So much of what we as spouses encounter daily is subject to any number of gag rules. Your spouse’s deployment — subject to OPSEC. You can know the movements your spouse may make, but you are sworn to a secrecy designed to protect the one you love who serves in harm’s way.
Your feelings towards the new CO of your wife’s company — subject to silence by your wife. Under no circumstances have the thoughts of a military spouse been allowed to surface unfiltered. Your active duty service member’s job may depend on you suffering the new misogynistic, homophobic Sergeant Major in silence, but sometimes there arises a moment we, as spouses must break that gag rule we set for ourselves and speak about the things most taboo, most hidden under the rug of discretion, so that those suffering no longer have to in silence.
Every military spouse has that one special friend, that no matter the duty station or deployment or new addition to the family, you know will be there for you under every circumstance. Mine, who I will call Rose for the purpose of this article, is one of the best. She was there for me the moment I found out I was pregnant with our first baby, ran beside me during my husband’s first deployment, witnessed (and filmed) the birth of our daughter, made her first three birthday cakes, and saw me into my 30s in true Vegas opulence. She is irreplaceable, a sister more than a friend and the most dedicated military spouse I knew. No one supported their husband more than this 12-year Navy wife of an aviator, and no one was more self-sufficient when her husband was deployed or gone on any number of training missions.
So when Rose’s husband asked her to remain behind at her job in Hawaii to make a little more money while he PCSed to Japan, she obliged. It seemed the smartest move for their family. I saw her rise to the occasion, making it to the cover of a magazine for her dedication as a building manager on Oahu. Promotions followed and raises that mirrored her hard work, all things for her husband to be proud of. Except he wasn’t. He kept pushing back their un-geobachelor date, became more distant, something we both blamed on the time change, the late nights and training he was doing, each of us unwilling to voice our concerns.
Over time, however, Rose opened up to me about something that had been eating away at her, something she was terrified to give a name to, scared to investigate too closely. Her husband had been getting particularly close to a woman in his graduate school program while he was still in Hawaii. When she’d asked him to stop talking so much with her (he was sometimes texting up to 600 times a month with her, most of which transpired between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.), he told her he would never give up this friendship. Red flags were raised, sirens blew, and alarms blared. This was not OK. Still, Rose moved to Japan by October of that year and in January, after being ignored for three solid months by the man she loved and supported, she found his phone, open and unlocked and full of proof that his “friendship” with that woman was anything but.