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6 Taboo Confessions of a Bad Military Spouse

I’ve been a military spouse for five years, and in those five years I’ve come to realize that military life is a confusing roller coaster ride of emotions. Some days, I feel like a good military spouse – I happily complete household chores, I bake a coffee cake for my husband to take to work, and I make appointments and check items off my To Do list faster than The Flash. Other days, I feel like a bad military spouse – I attribute my anger and loneliness to military life; I tell my husband that I can’t wait for him to retire; and the house is a disaster.

Like I said – quite the roller coaster ride.

Lately, I’ve had recurring negative-sounding thoughts about military life. Sometimes, I voice these thoughts to close friends and family, but they feel taboo. Like they’re dirty and I shouldn’t be putting them out there into the universe or something. But those are the things we need to say most, because keeping them inside only feeds the negativity. So I want to share a few of my taboo confessions with you, and hopefully we’ll both feel a little less alone.

Confessions of a Bad Military Spouse

{1. I resent my husband’s career some days.}

I know it’s wrong to think this, let alone type it for others to read. But it’s my truth, and I bet you can relate. To be clear – I do not resent my husband. I love my husband more than I can put into words. However (and we’ve talked about this before), his career causes me stress and anger some days. Our constant moves, the TDYs, and the process of forging new friendships – it all adds up. And the fact that I sometimes resent his job (which I know comes across as unsupportive), makes me feel like a bad military spouse.

{2. I’m tired of hearing, “So, where to next?”}

I understand that people are curious, and it’s a constant topic of conversation since we move a lot. However, it’s like asking your kid, “How was school today?” or your spouse, “Thoughts on dinner?” After a while, you tend to get the same answer.

So when I hear this question, I have my stock answer ready to go: “No idea. There are lots of possibilities, but at this point we just go where they send us.”

Usually the conversation evolves into either, “Why do they move you so often?” or “Any chance you’re moving back this way?” And I have answers ready for those, as well.

{3. The emotional labor is exhausting.}

Military or not, we all experience emotional labor at home – memorizing the school schedule, knowing which foods your kids don’t like this week, remembering family birthdays, meal planning, asking your children and spouse to clean up their belongings – and it’s draining. Being military increases this workload – memorizing new school phone numbers, learning grocery store locations and the best way to get there, constantly putting yourself out there to make new friends, working hard to maintain current friendships from a distance, organizing your new home – it’s never-ending and absolutely exhausting. And it’s an aspect of life that our spouses don’t really experience.

{4. I cry a lot more than I used to.}

Becoming a parent has definitely made me more emotional, but this is in addition to parenthood tears. Every few months, everything builds up and becomes almost unbearable. I miss my family. I miss my friends back home and the friends I’ve made at assignments. The inevitable move to a new city, surrounded by new people, suddenly hits. I miss the stability of civilian life. And I’m again resentful of my husband’s career, causing me to feel like a bad military spouse. 

{5. I feel like I’m constantly fighting to be remembered.}

After our move from Charleston, I started sending letters, cards, and little gifts to friends there and back home. It made me happy, and it was a fun way for me to maintain friendships. But after two years of doing this, I noticed that I seldom got a “Thank you” or a card/letter in return. It felt like I was fighting a losing battle to be remembered (and that maybe I’d already been forgotten).

I know my friends have their own lives, stresses, and worries to attend to each day, and I can’t hold others to the standards I set for myself regarding communication. Nevertheless, it all feels very, “Out of sight, out of mind.” 

{6. I’m kinda over military life right now.}

As a military spouse, there’s an (almost) obligation to end a rant about the pitfalls of military life with, “But I love it all!” If we don’t, we come across as a negative, ungrateful, bad military spouse. For reals, though – I’m kinda over military life right now, and that’s a valid sentiment. I can’t wait for my husband to retire so we can buy a house and live in one area for the rest of our lives.

Do you have any taboo confessions that make you feel like a bad military spouse? Share them in the comments so others can see that they’re not alone.

Chris was born and raised in Northern California, but currently moves around the country (and maybe the world one day) with his husband Luis, who serves in the US Air Force. They have lived together in Charleston SC, Montgomery AL, and currently live in Cheyenne WY. They have one silly, energetic, and musical toddler daughter CeCe, who loves running around and playing with their golden doodle. Chris is a stay-at-home dad, and depending on the day, he views this as infinitely more enjoyable / exponentially more difficult than his previous job as a middle school math teacher. In his spare time, Chris loves to bake for his family and friends, read while enjoying a cup (read as “pot”) of coffee, get in a workout at the gym, walk aimlessly around Target, spin in circles outside with CeCe, and accomplish tasks on his To-Do list so that he can make an immensely satisfying check mark next to each completed task.

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5 Responses to 6 Taboo Confessions of a Bad Military Spouse

  1. Avatar
    Morgan April 9, 2018 at 8:19 am #

    It is so true that there’s a taboo around expressing frustration and having to always end it with, “But I still love it!” Or, a spouse who’s frustrated because they’re parenting solo, because they are married to someone they never see, etc. – is always met with a polite chastisement and reminder that “your husband/wife wishes that they could be home, too, you know.” Spouse frustrations are invalid because the military member always has it worse. But it’s not a competition, and it’s okay to be tapped on the military life sometimes. Thanks for posting this, I appreciate knowing that I’m not the only one who has these days!

    • Avatar
      Christopher Otero April 11, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

      Thank you for reading my post, Morgan. I agree that people write off our concerns when they say “your spouse doesn’t want to be away from their family” or “well, you knew what you were getting into” It’s super frustrating, cuz’ you want to educate them about military spouse life rather than shouting “Well, you complain about being a parent, but I’m almost certain that was a choice you made!” But like many aspects of life, it’s hard to appreciate and understand something if you haven’t lived it. I’m glad my article has validated your feelings.

  2. Avatar
    Kristin April 10, 2018 at 1:10 pm #

    I love this Chris! “But those are the things we need to say most, because keeping them inside only feeds the negativity” YES. Thanks for putting yourself out there and sharing.

    • Avatar
      Christopher Otero April 11, 2018 at 3:40 pm #

      Thank you for reading my post, Kristin! It was a cathartic post to write and share on Military Moms Blog 🙂

  3. Avatar
    jill levy July 19, 2018 at 12:02 pm #

    I LOVED this post. We are about to leave 11 years of active duty for tue reserves and airlines. I am a military member myaelf (4 yrs active, 7 yrs reserve) and all of these points hit way too close to home, especially the being “forgotten” and the “obligation to say, but i love it all!”

    My husband chose to leave AD, i really did want to leave it up to him because he is the breadwinner, but we had the same feelings of “over it”

    If you need a penpal to send /receive little gifts to, be in touch 🙂 i, too, did that and stopped. I still try to be thoughtful but it really does burn you out when it’s unreciprocated x 100.

    Great post!

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