Somewhere out there is a military spouse outraged at the next step in my husband’s career. And the outrage is not because of his next assignment, the outrage is because I let him. “I can’t believe you let your husband do that!” That being – deploy, take a new job, attend a school, etc.
I’m sorry, I let him? Like he asked my permission? Like he needed to? Last I checked I married a man, a Soldier, someone who I clearly trusted to make important decisions. He doesn’t need my permission to do anything.
Let me start from the beginning: My husband had a great job, with good hours for the past 2.5 years. He wanted something different, and had an opportunity to do another job. One with longer hours, weekends, nights, 14+ hour days, with no extra money. Knowing full well that this would be a strain on the family, the kids, the marriage, and a physical strain on him, this was what he wanted to do. When I would tell other spouses that this was the next step for him, I was constantly hit with: Why in the world would you want him to do that? How could you let him? Don’t you know you won’t ever see him?
Now I often appreciate the truth these milspouses share when facing a new duty station, job, or position, but I found that to be insulting, both to me and to him. We are a team, we’ve always been a team. In a team you make sacrifices for each other, to push each other forward, to make each other happy. This was no exception.
No one doubts that, in marriage especially, effective communication, discussion, and respect is important, but I would never, ever expect him to come and ask my permission for something. Just as I don’t ask for his. Feminists would roll over in the grave with this idea that we have to ask our husband’s permission, so why do we expect them to ask ours?
My husband has career goals and he has a far better idea of what is needed to accomplish them than I do. He has a plan, goals, and who am I to stand in his way? As these goals have adapted throughout life, I trust that he is motivated by his family. With that motivation comes dedication, the desire to provide for us, to make us happy, to do the best he can for us. So, if that means a less than desirable assignment to move closer to his goal, why shouldn’t he accept it?
If I asked him to turn down an assignment, would he? I’m not sure, I’ve never asked. I do believe he listens to me, considers my opinions and reasons, and then makes his decision. But I do not think I will ever ask. Why? Because if I do ask and he does turn down something he wants to do, our marriage will be doomed. Maybe not that day, maybe not that year, but at some point down the road, he will resent me for it. Resent me for putting him in that situation and resent himself for letting that opportunity pass by.
This is not something unique to the military, or even a job. If your spouse was climbing the ladder at their law firm and were then offered a partnership somewhere across the country, would it be ok to tell them no because you don’t want to move? If your spouse wanted to train for a marathon, would you say no because it would take time away from the family? If your spouse wanted to go back to school, would you say no because it may push off your vacation plans for a few years? Hopefully not.
When you love someone, you want to make them happy. And if making them happy means moving across the country, or taking a harder job, or getting up early on a Saturday to take them to the starting line, you do it. You don’t ask questions, you don’t expect anything in return, you just do it. Whatever it takes, to help them reach their goal. Their goal is important to you because they are important to you.
So, that is why, when my husband said, “I want to do this next,” I said, “Ok dear, let’s make that happen.” Without hesitation, without sarcasm, without a doubt that this was the next thing he would accomplish and I certainly didn’t want to be the one who stands in his way.