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Guest Blogger: 10 Ways Being a MilSpouse is Like Skydiving For the First Time

Guest Blogger: Jill Pohl

Guest Blogger: Jill Pohl Milspouse Life

10 Ways Being a MilSpouse is Like Skydiving For the First Time

Jill Pohl

The first time I went skydiving was on my 27th birthday. I was young, not sure what I had gotten myself into, and simultaneously excited and nervous. Sounds like getting married to a military man, right? Looking back, that day was filled with so many emotions and experiences, that I can’t help but see the similarities between that 7 hour period and the 5 years (so far) I have been married to my Air Force husband:

1) Everyone else who has already done it has advice for you, but you know that no amount of advice can fully prepare you.

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People always have something to say about marriage. You may have heard something truly inspirational, and retained it. You may have heard something truly inspirational, and forgotten it. Either way, people love to provide unsolicited advice, and whether its good or not, made you upset or made you excited, you took it all with a grain of salt. No marriage is alike, and as much as people try to categorize and stereotype military marriages, they are particularly dissimilar. We all move to different places, respond uniquely to military challenges, and interact differently with our service members. That’s what makes military marriage such an adventure.

2) People keep asking you if you’re scared.

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All the way up to the day I left to jump, people asked me this question. Every time I talk about my husband deploying, people ask me this question. It doesn’t help anything. It just makes you think, “Well I wasn’t. But now, should I be?” This won’t change the fact that we will all probably hear it all our lives.

3) You’ve got a lot of equipment, and you’re not sure you know what to do with it.

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As military spouses, we try and try to prepare. We equip our families mentally and physically: we make sure our spouses have their uniforms ready to go and all the equipment they need (even though we don’t always know what it does). We give them pep talks just as much as they give us pep talks. But oftentimes, none of us really know if there’s weight behind our words. Will it really “all be okay?” Are you really going to feel “just fine?” Maybe not. But we prepare, we say what we need to say to provide encouragement, and that’s all we can do. Even if we don’t fully know what’s going on and if we have everything we need for the next adventure, we just keep truckin’ on.

4) There’s a seemingly endless amount of “hurry up and wait.”

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“Hurry up and wait” is also practically a military motto. We’ve all heard our service member say it to describe a day at work. We’ve all felt it when making calls to Tricare, finding out about an impending PCS move, or trying to move any kind of paperwork through the bureaucracy on base. It’s part of our lives.

5) Right before you take the jump, you realize that you have no idea why you decided to do it.

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After discussing so many times with my service member what military life would ask of us, I truly did wonder, why was I still doing this? It was love, of course, but couldn’t I have fallen in love with someone whose life was a little less, well, unsettled? Why did I even let myself fall in love with someone whose career asked so much of us both? Why did I think it would all be okay, when it has already been so hard? We’ve all asked ourselves these questions, especially in the hardest moments. And even though we know the answer, it doesn’t mean we don’t still ask.

6) As you get ready to go, someone tells you you’re jumping out of the plane doing a barrel roll, or throws some other kind of curveball.

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We all know that we can plan all we want and something still will go against all of our prep work. You think your spouse is going to deploy in August, and all of a sudden you find out that something got messed up with the paperwork, and he’ll have to go later. You’d already been prepared. Or you find out you’re pregnant, and your spouse is going to Squadron Officer School right around your due date. It’s the military. It happens.

7) Sitting in your partner’s lap, you realize how important they are to you. Your lives are in one another’s hands.

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With your military spouse, you go through so much together, how could you not value one another so tremendously? Maybe you’ve only been married for 5 years, like myself, but so much has happened that you are even closer than most longer-married couples.

8) By the time the parachute deploys, you think you’ve gotten through the worst of it. Then you throw up.

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Okay, so my military marriage has never made me throw up. But that parachute deploying, that moment of relief, comes in any military marriage, multiple times. Your service member is back from deployment, or a very long stint at a training program. Finally, he’s home and you have a partner again.

Until you realize that it’s not all better. He’s tired, and not in a great mood. You both aren’t used to having each other around. You argue over small things. You’ll get back into the groove, but let’s be honest, it takes a while.

9) There’s a free fall that feels like it will never end. When the free fall does end, you realize it wasn’t so bad.

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As a milspouse, deployments, moves, finding a new job or new school, all feel daunting. When you come out on the other side, you realize it usually (though there are always exceptions) wasn’t as awful as you’d expected. Sometimes the anticipation really is worse.

