photos: Jessica McGehee
My husband has now been in the military for a little over three years. When he first told me he was signing up for bootcamp, my brain was flooded with romantic notions about a big, beautiful house, long love letters and living in exotic places across the world.
Boy, did I get a reality check.
Instead of going to Spain or Hawaii, we got Norfolk, Va. (so much for that dream sheet, right?), and rather than a luxurious house with a two-car garage, our humble abode had cockroaches greeting us on move-in day.
Of course, we made it work, and as many newlyweds discover, little mattered other than our excitement of being husband and wife. Unfortunately, there are there are many more troubling–and less humorous–myths about the typical military couple that need to be debunked.
Here are 20 myths that still plague us as spouses:
1. Everyone cheats in military marriages.
Does cheating happen in the military? Of course. Does cheating happen more than in civilian relationships? Not necessarily. However, due to the tight-knit nature of the military community, gossip spreads fast, leading people to believe one incident of cheating speaks for every military marriage.
2. Military couples never see one another.
Although many military couples do deal with frustrating schedules and little time together at home, this is not the experience of all military marriages. In fact, depending on the job of the service member, they may have a less demanding schedule than their civilian spouse.Plus, we make up for the long-distance relationship with strong communication via phone calls, emails and letters.
3. Every military couple has a dozen kids.
Many of my friends with partners in the military have no interest in having children, just the same as many of my friends with civilian partners don’t want kids. Bottom line: It’s the couple’s choice, so let’s all stop pressuring each other to reproduce.
4. Military spouses rely completely on their partners.
Military spouses are some of the strongest, most independent people out there. We move with little to no notice, have to find new support networks everywhere we go, take care of our families when our partners are deployed, and always find a way to make it work.
5. All military couples get to travel the world.
Not all of us move from country to country, or even to multiple states. Some couples stick in one duty station throughout their entire time in the military, and others may never even leave the comfort of their home state.
6. Military couples have a ton of money.
My husband and I broke down how much he would make if he were an hourly employee, and it came to somewhere around $3 per hour, so no, not all military couples are bringing in the big bucks. Yes, there are certainly some benefits, but just like civilian couples, many military couples have to stick to a tight budget to pay the bills.
7. All military spouses are women.
Can we start acknowledging that (1) there are women who serve our country and (2) there are some pretty awesome male military spouses out there? Please?
8. All military couples are straight.
It’s 2017. Time to let go of the idea that all relationships look the same. We have gay, bisexual, transgender and many, many other types of service members, and they all now have the right to serve our country with the support of their partner(s) by their side.
9. Military spouses always have a close community to help when their partners are gone.
Not all military spouses make friends quickly, and not all military bases make it easy to form a network of friends. Let’s remember our military spouses who may be introverts, or a little bit shy. Letting go of this myth may even encourage more of us outgoing spouses to reach out to those who might need a little push to connect with others.