You know your husband’s job is unlike any other when he has been at training for over a year and he comes home from work to say, “Wait. Do you even know what I do?” Sadly, my answer is usually no. In many conversations, I have to stop him mid-sentence and say, “I have no idea what that means.” My favorite was the time my husband told me “please don’t say that. They are going to laugh at you” when I butchered the name of the plant before my first FRG meeting. I better get my military spouse act together before we move to a real base and I have to engage in advanced military lingo. So from one novice military spouse to another, here are some lessons I’ve learned:
1. Just because an undershirt is navy does not mean it’s the Navy’s navy.
This past Christmas, the hubby and I decided to do stockings for each other since he had always grown up with them. My family never did stocking. Maybe it is because my father is Jewish or because Granny’s house didn’t have a fireplace so Santa had to use the front door. I had no idea what to put in the hubby’s so his mother and I went to the land of possibilities (aka: Walmart) to find random things. The best part about my in-laws is that stocking stuffers do not actually have to fit in the stocking. Since this was our first real Christmas as a military couple I decided I would get my husband a bunch of undershirts and socks for his boots. Did he hit the wife jackpot or what? Anyways, after opening his gift, he shed tears of joy and we never talked about the shirts again… until a few weeks ago when he asked where those shirts came from. Apparently a peer at work made a comment that the color looked weird and the hubby no longer wants to wear the wrong-navy shirts. So, lesson learned. US Navy navy is not Walmart navy. Who knew.
2. Who do you put as your emergency contact?
I feel a little silly when I don’t list my husband as my emergency contact. Instead, I opt for my father (sorry mom, you don’t answer your phone) who lives in Georgia… 1,008 miles away. As I am writing this, I am still going back and forth if I should list my husband. In situations when we are both on land, he would obviously be my first choice. However, what about the times he is deployed and miles under the ocean? A contact 1,008 miles away may be my best bet. This is probably, in my opinion, one of the hardest aspects of being a military spouse – knowing that if something happens while he is deployed, it is all on me to take care of.
3. Don’t go for your military ID without your husband.
My husband left for training one week after we were married which meant I was responsible for getting my military id alone. I had his power of attorney, but it was still the most intimidating processes I have ever completed. Something about talking to a guy much bigger than me with a gun strapped to his leg makes me sweat. As soon as I pulled up to the gate with my drivers license I knew it was going to be a bad day. After explaining to the guard that I needed to get my id, but my sponsor was not present half a dozen times, he finally let me in. Of course I had no idea where I was going and the buildings don’t have obvious names like “ID office”. Finally, I found the office, got my id and left the base feeling relived… until I noticed my DOB was wrong. Uhh! After that day, I vowed I would never do anything military related alone ever again.
4. Secrets, secrets are not fun unless
they are for everyone you are the detailer.
I am the most impatient person you will ever meet. My husband gets mad at me all the time for opening a box of food before we’ve even unloaded the shopping cart. Let me tell you, the military doesn’t care that you really, really want to know where you’re going next. We’ve waited months and months for orders, only to receive them with short notice that we were moving 12 + hours away. We are once again in the waiting game as we have recently put in our “dream sheet” for our next duty station. I really, really want to know where we are going so I can start looking for a place to live, a job … you know, those minor details. However, the reality is that I will probably start packing before we find out where in the world we are going. Exciting? Maybe. Stressful? Definitely.
5. Discuss with your spouse the answer to “where are
you guys y’all from?”
Seems pretty obvious, but it never fails that my husband and I look at each other and then go into the long story… “she is from Georgia, he is from Tennessee, we met in Columbia, lived in Charleston for a little while, then she stayed in Charleston while he lived in Connecticut and now live in Saratoga Springs.” I always laugh to myself when this happens, but always forget to call a family meeting to hammer out a simple answer. Maybe we should say where we first lived together? Maybe it is our last duty station? Gosh, moving so often sure does create problems.
What are some not so obvious lessons you have learned?