Life as a Military Spouse

While this is (mostly) a running blog, it’s also a personal blog too.  After a long conversation with a friend, I realized where

I find myself constantly going back and forth of being: 

A “proud military spouse.”

To finding my own identity…

To being frustrated with the military because everything changes so rapidly…. 

I’ll always be proud of what my husband does, whether he is in the military or not.

Finding my own identity is a post by itself.  In conversation, I don’t care to talk about myself a lot (ironic since I’ve been blogging for five years), but I find myself questioning my identity.

Am I Hollie, military spouse?  Hollie the runner? Hollie the volunteer? Hollie the blogger?  To be honest, I don’t have an answer to that, and I find myself lost in my own identity.

And of course, the last frustration component makes up most of this blog. 

You know what?

Life has been hard.

Not in a whiny sense but in a talk real sense.  My husband and I are preparing for another deployment soon.  By “preparing”, I mean the Air Force needed him for another last minute trip, and he is currently away doing something else.  The trip was only supposed to last four days but four days turned to 5…6…7…and we are still counting upwards.

In the next 16 days, there is a lot to do before the deployment.  None of these things, he (or I) can do while he is away doing something else.  Sure there are goodbyes, but there is a lot of paperwork and misc tasks that have to be done beforehand.

These tasks are done on top of working a normal job.  What most people don’t realize is that also with the military, you don’t just “fly some” and come home.  When you’re not flying you’re back doing things on base too.  So it isn’t like a vacation when he is back. Not that he has been back to do that.

Essentially neither of us work regular hours.  Today (Friday) was our only day off together for the next 16 days, but that didn’t pan out. With my job, I must request days off a month in advance.  Working in retail that is what happens.  You can’t call in sick because if you do, the store can’t function. It ultimately strains the store.

I love my job but to give you an idea of how August played out, I asked for four days off to spend with my husband.  All four of those days he had emergency missions.  All four of those days off were wasted for me.  If I hadn’t requested off, I’m sure he would have had off.

With the military, your plans are always changing.  Your needs can often come behind the needs of the AF and the county.  I love my husband, and we are in a happy marriage but this month has tested both my stress and anxiety.  I would by lying if I said I hadn’t cried when several plans were canceled. Is it the end of the world?  No, but it’s frustrating.

I’m not a perfect wife, military spouse or person.  I do know that if he could, my husband wouldn’t cancel plans.  

So where does this leave me now? 
The same place I started.  Unfortunately, my plans are often dependent on what the needs of the military.  I’ll keep trucking on and we will make the best of the situation as we normally do.

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  1. Thank you for sharing. I’m a “military dad” and I often wonder whether I’m striking the right balance between staying in contact and keeping him informed, and not bugging him too much or making him feel bad about not being able to do certain things because of his obligations.
    It makes me realize how much sacrifice they take on just to “do their job” without even adding in some of the conditions and situations they deal with.

  2. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Military life is definitely not easy and I give you so much credit. I don’t know if I could do it. I’m a planner and like everything laid out months in advance, so for you to ask for days off work and then not be able to actually spend time with your husband, I’d be a mess. I used to get upset when dinner was delayed a few hours due to a train delay in DC. Hang in there and know you can always vent if you need someone to talk to.

  3. I really feel you on this one. There are 2-3 weeks every month where I go without really seeing my husband (and in that case I’m acting as a single parent while working a ft job) because of his schedule, and right now we’re in the midst of waiting on orders that could have us leaving Charleston RIGHT before our second baby is due. Logistically, it’s a nightmare. I barely bothered to make friends in our three years here because I know we’re leaving, my husband doesn’t understand how it’s not easy to find jobs immediately in the civilian world (especially in my career) and there’s the whole I have no help with my baby (no grandparents around) thing, which means I’m always exhausted. Our life before this move was VERY different–I was in my hometown of San Diego, we didn’t have kids and I had a great friend/running friend base,so this has been a complete 180 (minus having our baby, of course that’s wonderful!). I’ve found that if I don’t have something to focus on outside of the day-to-day I start spiraling. For me it’s running, a race, a PR goal and even my silly blog or my favorite blogs that I follow. I’ve always had my own identity separate from my husband’s job–even though military life affects me in every way, that’s still HIS job, not mine and I have a need to be my own person. It’s a very hard balance. I hope you get through this deployment easily…and send me a message if you ever need to vent. I’m right there with you. 🙂

    1. My heart goes out to you Mollie and if you ever need someone to chat too, I’m here as well.

  4. Hugs girl. Wish I could say it gets easier but we are still dealing with these issues 15 years into military life. It’s tough! I will say my mindset has changed since our first years in and anytime together is thoroughly appreciated. It does keep life interesting too! We have had so many great adventures that we never would have had otherwise. I hope you two get some downtime together soon!

