One of the things I get asked quite often as a military spouse is, “how do you do it?” Which, let’s be honest, is kind of a stupid question. How do I do it? I just do. Because I have to. Because I love him. Because I respect him. Because I understand he chose this over being an accountant with a 9-5 job. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck sometimes. But I made a commitment to him as much as he made a commitment to our country.
And that is what makes a good military wife. There are so many articles and websites telling you what makes a good military spouse, or what you shouldn’t do. You know how to be a good military spouse? Love him. Support him. Understand what his job means. That’s it. Just like being any spouse. Now, that last one can be difficult for some people, but that’s why we find mentors, friends, and therapists if we have to. Our spouse’s job is difficult. They are away for months to years at a time. And even within a submarine community, for example, no two guys are going through the same thing. Each job is completely different so you can’t ever, ever, compare them. There is no asking your husband why he has to stay late when Laura’s husband gets to be home at five everyday. This is what I mean about understanding what his job is.
But don’t listen to those horrible spouse bashing websites that tell you not to wear an “I love my sailor” shirt, or that you shouldn’t have a keychain with his unit’s numbers on it. These websites always pull out the same counter argument as well – “would you wear an I love my McDonald’s server shirt? Or take pictures wearing his janitor’s uniform? Then why do it just cause he is a soldier?” It is stupid. No matter what job your spouse has, I’m sure you are proud of him. But you know what? There are a few uniforms out there that someone’s spouse could die in, and military is one of them. That is why I may take the picture of my dog in his hat, or why I understand people wanting sexy shots in his uniform. The uniform means something. It isn’t just what he has to wear each day. It symbolizes a love of country. It symbolizes a willingness to die for people he has never met. That is he risk he chose to take. That is a risk I chose to take when I married him. Because I love him. And because I am proud of him.
You know what makes you a good military spouse? Being a good spouse. Don’t ever listen to someone tell you how you should be as a spouse, or how you should be allowed to show your pride. Now, this doesn’t mean you can go wild and end up naked playing the bongos at the Admiral’s Christmas party. (And before you ask, no, not the voice of experience.) Being a military spouse does require a certain level of decorum and respect that not many other jobs require because we are a reflection of our spouse. Husbands’ careers have been ruined by their spouses’ behavior – posting certain inappropriate things on Facebook, unrestrained alcoholism, trying to go over their spouse’s commanding officer to get special treatment, and constantly calling and claiming they need their spouse home right then for something unnecessary. These things happen and it does negatively impact the husband’s career so it is important to be aware of that. Don’t get super trashed at every Sub Ball, or wear completely inappropriate clothing to a homecoming or a CO’s house. Being a military spouse does mean maintaining a certain level of self-control.
But it also requires a certain level of pride. Or else you wouldn’t make it through the six month deployments, the missed holidays, the last minute changes to vacation plans. So you love your spouse. You be proud of him. And you show that however you want. Being a military spouse can be hard. But I am so happy it makes up a large portion of my corner of the sky.