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