your enlistment paperwork only to meet your perfect match just months before you are supposed to ship off to boot camp.
That last one, that was me. I had decided it was time to make a change in my life. I was getting out of a bad relationship, I wasn’t as financially stable as I wanted to be, I desperately wanted to go back to college for my teaching certification so I decided the Navy was the best way to for me to achieve my goals. So of course I would meet my amazing husband 3 months before I was set to ship off. Of course I would meet him three weeks before he was about to head 500 miles away from where I lived at the time. Of course we would decide we were crazy enough to get engaged after six weeks and married as soon as I graduated boot camp.
Now for the past three years we have been a dual military couple. A dual military, cross-branched couple. We have never been co-located, which means we have never had the opportunity to live together. We spent 12 months apart because it’s super fun to be on a 9 month deployment and 6 months in find out your husband is about to leave for his own 6 month deployment. It took us nearly 3 years of being together to spend 100 days with each other. And yes, we did celebrate that day with a big date day. Quite a milestone for us so what better way to celebrate than mini-golf in the South Carolina drizzle and then enough crab legs to make us explode!
But now we’re in the final stretch.
In under 9 months we will both be civilians. In under 6 months one of us will be out. We only have 3 more trips scheduled to see each other before we can start using leave for real vacations instead of stay-cations on the base. I can hardly believe there is an end in sight!
Yet now I’m starting to panic. I’m not great with change. I know, I know. I obviously went into the wrong line of work. I’m good when things change at the last minute, but it’s planning for change that stresses me out. My husband going back and forth on if he wanted to get out of reenlist (here’s that story!) was enough to give me grey hair! And then there is my command. They are pushing hard to get me to reconsider leaving the Navy. Everyone from my CO to our Career Counselor has told me what a stand out Sailor I am and how far I could go if I stayed in. When they asked me what it would take for me to change my mind I told them shore duty orders to Rome. (I’m pretty sure that billet doesn’t even exist but hey they asked!)
I’m scared of what it is going to mean to be civilians.
After so long as a dual military couple, I’m terrified of what it’s going to be like to actually live with my husband like a normal couple.
We’ve never spent more than 15 straight days together.
What if he puts the toilet paper on the role backwards or rearranges my dishes? How am I supposed to keep up with the grocery bill to feed him after he’s used to eating all he wants at a chow hall? What’s the timeline on adjusting to having to share space all the time? We didn’t live together before we were married (for multiple reasons) so we really don’t know what it’s going to be like. I keep telling myself it’s going to be a learning curve and we’ve made it through this time apart in dual military marriage just fine so we can tackle anything else as a civilian couple with ease.
I am also nervous about finances. We are finally in a good place financially and now both of us are starting to look for jobs. I am a planner. That means I’ve been looking into companies for a while already and actually have a few leads on jobs that could set us up pretty well for the life we hope to have. My husband is dipping his toes into job searching now himself. It’s scary to think we won’t have the stable, steady paycheck every 1st and 15th. It’s overwhelming to start looking into health care options and life insurance policies that aren’t provided by our employer. Tell me again why we think it’s such a great idea to get out of the military?
Oh yeah. It’s because I love my husband and really want to live with him! And I need to remind myself I was just as scared to date him, to get engaged, and to get married because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. But everything has worked out pretty darn well if I do say so myself. I have been lucky enough to learn how to be very independent yet unafraid of relying on my spouse in stressful times. I have been given the opportunity to fall in love over and over again every time I get to travel and see the handsome man I fell in love with. We had to learn to communicate even when we didn’t like each other because there wasn’t the option of just going in the other room for a bit to cool off. We had to talk things out and figure out solutions.
Sure, being in a dual military marriage and not co-located is stressful. Sure, the idea of walking away from two solid careers to pursue a different path is terrifying. But hey…we are part of the military family and if we learned nothing else in the past few years we know how to adapt and overcome; I know that skill will make the next phase of our life go just a bit more smoothly. Even if household goods does ship our stuff to the wrong city…