You know you’re a military wife when…

When all is said and done, being a military wife can either make you or break you. My husband and I are about to celebrate 25 years of marriage this coming June and during that time, the military has always been by our side, for better or worse. In some ways, military life has helped make our marriage stronger – it has certainly tested our bonds. But having a partner willing to listen to complaints as readily as he is willing to celebrate the joys has helped our marriage thrive.

You know you’re a military wife when…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA… you walk under an archway of sabers in your wedding gown and on the arm of your handsome, uniformed husband and his comrades in arms serenade you at the reception with Take My Breathe Away from Top Gun (yes, I am not ashamed to admit that I am a bride of 1990).

…your husband’s first assignment takes you to a place you never imagined you would live, the tundra of Alaska.

…someone asks your husband’s rank and or position before they ask you what you do yourself.

…your parents come to visit and your husband suddenly gets orders to deploy. After the third visit and accompanying last minute deployment, your mother begins to wonder if he is really deploying at all.

…last minute deployment demands that you sew name tapes on the new uniforms (and you find out after he leaves that you sewed the name tape where US Air Force should go and visa versa).

…you decide to not take a 9-5 job so that you can spend more time with your shift working husband and take advantage of his unconventional “weekends” and travel around Europe (not taking into account how it might hurt your future job prospects).

…the librarian tells you she can’t give you a library card because you don’t have your sponsor standing by your side.

…your husband calls while on TDY to say that the assignment to Elmendorf, Alaska just been cancelled and instead of moving to your dream location in 30 days, your family is moving to Las Vegas, Nevada instead. Tear up game plan. Start over for new location.

…state to state move means you get to take vacation en route and the entire family has the camping trip of a lifetime.

…a salesperson at the Natural Science Museum in Denver, Colorado tells you that you and your kids don’t have to pay to enter and to please enjoy the visit.

…a salesperson at the San Antonio Botanical Garden tells you that a military discount isn’t available unless your active duty sponsor visits with you. Your husband happens to be deployed to Afghanistan at the time.

…you live on a base so removed from everything that wild turkeys visit your backyard.

… orders arrive and you get to experience Europe for a second time in his career and break out the champagne.

…your friend tells you that she is getting a divorce because she just can’t take military life anymore.

Travel image…the travel agent arranging your official travel tells you that she can’t get government rate tickets to the airport closest to your husband’s new assignment so you will have to travel to a different airport and transfer yourself, your children, and all your luggage from the airport to the train station and finish the final leg all while managing a foreign language.

…the movers packing you out tell you that they are short a crate but one is on its way. Your most expensive household goods, including the brand new television your husband just bought, are sitting on the driveway and all but one packer leaves. The remaining packer settles down under a blanket to go to sleep. It’s 10pm and your flight leaves at 6am and you have two children that need to get to bed. Your husband? He’s already in the new location learning his new job.

…the flight attendant tells you that you shouldn’t travel with more belongings than you can manage on your own (stroller, carseat, carry-on diaper bag, backpack in place of purse). She could care less that you are on official orders and not going on vacation.

…base command tells you that you cannot live off-base in a house with a yard because there are perfectly acceptable apartments available on base. No matter that it’s a two bedroom apartment of less than a 1000 square feet and you are raising two rambunctious boys. You then feel sorry for anyone that has to live below you.

…your friend tells you that her retired military husband is leaving her for another woman and she regrets giving up great jobs at several locations because now she needs the work experience to be able to support herself.

…when your mother asks if there is any chance that your husband will get assigned to Monterey, California and you tell her there is no way in hell. And thirty days later you are calling her back to tell her that your family will be moving to Monterey at the end of the year.

…the military invites you to attend a training in order to better understand your husband’s new position. And you learn all the things that you are prevented from doing and all the things that they would love you to do but won’t require because they can’t hold you (completely) accountable nor pay you a salary.Angela Drake Texas

… you find yourself living in South America not once, but twice. The US doesn’t even have bases in South America.

…a fellow military spouse cancels at the last minute and you find yourself dressing in “Texan” costume to explain American culture to more than 500 foreign military spouses all by yourself (and at last minute, your husband says he can join you so that you don’t have to do it alone).

…you make friends with military spouses from several countries around the world and wonder how all of us can be so much alike when we come from such very different places. And you wonder if this is the end of a career or just the beginning to the next step of the journey.

Please share your own unique military spouse moments in the comments below.

Angie DrakeAngie is the founder of Not Your Average American where she currently writes about living and traveling in South America. As the daughter of an Air Force NCO and the wife of an Air Force Officer, she has broad experience with military life. She is outspoken about issues that affect the military community and posts opinion pieces at DailyKos and helps run the KeepYourPromise Facebook page with more than 100,000 followers fighting to keep military pay and benefits intact.

