Once Upon A time I had a college degree. I had a respectable job where people counted on me and allowed me to travel the globe. I chose when and where I went and I made a comfortable amount of money doing so.
Then, as if in a Hemingway novel, I traveled from the far corners of Africa to small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. BAM, I met the man who would become my partner-in-crime for life. Naively thinking I could carry on my career AND marry a Marine, I said YES to the proposal which my husband and I deem “our great adventure.”
This worked out for … oh, one tour. Then the Corps stepped in and we found ourselves with orders in hand to Parris Island. The campaign cover was about to be a permanent fixture on my husband’s head.
This is where what I call the art — and it is an art to be developed — of compromise came in. As my career would never converge with his duty stations, the career thing would be a choice between mine or his. After 11 years of independence, I chose love over the continued climb up the GS ladder. It was and has continued to be painful to be rendered impotent after making decisions for a multi-currency budget, handling security, my own weapons, vehicles, flights, etc. in a foreign country.
These days I sometimes run into not even being allowed to speak on behalf of my husband regarding OUR accounts which I manage while he is deployed. The conversation usually goes like this: “Yes, I have a power of attorney. I’ve sent you a scanned a copy prior to our previous conversation. Can you check again please.” Imagine me saying this next part as kindly as I can and without a hint of sarcasm: “It might be a good idea to keep them on file, at least for the length of the deployment or until they expire as I’m sure you will only be dealing with me again.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life as a military spouse, I wouldn’t trade any part of it. (Well, maybe the deployments, I could do without those as I actually LIKE my husband around and judging by the amount of time he spends at home, I think he’s happy too.) But as with everything in life, it is what you make of it. My compromise was giving up a fantastic career to follow my husband and support him to excel at his, raise our children, make a comfortable home, volunteer and work within our community wherever we are planted. I still have a college degree, but am now pursuing additional education for our retirement years with the gift of his Post 9/11 GI benefits. This lends to a portable career in “our” retirement as some remuneration for the sacrifice made so long ago. Although I’ve been so richly blessed as a Marine Corps wife, it doesn’t feel like a compromise at all.
As a seasoned Marine spouse, I’ve chosen to consider each PCS as an adventure. However, buying our house near Camp Lejeune, NC while stationed in Okinawa, Japan WITH my husband deployed for 13-months at the time to Afghanistan AND going back to school … well that made a large dent in the Well of Sanity. Happily, with sanity restored, 15 chickens, three goats, a dog, one thoroughly gutted and sold house, two kids and three deployments later, we are awaiting orders for our next great adventure. My name is Dana Grigsby and I’m a typical military spouse.
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