10) You may not land on your feet, but you land, your partner’s with you, and you both have huge smiles on your faces as you high-five one another.

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Do I need to explain this one? It feels great to jump. And it feels great to be married to someone who you take big risks with all the time, because at the end of the day, you’re together and you’re happy.

Citation:

“Lemons” photo credit: Alyssa & Colin via photopin cc
“Scared” photo credit: Christopher Cotrell
“In the waiting line” photo credit: fly
“Don’t Panic Don’t Panic” photo credit: Barbara Abate
“Emma looks surprised” photo credit: the Jbird
“Trust” photo credit: purplejavatroll
“Dizzy” photo credit: THX0477
“Helena (#90268)” photo credit: Mark J. Sebastian

Realities of Memorial Day

Watch in the dead of night

Watch in the dead of night


There seems to be a little bit of an oxymoron when you say Happy Memorial Day. What’s so happy about it? I know it’s a huge day of camping and bbq-ing and spending some much needed time with our families, but do you ever just get fully smacked in the face with what Memorial Day really is? When I was a teenager our church had the amazing opportunity to have the moveable Vietnam Memorial Wall come and set up for a full week. Me, being the young teenager I was saw it as an opportunity to hang out with my friends and do some “volunteer work”. Mostly I wrapped hot dogs in foil and got into a bubble war with a couple other friends washing dishes with me. I did however take the opportunity to talk to some of the veterans and try to see life from their point of view. My family has been military for several generations. My great-grandfather, grandfather (both sides), one of my grandmothers, dad, sister and myself have all served in some branch of the military. Heck, my birthday and my great-grandfathers are over the 4th of July holiday. For this reason alone, I have always felt some pride and patriotism for our country. But seeing those veterans stand in front of that monument was a sight I will never forget. There were grown men broken down in tears over names that meant something to them. There were others seeking counseling for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome who had swore they were no longer affected by it. There were others who had to leave before the 21 gun salute because the sound of fire still caused them to shudder where they stood. There were wives and children, and grandchildren waiting patiently while their loved one sought a final good-bye and hopefully found some closure in this honored memorial.

Sometimes I feel a little callused. My friends will show me stories that are touching about military wives or members of the military. My heart gets sad when I see some of the stories, and yes I had to learn to shut that part of me down at times. If I sit and think of being on a ship, or how my hubby was gone for nine months, or how my sister had to raise her baby alone for nine months, or the family my brother in law had to leave behind, or any of the millions of things my family has done I won’t make it. It’s a fact of life to me. It’s horrible to have family members gone, it’s miserable to spend my time wishing I could talk to my hubby, or we have ____ so many months left. So like many other military wives, I shut down. I turn out the emotions and deal with the day to day. So yes, I feel a little callused. But when the emotions break through, it’s hard to shut them back down.

There are things that will always break through. Watching an elder veteran struggle to stand and salute HIS flag, watching a family meet up for the first time in months/years, and seeing little kids in mini uniforms. Another thing that will always make me cry is the song “Just a Dream” with Carrie Underwood. It came out the year before I got married. When my hubby and I were planning our wedding, we were trying to balance the time with being out to sea for two months at a time, and my ship was scheduled to go out to see for 9 months, his ship leaving before I even got home. We were facing at least a year and a half apart and had to decide, do we get married before or after. Do we love each other enough to make it through a year and a half of barely being able to talk. The first time I heard Just a Dream, I was trying to decide to between wedding dresses. Sitting there listening to that song I broke down. I couldn’t tell you what tomorrow was going to be like. I couldn’t tell you if we were going to be safe overseas, or if I’d even get to see my new husband before the next time one of us was gone again. To know when you say good-bye that it may very well be the last time can be overwhelming sometimes. Thankfully I didn’t end up on my deployment, so it gave us a few more short months to talk, but even then we weren’t living in the same state. I was on my ship in Virginia, he was out in California. It makes me grateful for today. That he has only missed a couple months of our little blue eyes’ life. I’m grateful he isn’t scheduled to leave for our little girl’s birth. I’m happy about the three or four hints I’ve gotten on facebook for cookies tonight…. and I’m grateful we got one more holiday together.

Enjoy your families tonight. Enjoy the time you have and the bbq’s you can plan. Thank you all for your service and your support to those who have served.

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