I know that I cannot be the only one who has heard this. And to be honest, I have heard it one too many times.
It takes all my willpower not to launch a counter assault when I hear the words “well you knew what you signed up for” when I am just making a statement that I miss my husband. Who wouldn’t miss their spouse if he or she was gone 6 to 9 months of every year either from deployments, endless temporary duty assignments (TDYs) or 12 hour work days every single day when he or she is in town?
When people innocently say those playful words, I don’t feel very playful. It feels a little like they are telling me that I brought this on myself in some way, invalidating my longing to have my husband home. I trust in the goodwill of others and honestly believe people are just trying to fill the silence with noise. I just want to say think before you speak because my husband told me how much he was going to be gone, and I chose to love him anyway.
Years ago, he gave me an idea about the amount of time he would be away, but it didn’t seem too much to conquer when we were young and in love … and without kids. Then reality set in.
No one, no matter how much they ‘explain this life,’ can explain how you will feel when the two of you become one, and then half of you is missing at least half of the time. No one can describe how you just wish you would roll over and go to sleep with your spouse instead of watching lame movies just to keep your mind occupied at night. No one can describe what it is like to have children, let alone children who are begging for their daddy. You have to be strong and tell them that you miss him, too, and of course you believe he will return home safely from ‘fighting the bad guys’.
No one can understand this life before she or he has lived it. My husband might have told me he would be gone a lot, but the millions of other factors were unfathomable at that time.
Yet, one thing people also don’t tell you is that no matter how hard it is, you will meet the greatest people. You will make the best friendships on earth, and these friends will see you at your best and at your worst and love you anyways. No matter how alone you feel at times, you are never alone.
When your husband is TDY and you are crawling around with mastitis with a newborn and a 1 year old, some beautiful soul will show up on your doorstep with soup because she just knows that life is too much right now. You will celebrate hails and farewells, promotions, weddings, babies and life together. You will become a family. When you lose someone in the family, every single person will rally together to pray for and support the family of the lost. When someone finds out they have cancer, everyone will gather to figure out how many ways they can take care of that family: meals, babysitting, praying, or simply sitting with them.
You will find your soulmates … and yes, I meant that in the plural.
So, no. I didn’t know what I signed up for when I married this handsome man and gave my life to the U.S. military.
And yes, I gave my life to the military, too.
Would I have it any other way? No way.
Should I be able to say that I miss my husband without people making snarky comments that feel like they are placing blame? Yes!
So please, the next time you want to say something to a spouse whose significant other is TDY or deployed, just say “’I’m sorry, I bet that is hard.”
In truth, it is really hard, but sometimes the most rewarding things in life are the most difficult. Even if I had understood exactly what this life was going to be like before I married my husband, I would “sign up for this” all over again.