Written By: Audrey Smith, Navy Spouse
As a Navy wife, there’s been a few instances when another woman has asked me what it’s like to live this lifestyle. In those moments, I’ve taken a pause before answering. I could brush off my Pollyanna speech and tell her how wonderful it is. After all, we’ve seen and lived in places that I had only dreamt of. On the flip side, I know that I should be honest despite how cynical I’ll sound.
The truth is, there’s going to be a lot of good—and a lot of bad. I guess that’s how it works though. If you happen to be this spouse and your partner’s been eying the recruiting station, this is for you.
Very recently, a young woman came to our spouse’s Facebook group to ask us for the pros and cons of joining the military. Since then, her question has remained on my mind, especially today after saying goodbye to my husband once more.
There’s a plethora of pros, sure. Unlike the rest of the country, our family hasn’t had to worry about healthcare. At 37 weeks pregnant, I was in a car accident out of state, and I was driven to a nearby hospital in an ambulance. Less than 24 hours later, I delivered our baby there. We didn’t pay a cent. Though I may come across as a “dependa” (for the love of all, quit using that insulting term!). I’m beyond grateful for the house allowance as well. The pièce de résistance? My husband won’t have the enormous burden of paying off student loans like every other millennial will. Oh, and we’ve lived in some rad cities. Hello, San Diego!
Some of you may have the notion that it’s romantic, complete with lengthy love letters and sweet homecomings. With anything and everything however, there’s a few cons. Okay, there’s several cons. I’ve met a seasoned spouse or two who have said that we would eventually adapt to the separation from our husbands and wives. We’re also told that hobbies help during TADs and deployments. To that, my response is this: I contribute for several publications now. I’m our FRG treasurer. I also signed up for a weekly bible study. Knitting is nice, as is playing the piano. Hobbies, I’ve got. What I don’t have is my best friend. If I could “get used to it” I would. Believe me, I would.
It’s also gut-wrenching to watch your children say goodbye to their fathers. When I dropped my husband off at the airport this morning, our toddlers were under the impression that he had to “use the potty.” As I drove away, they begged me to stop the car. Little voices from my backseat yelled “Wait for daddy, mommy! Please stop. Don’t leave daddy!” Right then, with all of my might, I had to keep myself from breaking down. As a parent, you’re supposed to be their guide and who they look to for strength. No. My tears would come much later in the day, after they fell asleep.
Please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying though. For Americans, this is one of the most vital careers possible, and someone has to do it. What I am saying is this: If you’re young and you’re considering this road, be diligent as you look for the right answer. I love the life the military has given us. Remember the pros I previously mentioned? Cliché or not, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would marry my husband again and again and again. I would do it all over again and again and again.
Just have a bit of foresight before you make this big decision.