There’s No Such Thing as a Typical Military Spouse Experience

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There’s No Such Thing as a Typical Military Spouse Experience

Every military spouse has a story to tell. Those stories could be humorous or heartbreaking, but no two are alike. And, some spouses are reluctant to share these stories because they think they are alone in their experiences. But that’s not true. In fact, many brave military spouses from Ft. Hood, Texas gathered at the SpouseBUZZ Live event – held at the Plaza Hotel – to share all of their stories and experiences, both joyful and challenging, with each other.

Spouses and SpouseBUZZ Live panelists ( bloggers Andi Hurley, ArmyWifeToddlerMom, and Joan D’Arc, were just a few of 12 bloggers present) discussed their experiences with constant relocation, frequent deployments, and homecoming. Additionally, the panelists talked about some of the harder issues of being a military spouse such as, when your spouse becomes seriously injured, and raising children alone during a deployment.

“SpouseBuzz is not going to shy away from the tough topics,” said Andi Hurley.

One of the most difficult subjects discussed that hit home for a lot of SpouseBUZZ attendees was reintegration. Blogger, ArmyWifeToddlerMom, gave a tearful account of how her husband’s homecoming was stressful due to the significant changes that had taken place at home while he was deployed.

“I was worried that I had gained all of this weight [from her first pregnancy], and there was a new baby he hadn’t seen, and that he was going to come home to this whole other person,” explained ArmyWifeToddlerMom.

“I was terrified … but he didn’t care about that stuff. I made it [homecoming] a monster that it didn’t need to be,” she concluded.

Another complex topic addressed was hearing that your spouse was injured while serving. Army wife, Joan D’Arc, described how her husband sustained a serious injury from an improvised explosive device (IED) while deployed in Iraq.

She described the heartbreak and anxiety of getting the phone call informing her that her husband had been hurt, to seeing him incapacitated and in pain in a hospital bed.

“[I told him] As long as you'ew home with me, you not having an arm or leg doesn’t bother me,” she said.

Joan D’Arc continued to describe how she stayed by her husband’s side day-in and day-out for weeks on end, until he improved. Today, he does not have full use of his hand, but he was able to make a recovery.

One of Joan’s most pertinent pieces of advice for military spouses was to not compare experiences.
“I can not compare my experience to yours and you can not compare yours to mine, all though it sucked, but everyone’s experience is different,” she said.

SpouseBUZZ Live, helped military spouses come forward and let each other know that even though every story is different, they are not alone. is also a great way to keep sharing those experiences online. Spouses can read blogs from Andi Hurley, Joan D’Arc, or ArmyWifeToddlerMom (just to name a few) about the topics – reintegration, the War on Terror, and deployments – that make you laugh, and make you cry.

To read these blogs or submit a question or comment about military spouse life, visit

About the Author

Love My Tanker

I am an Active Duty Army Wife. I have enjoyed living in the US and overseas. I have volunteered in many realms over the years with various FRGs, Sew Much Comfort and a Wounded Warrior Equine Therapy program. I consider myself lucky to have been a part of the SpouseBUZZ family since 2006.

I homeschool my children and continue to love volunteering when time allows. The Army life is a busy life, but a good life!

25 Comments on "There’s No Such Thing as a Typical Military Spouse Experience"

  1. I know everyone's story is different, but most have striking resemblences. I am sure there are many wives out there who have had to move while their husband is gone. I moved from Arkansas to Germany about 18 months ago while my husband was TDY. Now he's in Kosovo and due to family emergencies I am doing an Advance Return of Dependent back to Arkansas. My grandparents are both ill and I feel like I need to be there to take care of them since they took care of me for 13 years. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who understands why I feel I need to go.
    I just love how in all the pre-deployment briefing we have to sit through all the people in the rear talk about how they are here to help with anything all we have to do is ask. Then when the time comes and you need help, where are all those people? Hiding from you!!I was told with the situation I could have my AROD orders in 1-2 weeks. Now 5 weeks later I received them after having to complain to my husband's commander who is in Kosovo as well. It's sad what people thousands of miles away can accomplish as opposed to those right here.
    It's hard enough dealing with being in a foreign country alone, adding all of the family stress hasn't helped.