11 Replies to “You know you’re a military wife when…”

  1. Patricia says:

    Muy bonitos pensamientos, Angie, le traduje a Patricia gran parte de ellos, Patricia y yo tenemos 33 años de haber compartido la vida militar, desde novios hasta hoy felizmente, con las obvias diferencias de la USAF y la FAE, pero en el fondo es todo muy similar e igualmente nos hace sentir muy orgullosos de lo que en estos años hemos vivido en compañía de nuestros compañeros de arma, nuestros hijos vivieron gran parte de sus vidas en medio de aviones y ruido de motores, jugando con serpientes en Taura con sus hermanos mayores y menores que eran los hijos de mis compañeros, padecimos por los viajes, fuimos muy felices en las bases etc. Gracias por mantener este website. “The Air Power is the same all over the world”
    Patricia y Jorge Estrella V

    1. A mis lindos amigos Patty y Jorge,

      Me pregunto si es el primero comentario en español en este blog! Qué bueno! Tengo que preguntar a Military One Click si ellos quieren artículos sobre la vida militar en español 🙂

      Sus palabras amables me hacen sentir muy contenta. Ambos tienen almas que abrazan el mundo, no importa lo difícil de las circunstancias y el amor que tienen el uno al otro es evidente en todo lo que hacen Uds. Gracias por ser mis amigos.

      Un abrazo fuertísimo!


  2. Michelle says:

    I love this article, Angie! I have really grown to respect and admire the military spouses I’ve come to know over the years.

    1. Thank you so much, Michelle! And thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. It means a lot.

  3. Hi Angie,

    Loved reading your article that your Mom posted on her Facebook page. As an Army wife of twenty years, I could certainly appreciate so many of these stories. I too walked under the sabers of my husband’s friends who were all officers of Army, Navy and Air Force. We never got to Europe because of two tours in Vietnam but my husband did have one secret tour. He couldn’t tell me where he was and of course I was pregnant with our first child. It was my Army wife friends who were with me when our son was born. I could go on with other funny stories like yours.

    Your Mom and Dad stayed at my house in Pacifc Grove when they were visiting you in Monterey. We have been Facebook Friends since.
    May you and your husband have many more happy years together as we have. Will be celebrating 53 years in June.

    Thank you to you, your husband and children for being a Military Family.


    Mary Looram

    1. Thanks so much for leaving a comment Mary!

      My Facebook is filled with friends we have met in the same way you met my parents – I think it is almost easier for military husbands and wives to quickly adapt to this new way of making friends because we are used to the comings and goings of so many people in our lives. Facebook certainly makes it a lot easier to keep up with everyone.

      And congrats on 53 years! We will be visiting Pacific Grove this summer… maybe we will get a chance to meet in person!


  4. Tracy Sivacek says:

    My gosh, too accurate. I wanted to travel everywhere, but when our disabled son was born that ended that. We stay stateside, father soldier travels everywhere alone…and he’s the homebody, I’m the one who loves to travel. Because of our child’s circumstances though, we threw everything into his career. I have had long bouts of feeling lost followed by long bouts of rebirth. Because I gave up my work aspirations, I have felt nervous witnessing other spouses try to recover financially and career-wise too when the marriage failed. It’s a little heartbreaking witnessing anyone go through that. I am equally astonished at the dual soldier families though, mom is just getting home from Kuwait and dad is packing for Afghanistan…and they are doing it. I’m just blown away by them. And I do love the man that the military had a hand in creating, I love this man who has seen just about everything so I can discuss anything with him. He is a student for life, I will never grow old with him, just grow. He has exercised ethics in horrible heart rending situations, makes it easy to exercise ethics in everyday situations I suppose 🙂

    1. Every military family is so unique, Tracy. Yet we all have so many funny little stories that all of us can point to as being iconic to our experience! I wish more of us would remember that when we point fingers at each other and call each other names. The ethics that your husband has learned in the field is something we need brought back into everyday military life – at all levels of the community. And it’s folks like you and him that are helping to make that happen. Thank you!

  5. Donna Williams says:

    Being a military spouse…..having a dream the night of your due date with your first child that the child would be born 10 days late, be a girl, and wouldn’t meet Daddy until she was 3 days old. Turned out our baby girl was born 10 days past her due date and Daddy was in the middle of 3 days of survival training, so didn’t get to meet our baby girl until she was a day and a half old. This was in 1987 in Pensacola, FL and we did not know we were having a girl.

    1. Good stuff Donna!

  6. Matilde dolohery says:

    The long lasting friendships you make with other men and women who also served with your service member and which I now consider my extended military family!

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