Ridiculously large grandma skivvies…..check!
Seabag check list complete. Nowhere on that list does it say spouse. I can remember people joking that a spouse wasn’t issued in your seabag, but until I enlisted, I didn’t know just how true that was. I thought I was prepared for what was coming. I knew my husband and I would have some extra challenges being a dual military couple. I had no idea what I was in for; here are the dual military marriage benefits and challenges.
I knew the military has policies and instructions on how to station dual military couples together. I read every word of those while I was in a-school to make sure I knew what to expect. I even got orders less than three hours from my husband. I wasn’t expecting there to be fine print on those instructions that state if you are a first term sailor (or Marine) then the military doesn’t have to follow the 90 mile rule. I wasn’t prepared for having my orders taken from me and being told I would be stationed 502 miles away from my husband instead. I wasn’t ready to find out I was going to the last city in the world I wanted to be stationed.
Once I finished having a meltdown in the middle of Mississippi, I hiked up my grandma skivvies and started moving forward. I read more instructions and policies about dual military couples than I ever wanted to. I was surprised at how many instructions came with fine print. I wasn’t entitled to separation pay because I didn’t share an address with my husband before we were married. I wasn’t able to try to receive transfer orders because I was a first term sailor. So many instructions were out there to help us, and other dual military couples, but I couldn’t use them because I wasn’t in the military long enough for them to apply to me.
In case the idea of going back to Norfolk alone wasn’t enough to stress me out, less than three months after arriving to my new squadron, I was deployed. I’m used to being on the receiving end of the “I’m going to deploy” phone calls so making that call to my husband wasn’t fun. Our first year of marriage and we got to spend a grand total of 19 days together!
I know what you’re thinking. That this is military life and I should have known what I was getting into. And I did for the most part. But nothing in my past could prepare me to be 4 months into a 9 months deployment and find out my husband was about to be deployed too. We didn’t plan well for that. Paperwork needed to be done. Legal documents needed to be signed. Permissions had to be transferred to another family member to take care of anything that could possibly arise at home. Oh and this all had to be done with sketchy phone calls from an aircraft carrier and email that would get locked out at least once a day.
I will say that for the most part having my husband deployed while I was gone was easy. We were already apart all the time and time differences were normal. It wasn’t until I was pulling back into Norfolk that it hit me: my husband was not going to be on the pier.
I was standing in the hangerbay on the phone with him and when he said he was sorry he wasn’t there I just started to cry. Nine months of deployment and my husband wasn’t even going to be there to welcome me home.
Now before you start feeling sorry for us and wonder how we do it let me say there are some great parts about dual military marriage and being stationed 502 miles apart.
First off, we have to be able to communicate. My husband and I have gotten really good at expressing ourselves. We have to talk. We have to finish the tough conversations even when we don’t want. From the beginning of our relationship, we have always had to learn to talk things out. We can’t just run off to opposite corners when something is wrong. Or jump into bed and try to ignore the problems either. I’m thankful that he and I have had this opportunity to learn how to really talk. I feel very lucky when I hear other people tell me their spouse isn’t good at communicating because I know my husband tries every day.
And you know, when you only see each other 19 days in a year, you do not take any moment for granted. My husband and I will be married two years this year, but still act like we just met because. We get first kisses and first dates all over again. We get to live the first four years of our marriage in a happy honeymoon stage when we’re together. Let me tell you, that alone makes it worth it!
5 Tips and Strategies for Surviving a Dual Military Marriage