  2. Smittywife~ I am sorry for the illness of your grandparents and for the time it is taking to get your paperwork done. I hope that all will be completed very soon so that you can take care of your move and relocate to where you are needed.
    An ARD and ERD are very similar when it comes to the paperwork and the chain. The only real difference is that with an ARD, the family or soldier begins the paperwork. The same ultimate rules govern both situations.
    You may already be aware that the paperwork needed for your to return CONUS has to move up the chain to be approved by, "an officer in the grade of O-6 or higher who is the member's installation commander, or the commanding officer of the unit to which the member is assigned."
    It is not comforting I know, but unfortunately when things must go up the chain to a higher rank, it does tend to take an extra amount of time. I am listing this information so that others in your situation might benefit from knowing how high up the approval actually has to go. I am personally shocked that anyone told you it would only take 1-2 weeks. When we were stationed in GE, I never recall an ERD or ARD begin approved that quickly.
    I wish you well and hope that the command team will be able to help you and get your paperwork processed soon and that your husband will return from Kosovo soon and safely. Best wishes to you and yours.
    Anyone looking into a possible ERD/ARD from OCONUS can find more information here:

  3. After long distance dating for 2 years, my husband & I married in March of this year. We had one month together, then he deployed to Iraq. Because my job with the Post Office is in Texas and my husband's job is in California, we haven't lived together since our marriage. When he returns, he is due to be assigned to a new location. Once we know where that will be, I hope to transfer my job. I am close to being able to retire so I am not eager to quit in order to go where my husband goes.
    I wonder if I am the only military spouse in the world that does not live with her husband?

  4. Jill~ I think you will find many, many spouses that do not live together. I know several personally that have lived apart the majority of the military member's career.
    The circumstances and reason vary, but I have known many spouses that live apart.
    Some do so because of jobs, upcoming deployments, the education of their children, etc.
    I hope you will be able to transfer when the time comes and that the USPS will work with you on that.
    Best wishes and congrats on your marriage!!

  5. DeDe Tebedo | November 8, 2006 at 2:20 am |

    What about the men and women that approach married soldiers in a romantic way. I had this happend, but thank God I have a man that loves me and his kids and didn't act upon her proposition. I know it takes 2 to tango, but this is a huge problem and I only wish that people would think of the consequences an affair can have on a family, especially the kids. Thanks for listening.

  6. I am a retired USAF (vietnam era) vet. As well as having been married to a service member, I was one. Now our son is USN and deployed. I understand many of the difficulties raising a baby or even just living alone. I have always supported their marriage and offered to help all I can. Instead I do not even know where my grandson is, how he is, or what he looks like. I believe children and the spouses left behind need as much support and love as they can get. I miss my son, my daughter in law, and I don't even know my only grandbaby. Unless your children's safety is at risk please remember to treat their grandparents well even if you don't need or want their help. As much as you love your children, we love ours. And as much as you miss and worry about your loved ones, so do we (and we miss and worry about you as well). Please find a small place in your hearts for us. I have great respect for those left at home for your situations can be overwhelming at times (remember I know) and people too often forget to thank the families that are supporting our military members and that's wrong, for their sacrifices should not go unappreciated. Thank you from a broken-hearted grandma and veteran.

  7. C-5 veteran spouse | November 8, 2006 at 12:05 pm |

    As the divorced spouse of an Air Force pilot, I found myself remembering the days of moves, tdys, and babies. I was married for 23 years 20 of which was spent experiencing pilot training, first assignment moves with 6 wk old 2nd baby and a 3 year old, and subsequent assignments at the pentagon, middle of the Oklahoma plain, and Atlantic seaside. One thing I have to say is I terribly missed the family I had built with other military spouses. When I found myself divorced, I found myself devoid of my support system.
    The sisters I had for the deployments, tdy's, etc. were no longer available. I wasn't a part of that society anymore.
    So, the one thing I would like to get across to all those military spouses with all that experience you have incured is to remember those who find themselves separated from you through divorce or, God forbid, death. Call them, remember the fun times, remember the bad times, remember…..
    Thanks for letting me be a small part of this communication. I may be older but I still have my computer skills!

  8. C-5, you make some good points. As for you being a part of this communication, you've more than earned the right to be right here. Hope you continue to drop in on us, you're one of us too.

  9. One of my experiences was the coast to coast first move we had while in the Navy. The moving van was broken into and we lost every single thing we owned, all our wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, memorabilia, pictures and furniture. We were shattered, especially because we lost the tapes of our daughter's first words forever. So be forewarned, anything that is precious to you and can not be replaced goes with you, not packed in your household shipment. Also have a list with you of everything you own. We only got a portion of value back in insurance money because the Navy depreciated many things even though they were only a few months old. Fortunately the rest of our Navy moves went smoother because we got wiser. But we had to learn the hard way.

