One of my friends from back home text me today wanting advice as her boyfriend dropped the bomb on her that he was planning on joining the Army. She wanted advice on how to handle the situation and I thought, what better way than dedicating a blog entry to her. So here it goes!
When I met F he had just joined the Air Force two months prior. However, his orders were to finish school so, for the first 9 months of our relationship, he was just like any other college student. We went to different schools but we saw each other all the time and were apart, at most, maybe a week or so at a time. When it came time for F to go to OTS (Officer Training School), I was terrified. I had heard training was a place where relationships either became real strong or fell apart. I was worried we'd fall apart. I was worried that I would be heartbroken and lonely the whole time, crying nightly. I was worried about how often I would or wouldn't hear from him. More than anything, as we were engaged by that point, I was nervous about what my future life was going to be like when he became full active duty. I felt so many emotions in the days leading up to his departure. The night before we stayed up together all night and I'm pretty sure I was seconds away from being sick due to my stomach doing so many tricks. I held on to him as tight as possible at the airport until we had to say goodbye and then we both bawled until his flight was in the air. Since then he's commissioned, PCSed to his first duty station, and has been actively working in the Air Force for a year and a half.
Will I say that being a military wife, or any form of significant other for that matter, is easy? Most definitely not. Being a military wife is hard. You have to be willing to sacrifice a lot. You have to understand that the military will always come before you and you have to learn to live with that. You have to accept that your spouse will be gone a lot and that the military doesn't care if his being gone falls when you're expecting your first child, celebrating an anniversary, etc. It's a difficult life, I can't deny that. However, it's also incredibly worth it. Never in my life have I been so proud of anyone as I was of F the day he commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force. Pinning those bars on his jacket was such an emotional moment. I was so proud of him and so anxious to learn what military life was like. Yes, I had to give up a lot to move around the country with my husband but I wouldn't change it for the world. I am incredibly proud of F and I am incredibly proud to be an Air Force wife.
My advice to my friend is this: understand that it is going to be hard to have him gone. But, focus on you. Take the time he's gone to pamper yourself, go out with friends, etc. Have fun. Set a routine; it will help make the time go by so much faster. Take advantage of whatever communication is allowed, be it Skype, "snail mail", phone calls, etc. And, turn to your friends who have been through it. My Air Force family has been a huge help many times in this lifestyle. Rely on your friends who have been there, they will keep you sane.
As for my followers, if you have any advice for my friend, feel free to leave it as a comment so she can read it. Let her know that we've all been there and can help! While it may be a difficult life, I promise it's one you will be oh so proud of.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
There are stereotypes about almost every type of person in the world. In the military, this is no exception. There are stereotypes about enlisted wives and about officer wives. For those of you who are unaware, F is a 2nd Lieutenant. As an officer's wife, it's amazing how many things people assume about me and sometimes even say to my face. I do a pretty good job of keeping quiet but maybe I should make a few things clear.
For starters, my husband and I do not think we are better than anyone. I have actually had people say they won't hang out with me because "I probably think I'm better than them". If I truly thought I was better than someone, I would most likely stay away from that person. If I am talking to you and looking to hang out, I think of you as an equal, not a lesser, person. Don't assume what I think unless you know it's a fact. The only reason my husband is an officer is because he has a college degree and went through a program to get commissioned.
Just last week we went to a retirement ceremony for a Chief Master Sergeant who has a Masters. Sure, he's enlisted but there's no way my husband or I would think we're better than him. He's a very educated man with 32 years of military service who chose to be enlisted because he likes his job. F chose to be an officer for the simple fact that it paid better, not because he thinks he's better than anyone else. As for me, I have no rank so I don't care what your husband's rank is. As long as you are a good person, you have my kindness.
Second, while it's true that my husband makes more because he's an officer, this does not mean we are living on a pile of cash. To be perfectly honest, it's quite the opposite. We are good friends with a couple here who are at a much lower pay grade than F. However, they have 3 cars (one of which is a sports car) and were looking at buying a house while still paying their rent on the one they're in now because they can't get out of the lease. Obviously this means they are financially in a good place. F and I, on the other hand, each have a car and only use one to save on gas because we can't afford to fill both tanks regularly. Essentially, we live paycheck to paycheck. We have thousands of dollars worth of student loans to pay off (mostly F's but some are mine too) that make us rather poor. F is almost always stressing over finances and I feel awful when I have to ask for money to pay a bill or get something that's absolutely needed. Just because he wears some shiny bar on his uniform does not mean we are in rich. In fact, I can bet you that there are many enlisted families that have more money than us.
I apologize for this mini rant but I've had a few situations where I've heard "well, it's different for you because you're husband's an officer" and I thought it was time to set the record straight. Yes, my husband is an officer. However, he puts his pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else. He and I are not some special supergods because of his rank. We don't go around informing everyone that's he an officer. We don't think we are better than anyone else. And we most certainly are not rich. In fact, sometimes being an officer's wife is rough because a lot of people don't want to befriend an officer's wife and you often find yourself struggling to make friends. Or people make these assumptions that you're snooty, rich, etc. and it's insulting and upsetting. So, before you assume anything about anyone of any rank, get to know the person...you may be surprised what you learn.
Posted by Kati at 10:21 PM