You have finally met the man of your dreams. He is your soul mate, and you are sure that you would wither away without him. Nothing in this world could possibly crash your fairy tale — except for maybe the fact that he is a soldier. You walk into the relationship understanding that this could mean long separations, long working hours and single-parent activities, but understanding what might be and actually coping with those realities are two different scenarios altogether. So what can you expect your life to be like as a new Army wife? This article is an introduction on some aspects of this life that may come to us civilians as a bit of a culture shock.
Your sweetie’s sergeant. He is not only your honey’s boss, but he is also his daddy. And you really don’t want to make dad angry. Most active duty single soldiers are required to sleep in the barracks, at least until they reach a certain rank or level in the military hierarchy. They technically have a curfew and guests are prohibited after curfew hours, and visits are even frowned upon during curfew hours.
Also, 15 minutes early to an event or work is considered late for a soldier. So if you have to go to an Family Readiness Group (FRG) meeting with your soldier that starts at 6, plan to be there at 5:15 at the latest.
Know that when your sweetie gets in trouble at work, it isn’t your typical trouble. If a soldier gets in trouble as you might guess, it can be very unpleasant depending on the temperament of the Sergeant and whether or not your soldier is on his/her good or bad side. It isn’t uncommon for extra duties to pop up as a punishment, which means less time for the two of you to spend together, so be kind and don’t get him into trouble even if he pretends its no big deal.
Keep in mind that military promotions are very political and become more political the higher up in rank you go, so if your soldier is constantly breaking even the little rules, it looks bad and makes achieving a higher level more difficult.
Acronyms. The second culture shock, and I think this hit me more once we were married and had to go to DEERS and TRICARE, and I had to talk to the FRG to meet his Sgt. to talk about his BAH. My point, despite the lame example, is that there are tons of acronyms. I’m still learning them to be honest and we have been married for almost a year.
Deployment. The third culture shock, and probably the biggest, is deployment. That awful d-word that brings dread to every military spouse out there. I wish that I could tell you that it is easy being an Army wife. Unfortunately, it is one of the most challenging things that I have ever done. However, keep in mind that while it is difficult, you should try to go into it remembering how much you love your soldier, and that the pain of their absence is only so painful because of how great they are. Your love for them, and their love for you makes what you are enduring worth it.
I am currently going through my first deployment now, and so far the worst part of the deployment was the time between finding out that he would be leaving and when he actually left. Tensions were high; we were waiting on edge for him to get the call that he was leaving, and then saying good-bye. The whole day that he left I kept wondering: Where is he? Has he left yet? What will it be like when he gets there? Will I be able to talk to him? It was very intense until our first phone call, which had terrible reception and delayed sound. But on the other end of that bad reception was the delayed sound of his voice and I knew that he was still out there, still the man I loved and that things would be okay.
Life as an Army wife is nothing like what you see on TV. For one, while the FRG does a lot for families and deployed soldiers, their role is not personal at all. It’s more of a trouble-shooting kind of organization. Also, becoming involved in the FRG, at least where I am, is not really feasible for working wives. I work full-time and a lot of the required trainings for volunteer jobs are offered in the middle of the week and in the middle of the day, which was a bit of a disappointment for me.
While there are a lot of negative things about being married to a soldier, just keep in mind that even though you have to give him up for a while, when he comes home to you, it will all be worth it. It is a test of true love and a chance for both of you to grow and learn about yourselves in a positive way.