  10. While it is wonderful to read so many stories of miltary families who are making this life work, I would like to share my story for those of you who may have experienced the ugly side of miltary service.
    I have two small children and was, until recently, married to a USMC officer. Despite his being sent on numerous unaccompanied tours to several overseas posts, leaving me to handle the household and raise our two girls completely on my own for the majority of thier lives over the last five years, I remained a totally supportive, devoted, and loving military spouse. As the daughter of a US Naval officer, I understood and accepted my role as a miltary spouse and the sacrifices this life intales.
    After nearly 2 years of separation, I was thrilled to discover that we would be able to join him on his next assignment in South America. We quickly packed up and rented out our house in the U.S. and moved PCS to Brazil.
    What was to be three years in a wonderful assignment with plenty of time to reconnect as a family turned into a nighmare within two weeks when I discovered that he had been unfaithful on multiple occasions, continuing to have affairs even after a arrived in country.
    Not only had he been having affairs with the local women in the two countries he was assigned to, but he had also advised his superiors that we were separated and in the process of divorce when he had arrived on assignment and had been carrying out these affairs publicly.
    I suppose that it most humiliating to discover that his superiors and co-workers knew all about these women and I had to find out what was going on piece by piece as I found love notes, phone numbers, spoke with the women myself, and followed other clues that he stupidly left behind.
    Because I had rented out my home in the states and made all the preparations to stay with him in this assignment for three years, I had no where to go and was forced to remain in country for 6 painful and tramatic months.
    Additionally, because my husband had lied initially about our marital status and relationship, telling everyone that my moving to Brazil was "one last attempt to make things work", I had no support from the military or the other spouses during this time. My children and I were totally isolated from the miliatry community and were often harrassed and threatened by my husband as a reaction to his guilty feelings until I finally had to ask for protection from the military.
    Although eventually some manner of the truth was finally revealed, no action was taken against him for his behavior. My family has been permenately broken by this experience and I am now struggling to raise my two girls cmpletely on my own, although for once I am grateful for this separation due to his overseas assignment.
    After all that my girls and I have been through we are better off without much contact with him and are moving on with our lives as best we can. I would like to offer my support to any other spouses who may have gone or are going through a simialr situation.
    Although it is often not discussed or acknowledged by the military, infidelity is very common within the military and it should not be something swept under the rug, leaving those of us in the situation feeling ashamed and alone.

  11. Erin, thank you for sharing your story. That can't be an easy thing to do. I believe that infidelity is often the "elephant in the room" in the military community. It's such a touchy issue that many don't want to have to think about it. Although, I think that a large percentage of milspouses have probably worried about it, or experienced it, at some point in their marriage. Whether the concerns are valid or not, this life we live often leads to committment issues. At least you know, in your heart of hearts, that you did everything that you possibly could to support your Marine. He made the wrong choices and will have to live with that the rest of his life. You're a wonderful example of what most of us milspouses strive to be; supportive, loving, and committed.

  12. I am so excited to find SpouseBUZZ! I am a Christian author writing an inspirational book for military families at a time when we all need (I say WE because I'm an Army Mom)a bit of encouragement and strength. "Secure the Fort" will be full of tid bits from military families, devotions I'm writing, poetry by military families, interesting facts, quotes, etc. I am extending a submissions request from any of you spouses who would like to contribute a story of how God has sustained you in the challenges of being a military wife during times of deployment. You can include poetry you've written, scriptures you cling to, or portions of letters from the field. 450 word max per submission to be considered. Please view my website for authenticity.. "Under God" page. I want this book to portray the fact that we as a nation still desires to remain "UNDER GOD!" Just ask any military family. :) We NEED HIM. Look forward to hearing from you….please email me at!

