Sorry for all the archived blogs recently. This is another post that I wrote in response to a Navy girl who was asking what to expect when her husband (and therefore she) got out. I figured this was a good place to archive this writing.
My husband (and therefore I) got out of the Navy this past January, and it has been a transition. Funny thing is, it’s been more one for me than for my husband. He knew he wasn’t reenlisting for a long time, including the whole two years we were together, so when the time finally came, he was glad to get out and move to our hometown. He found a job within a couple of months, and although it doesn’t pay what he was making in the Navy, and he doesn’t like it very much, it’s steady work and he’s thankful that he at least gets to come home every night. He’s on the lookout for another job, but in this economy he’s glad to have one at all.
For me it’s been a little harder. I never, ever, ever thought that I would say I missed the Navy life, with the separation and loneliness, but I do. I miss feeling like a part of something larger than myself, I miss feeling that by supporting him I’m helping him keep us safe, I miss the camaraderie of other navy significant others, and truthfully, I miss having time to myself.
During the first year we were together (including his deployment), I was in California living by myself. Once he came back, I moved to VA to be with him, but he was still in and out on underways and had duty nights. I really miss the designated time that I had to call my friends and catch up with everyone. I miss the quiet time to force myself to write blogs which I love to do but takes a lot of concentration and quiet time to think. And I miss those days when he finally came home after days away. One of my biggest fears has always been that I would lose my sense of appreciation for him. That I would forget what it was like to be without him for days and months at a time. And although I told myself that it would never happen, it’s so easy to get into the day to day swing of things and take things for granted.
So, my advise to anyone getting ready to get out is to start talking with your partner about it now. Communication is the most important thing. Be ready for the transition to be harder and more unexpected than you think it’s going to be. You could very well be surprised by how you and your partner react. Try your best not to take things personally. He’s been use to having time with his buddy during duty shifts and underways, and you’re use to having time to yourself or with your friends during those times too. It’s totally ok, for you guys to create some alone time, or time with friends. It’s not because he/she doesn’t love you and you don’t love them.
If you start missing that sense of meaning, then find it somewhere else. There are thousands of battered women’s shelters around the country that desperately need volunteer childcare workers in the evenings. There are hospitals that need volunteers to cheer up the patients, or consider getting involved with the local office of Operation Homefront. Wear your military gear with pride and keep your bumper stickers on your car. Be a cheerleader for troops and their families everywhere you go. I’ve been amazed at how many people have no idea what it’s like to be in a military family. I feel that it’s important that I share what I’ve experience so that people can have a more compassionate opinion and more respect for our troops and their families.
And never forget that any large transition is difficult! Graduating high school or college, getting married, moving to be with a loved one, and later in our lives we may be called upon to put our lives on hold to take care of an ailing family member. Don’t expect to let go of something that has been such a large part of your life without some time to grieve or at least transition. Be patient and understanding with each other.