Why didn’t you tell me that the military would turn me into a babbler? After all, the nice man behind the counter just wanted to know what had brought me to the area. I suddenly developed some kind of speech disorder “I’m, no, not me…we are, my husband and I…ummm. My husband is military, I mean…”
Unfortunately, I have found myself doing that verbal back and forth more times than I would like. There is a lot of new happening in my general vicinity, from being a new wife to living in a new place to being new to the military life. I am sitting smack in the middle of all that shiny newness, unsure about how to form basic introductory phrases.
I pause each time I make that type of remark because nothing ever feels accurate. I am not in the military. Yet, my husband is. The military is the reason that we live where we live, why my life is the way it is, and the underlying explanation to many of those basic get-to-know-you questions. And it just makes the simplest things so freaking complicated. Which is it? Is he…or can we be…who the heck is military?
The one solid fact I know is that I am not in the military. I have not sacrificed in the way that my husband and many others have. I have not signed on the dotted line and promised to serve. In spite of not being in the military, it is a main component of my life.
To not explain my educational situation or my lack of a career within a military spouse framework would provide only a partial impression. Yet, those are aspects of my individual life. They are my personal endeavors, but they have been unquestionably molded by my husband’s career. Each time I make a decision about furthering my education or my work or my future, I absolutely have to consider his training, his work, his future.
His commitment to the military is unbreakable. It was a promise he made in good faith with no doubts or hesitation. It simply cannot and will not be broken.
It is a commitment very similar to the one that we made to each other when we got married. Our marriage tied our lives together, as marriages are wont to do, and each of my decisions involves him. Putting his career before my own is practical. It is what we have to do now and so, it is what we do.
I cannot ignore his career choice simply because it is inconvenient to my aspirations. Plus, I love what he does. I would not want it to be any other way and I knew his line of work before we said our marriage vows.
I made each of the choices that have lead me to this moment. I did it, no one else. I do not want, in the course of one introductory phrase, to imply that I had no say in the matter. I do not want to give the impression that I am the worst connotation of dependent. Do I want to say that we are military, drop the preposition and stake a claim?
That is how it goes in my head when I babble at people, grasping for a way to articulate every component of such a tricky situation. Yes, my husband is in the military. Yes, the military has affected portions of my life. No, I do not want to imply that I get some kind of special military privilege. No, I cannot deny that I have made certain personal sacrifices because of our life.
Crap, what was the question again? What I am learning is that this life, where a partnership is concerned, impacts both parties. He and I are both a part of this, in it together for the long haul, as they say. Neither of us should be discounted or inflated, but rather, given the credit for exactly what we deserve. He is not alone in his military life, and I am not incapable of independence.
What that means is that I will now be saying, “I married a military man and our life is an adventure.”
Spencer Elliot graduated from Southwestern University with a degree in English. She calls Austin, Texas her home but is living in Florida with her Air Force husband at their first duty station. She is completing her first novel, working on a second degree, and ensuring that her tortoise, Winston, does not eat every vegetable in their garden.