  13. Elliott'sgirl | November 10, 2006 at 9:21 pm |

    I have read tons and tons of your experiences and traumas, by the way I went through a bad c-section with my first son and received some brain damage so I don't spell too well, so please excuse the horribleness. Anywho. I can feel with just about everyone on every level. My husband has been gone too many times for me and goes again next year. He was injured, a nice slice in his head by a jet, don't ask, I am not exactly sure, housing problems, LOADS of them, unintelligent civi's, and countless screw-ups from finance and other incompentant people in high positions. But one thing I never see anyone well, complain I guess about is other military families and spouses, and shop cheifs or whoever your spouse may work under. I have never met so many terrible people in my life. Just because my husband is not an ass licker and won't get blamed for something he did not do he got knocked down from a tech to senior airman. Yeah, ouch! So women mainly think my husband and I are stupid, or trouble makers, or just not good enough. My husband outranked the highest guy in his shop, and he had been in only half as long. My husband works his butt off, can get stuff done quicker and done right better than anyone in his new shop. We have only been here a little less than a year. He is already better than most of the men that have been there 10 years, he knows his job and has nothing to show for it. So because my husband sticks up for himself and his family we always get the short end of the stick. And the women around here, well all the places we have been, 3 different in 4 1/2 years, I was always told the "elders" are always so helpfull and nice and caring, yeah about their image. The women I have been forced to meet are coniving, backstabbing, and ugly inside and out. If your husband makes less than hers, if you make more than hers, if your children aren't what they would like, my son happens to be the cutest curly red head with blue eyes ever, just ask anyone wherever we go, he gets free stuff all the time. Anyway, my son was way ahead of the curve with speech and development before my husband left for 5 months the first time, and when he returned our son quit talking completely. Now a year and a half later he is just now starting again. So my 3 year old talks like a 2 year old so they automatically asume he is stupid. My son can do everything better than their terrible and rude children except talk. So they talk about me so everyone one else gets a bad impression of me before they even meet us. The men are always cool except the let their wives run their lives because the are afraid of them. It is almost like highschool again except I am not the pretty popular cheerleader that gets along with everyone this time. I am now the large, poor, brain damaged, and yes, military doctor, girl that everyone knows as the wife of the trouble maker and mother of child with a very strong will, or as they see, stupid. Urgh!! It just makes moving and being demoted that much more difficult. But thanks for letting me vent my frustration a little. There is plenty more but I feel better now. I just wish I could find a sincere person who actually wants to help and not judge us by the rank on my husbands shirt, wether it be listen or baby sit so my husband and I can have a night out. That would be awsome. God Bless you all and I hope you never have to deal with anything that I have to suffer through because I love and support my husband.

  14. Hi everyone,
    I am new to military life. My husband is in Iraq. The closest installation to me is Ft. Hood. Even though my husbands's service is Navy, are services available to me at this army base? Are there any mil spouses on this blog that live in the Waco area?
    Is contact with others on this blog limited to the lines we write here? I would love to meet and or do stuff with other mil spouses especially if their husbands are deployed too.

  15. DEBBY NORTON | November 14, 2006 at 7:22 am |


  16. I am a military wife of 26 yrs. and now a military mother of a soldier and think this has been harder than being a wife because there's nothing worse than watching your son go off to war and knowing your husband was his recruiter, and watching your husband feel guilty as well

  17. I am a fairly new military wife of almost 3 years with 2 deployments behind my husband's belt. Ever since he has been back the first time he is a totally different person. He is mean, angry all the time and just wants to be alone all the time. He finally broke out of his shell and then had to redeploy Nov. 2005. We had a one week old son he had to say bye to and did not return until our son was 13 months old. Neither one of them know each other and my son is just terrified of him because my husband screams and disciplines him all the time. Our son is now 18 months old and we ended up getting stationed closer to our families. Well, we have been there for about a month now and things are HORRIBLE between us. I am a stay at home mom and when my husband gets home from work he is always angry…goes to our room without acknowledging my son nor myself…closes the door and either falls asleep or plays video games to the wee hours of the morning, sleeps and gets back up for work again. We just found out that we are having another baby and I packed up myself and my son and left to my mother's house. He is now threatening me advising me that he will take the children away from me because i have nothing. I havent even been able to see a doctor yet to be sure everything is okay becasuse he tells me he is removing me from tricare. I do not know what to do anymore. I am scared to death. i need to get prenatal care and I want out…I dont know what else to do or who I am supposed to talk to.

  18. Cheating is condoned by the military, I served a decade and was married to a female officer who had at least a dozen affairs with other married officers, no one cares. If an officer cannot keep their commitment to th eone person in the world they should, how can they be trusted?

  19. won't be fooled | January 25, 2008 at 12:44 am |

    MILHUSBAND is correct. Cheating is sometimes condoned. My spouse was in the middle east for a year,living "downtown" with 15 other American officers from various military branches(all men).I found a card in his belongings when he got back stating that "while we are here, we CAN have affairs, but we WILL cover for each other when spouses call, etc, and nobody will be a whistleblower". That's the honest to God truth. An Army 0-6 was in charge AND lived in the house with them, and condoned this behaviour.The men lived a life like they were in a frat house for a year, partying with flight attendants, teachers, etc. They provided the liquor (illegally in a muslim country) and the girls came in droves. My husband had an affair with a girl half his age from Ireland and decided he wanted to divorce me. When our family convinced him she was only after a one way ticket to the USA, he came to his senses and sent her a one way ticket back to Ireland. (she left him with a nice parting gift, an STD, which shows just how much she "loved" him). He almost lost everything, career, family, etc to a conniving little tramp. He did lose his self respect and has been dealing with that ever since. Boo hoo.
    SO, don't think that infidelity isn't a big part of military deployments, I believe that's why a lot of men/women volunteer to go multiple times.

