To the Young Military Wife 

Your friends were a little surprised when you got that ring – the one he bought at the PX at a serious discount, chose with the help of a clerk in a vest and a weary smile. You heard how young you were, how hard it would be, but you got approval and admiration nonetheless because you were doing something noble. You were joining the ranks of military families.

Maybe you don’t feel so noble now in the brick house with hard tile floors and the Wal Mart printed wedding photos hanging on your walls with thumbtacks. You can still fit into those middle school jeans, but they feel a little out of place now. Your freshly pressed Dependant ID gains you access to a base you cannot imagine calling home. And maybe you wonder what you’ve done, where you are. As the light fades over unfamiliar landmarks you miss your bed and your friends and the nightly routine with that toothpaste your mom buys. You feel messy and out of place among the too-short grass and the squared away formations.

Go buy that toothpaste, sweet one, because you are in a new land. And this one is particularly foreign. You will navigate waters in your first year of marriage that civilian marriages never tread. You will fill out Last Wills and Power of Attorneys and you’ll cry into his shoulder as you sign your new name awkwardly for the notary. You will wait up late to hear nothing of his day full of secret training missions and exhausting field exercises. You will be woken up at night by bombs that remind you where he is going when he gets on that bus. You will have to forge your marriage bond with the demands of his commitment to the military and that will necessitate a new kind of patience. For where other wives can rightly stake their claim as top priority (and you will try) you can’t. Your vows come second to the ones he made to Lady Liberty and when she calls, he leaves. Every time. You will struggle to accept this and maybe he will, too.

And when he first goes to war you will cry. You will feel like half a person for a while. And you might go a little crazy – might take a job at 4am to keep busy or sit crumpled on a couch during a bible study you only joined because you didn’t want to be alone every night. You might cry over popcorn at a comedy while you sit alone in a mall theater. You might feel like a mess because you might actually be a mess, but can I tell you something, lovely wreck? It will be okay. 

I don’t know how for you. I don’t know what he will bring home from the desert or what you will have picked up in his abscence. I don’t know how many times you will wave goodbye to a C17 or hold posters with innuendo in your best heels in a hanger. But I know it will be okay. And the weight of all of it won’t seem so heavy and the man you fell in love with outside the gate is still that man inside the gate despite the uniform. 

Missing home is normal, but someday you’ll have memories of this time, too and you’ll be amazed how far you’ve come. You’ll be impressed with yourself for getting through this. You’ll appreciate that you are doing something hard and it isn’t noble because it’s for your country, it’s noble because it’s for each other. And no one can touch this – no one can diminish the hurdles and the bruises and the way you will learn to fight for each other like they can’t teach him in BCT. 

So go to the Commisary (but not on payday) and get your TV dinner, take a bath and stream your favorite show and for tonight just be alright feeling like your skin doesn’t fit. It will, I promise. In the meantime, buy the toothpaste.

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