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience Hollie. I can’t imagine how stressful that would be on you and on your marriage. Keep on being strong and things will always work out how they should.

  6. There’s nothing whiny about this. Being supportive of your husband’s military career doesn’t mean you have to be happy about it 100% of the time and no one should expect you to be! I do better with routine so it’s tough for me when plans suddenly change when something comes up so I imagine I’d be feeling the same way if I were in your situation. I think the other tough thing is being apart a lot when it’s supposed to be your time together. Hang in there! I’m glad you decided to share this post.

  7. This is a great insight into your day-to-day life, Hollie. It sounds tough being in your position, but your husband is so lucky to have you at his side, always supporting him. As for your identity, I see you as a really honest, hard-working and fun person. I’ve learned that it’s best to define yourself by your core values and traits, not things like “wife” “runner” “career person” etc. Those can all change, but at your core you are a strong women who works had to adapt to circumstances as needed.

  8. Hollie, as a former active duty member and current reservist, I really sympathize with you. While the job was fulfilling on a lot of levels, it was the lack of freedom that ultimately led me to leave AD military service. You basically hand your life over to the US Government, and with the stroke of a pen, a detailer having a bad day can send you and your family to any corner of the US or world they feel like and there is nothing you can do. I witnessed it all the time. Your job is especically difficult because as a ‘military spouse’ you are expected to silently support your husband while he is ordered to do his job away from you. But your identity is far more complex than just ‘military spouse’, and the idea that you must always supress your wants and needs for what the government needs is a challenge that isn’t fair.

    I watched my sister have crushing anxiety as her husband thought about re-joining the marines, knowing that the future would be a dice roll. Once her husband thought about what military life was really like, and the time he had to spend away from her, he ultimately decided against it.

    I recently went to a few retirement ceremonies, and as the Captain acknowledge a wife who stood by her husband and supported him after 25 years of service, missing important family events, kids soccer games, many nights alone, the big payoff for this was some flowers and a paper certificate of appreciation. I thought it seemed hardly worth the sacrifice.

    I’m sure that your husband has a terrific job, and his service has tremendous value, but a conversation on whether or not that sacrifice is worth it is never a bad idea, and you both might find that it is worth it. I am sorry to not offer comfort, but I just know the realities of military life all too well.

    I wish you both the best,


    1. Thank you so much for your comment. It really made my day. I remember listening to when my father retired after 30 years and thanking my mom for everything she had done. I couldn’t fathom it at the time.

  9. I think you’re just Hollie. I don’t know that I’ve ever really thought about like, “Hey, I’m Liz the nurse” or “I’m Liz the traveler!” or “Liz the mom.” I don’t really feel defined by any of those things. Thankfully Jon isn’t in a job where he travels a ton, although he does do trips out of town. But his job isn’t a set job and I get kind of irritated having to take a back seat to his job fairly often. Sometimes I just want to be like, “I don’t care if a doctor wants to talk to you! CALL HIM BACK LATER!” I am so thankful that Jon and I both got out of the Army. I honestly don’t think I’d deal well with him being gone for long periods of time. One of the reasons I got out of the Army was because when I was deployed, I was assigned to work on awards. I LOVED my job in the ER and loved my medics. I was told the awards would take 2 weeks, but after a few days, the NCOIC of that department told me he was going to keep me doing paperwork until the end of the deployment because I was so efficient. I was PISSED. It was nearly impossible to get out of it and I finally had to go to my 1SG and explain that I had a significant history with depression and didn’t want to be in a position, stuck in Iraq, doing something I hated and not even working night shift with all of the people I had befriended. It made me realize that I had absolutely no freedom over my job. So, that was it. I decided I wanted a job where -I- control my own life. Anyway, I know it sucks to have somebody keep leaving. I can’t imagine. But you really seem like a perfect fit for it because you get it and you support him so well.

  10. I have no idea who I am — and I haven’t since I left my career six years ago. Sure, I have a job now, but that career of 10 years was my identity and my life. It sometimes feels very weird and unnerving, but hey, I’m a daughter and a sister and a granddaughter. And I’m not a felon, so that’s always a plus. 🙂
    I’ve had a lot of friends in the military and law enforcement, and it’s not an easy life to juggle. I know some forget that service members and their families are still just ordinary people, and that’s where I think honest blog posts like yours are good. Having your plans ruined repeatedly must be so hard, and I’m sorry yours were dashed again. Virtual hugs to you.

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