  20. lazyness is not depr | March 7, 2008 at 5:21 am |

    I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 9 years and we have 3 children together. He has also been in the military for 9 years. He has been away from us for 18 months when he meet another women who is 3 ranks lower then him in the military. On thanksgiving he decided to tell me he's not happy that we shouldn't move with him then on Christmas eve one day after my 9 year anniversary which he didn't even call me on he decided to tell me he has meet someone else and he loves her and wants to be with her and he wants a devorce. This year that he was gone my father had cancer and then i ended up in the hospital and have a decease that i need meds everyday now and what am i suppose to do now that he decides to be a jerk and walk away from his sick wife and 3 kids. So i'm not so happy right now and i have his girlfriend sending me hate e-mails also. So i decided to turn them in i'm done being a door mat. Anyone with helpful advice it would help. I am already talking care of my children alone and he lives a state away. I have gotten my children and i mental help because he has done such a big thing in such a short time it hurt us all badly. And the fact that he let my children know about his girlfriend in 2 days when he got back is just sick to me. What makes this right that he has his carrer now took what ever he wanted from us and left and has issues sending me money because he says he's done supporting me i supported him just as much just not with a job all the time. And the funniest thing to me is how she is telling me she's not a rebound and that he has been unhappy with his marrage for years and that he was depressed for years because of our marriage. Well LAZINESS IS NOT DEPRESSION for those out there who think it is.

  21. lazyness is not depr | March 7, 2008 at 5:27 am |


  22. My wife is currently on deployment in Iraq. She is scheduled to return somtime In the year 2009. She has already been gone 6 months. I did two tours in Iraq, but was never married. Im haveing a hard time with this. My marrige is in trouble. Im not sure what to do. Anything help

  23. Im married to an WSO in the Air Force who is currently deployed. We are living Overseas. We have been married now for 5 years, this is our 3 assignment together. So far this year with the deployment and road show I have seen my husband a total of 5 weeks. Before we came to Lakenheath things were really good but now they have just fallen apart. The work temp here is crazy, he is never at work for less than 12 hours. Its usually a 16 hour day and on top of that he is either constantly in the gym or playing rugby or Hockey. Here is my problem, Im very independent I work for the British govt as an investigator and Im also working on my masters. I never planned on working and going to school at the same time but since he is never home I figured why not? Now that he is deployed Im happier. I know that is this terrible thing to say because I love him and we are a perfect couple but now that Im on my own again and the world is not constantly revolving around his schedule and when he has leave and so on and so forth I feel like myself again and I dont want him to come home from deployment because then everything will be all about him again. I sacraficed alot to be married to him but I never thought I would have to give up my identity and now that i found myself I dont want to lose it again. Our PCS date is looming and now that I have a great career not some fill in job while i wait for his retirement, a real job I dont want to have to give it up again to move for his next assignement. Ive had enough and for once I would like something to be about me. I will never ask him to retire or leave his job because it is what he loves. But now that I am doing what I love and what I went to school for why is it ok for him to make me give up what I love? I dont know what to do. Do I bite the bullet and seperate from the man I deeply love so I can continue to do what I love to do or do I again quit my job and start all over and stay at home for a yeah while looking for work yet again and just make his dinner and be miserable?

  24. Mel, I'm in the same situation as you. Every time when pcs is looming, the stress level gets higher due to the unknown: where will we live, where can I get employment that's suitable to my experiences and education, and many more other reasons. I had a great job at one point in time, my dream job, and gave it up bc we want to be together. It's a balancing act, and a very difficult one. We, spouses, sacrifice ourselves as much as the man or woman who serves. I'd always said to my husband that it's him that's serving not me. But the fact is that I am as well, indirectly served, when I decided to marry him. If my husband is content, he would likely give his country 100% or more of himself. Definitely, conflicts in personal life would be a distraction to his job. I love my husband very much; however, I also wanted to pursue my career. Currently, we decided that I will stay behind until he can get another order here again. Good luck Mel!
    Posted by: tastythaicooking | 10/03/2008 at 15:30

  25. Mom of Mom to Be | May 16, 2009 at 11:23 am |

    My daughter and her husband will be in England for the last 5 months of her first pregnancy. She can fly home in Sept for a baby shower, but how do you handle gifts and shipping to England? Any creative ideas out there?

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