Shelle Edit: Elaina is new to me. I met her while she was debating with Sage and Gucci Mama over at Gucci Mama's place-she was the liberal amongst the conservatives. The thing I DO remember about her was that she knew her politics, and she was well written, and spoke her points well. So I was very excited when she wrote this post for us. Go Check out her personal blog if you like what she says here. Thanks Elaina!
My husband is my one and only. He’s the only man I’ve ever loved, and I trusted our love enough to marry him one month shy of my 20th birthday, for no real reason, translation: (I wasn’t pregnant).
But I am not his one and only.
No, there is a seedy mistress that lurks in our lives, waiting to take him away from me and our children, and her name is…Uncle Sam. My husband and I had been married 6 months when he came home from work one night and said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about joining the Army.” This completely blew my mind. I had, at one point in my life, dreamed of being an Army nurse (I have all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H on DVD, but I’m sure it’s not related), but I have asthma and didn’t qualify. I had given up on my dream, married a man I loved, and was working a full time job and going to school. I had had a miscarriage the month before, and was still in shock; my world had come together and fallen apart, all in 6 months, and now, now, he’s telling me that he wants to join the Army? I said the only thing I could think of: “You do know we’re in two wars right now, right?” However, it was something that he really wanted to do. We were broke, as in “hey, do you think we can make a casserole out of elbow macaroni and cheerios?” broke. I was working full time, then driving from Atlanta to my college in West Georgia an hour and a half west of Atlanta for class, and then back to our apartment somewhere in the middle. I was exhausted, and my car needed new spark plugs. But that’s not why he enlisted. He enlisted because he wanted to serve, and yes, because he wanted a better life for us.
Our pregnancy was scary. We had been married only 3 months when we found out. We had been using birth control, but we were thrilled; you’ve never seen two people happier. We didn’t know how we’d manage, but we knew we’d get by. He took off work to go to every doctor’s appointment with me, and he was there when the doctor told us our baby was dead. I miscarried on the Sunday after Easter, in 2006. We knew right away that we wanted to try again, but we also knew it would be completely irresponsible; an accident was one thing, but purposely bringing a baby into our macaroni-and-cheerio-casserole situation just was not a good idea. So, we painfully decided to wait.
In May, the night he came home with this “wonderful” news, I could have strangled him. I mean, couldn’t he see that I was grieving our baby, and now he wanted to take himself away from me, too? It was too much to handle. The next morning, I called into work and we went to talk to a recruiter. That July he left for basic training. The Army has been good to us. We paid off all our debt, and acquired some shiny new debt. We bought a new car (by the way, my old car got its new spark plugs, and a new owner). We visited Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, and tons of other places. I’ve had Dunkin Donuts a few blocks from the Brandenburg Gate, and I’ve had smoked beer at Oktoberfest (it was awful). I learned how to be independent, which was a good thing for me. I went from my living with my aunt to living with my husband, but I had never been alone.
In my first year as an Army Wife, I moved to a foreign country, I got pregnant again, and I sent my husband off to war. That day was the hardest day of my life. There are no words to describe the despair that you feel when someone you love goes off to war, no way to explain what it’s like to know that this may be the last time that you see him. To wonder if death will come for him, and to wonder if he’ll die in his buddy’s arms while you're a world away, safe and warm. It’s morbid and depressing, but we all do it.
When he was deployed, we talked as much as we could, but it was like being married to a phone. I never went anywhere without my phone. When I showered, I took it to the bathroom. When I had a doctor’s appointment, I didn’t put it on silent. When I slept, it was beside my pillow. But how can a marriage survive if all you have to hold is a phone? He came home, 15 months later, to a daughter who didn’t know him, and a wife who had forgotten many things. When he moved in the night, I woke up, startled, because someone was in bed with me. He re-arranged the furniture, and I put it right back. He made dinner and put the pots in the wrong places. Everything that kept me sane when he was gone went out the window when he came back. During his absence, every minute detail became important to me. I had no control over my husband’s safety, but I did have control over where the salt and pepper shakers went.
Even worse than the absence, though, is when he’s here and yet he’s gone anyway. Last year, I spent 10 days with my husband in a 4 month period. He was not deployed, but rather he was assigned to help other units getting ready for a deployment with their training. I never know when he’ll be called into work, either for a few minutes or a few weeks.
The worst part, though, is knowing that I come second. If it’s my birthday, the Army doesn’t care. If he was a lawyer, he could tell his boss that he wouldn’t be in. If he was a teacher, he could take the day off. But there is no saying no to the Army. If they want him there, he’ll be there or there’ll be hell to pay. How do I cope? Well, I reassure myself that he loves what he does, that he loves me, and that it is possible for him to love both of us. The Army is something that he is a part of, so I make it important to me. I bake cookies for single soldiers, I’m active in family readiness groups, and I know almost as much of the lingo as he does. It used to other me that the Army sometimes had to come first, but I know that I’m first in his heart, and that’s where it matters the most.
Does anyone else know what it's like to be the second priority of your spouse? Why, and how do you deal with it?
2 years ago