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How being married to the military is different than civilian marriage

Military couples are no different from anyone else. We have weddings, honeymoons, children, expectations, goals and life issues like most.

Military husband and wife

However, a military marriage poses many challenges and differences than the average marital union.

Military wives are actually mistresses

There is a saying amongst military spouses that, “we are our husband’s mistress, and the military is his wife.” Although not a great comparison, it best describes how military relationships function. Time together is usually limited, and when the military calls our service members jump into action without a thought. Military spouses refer to “getting the leftovers” most of the time.

Plan ahead… what’s that?

Considering the military is the be-all and end-all of planning things out, you would think that planning your life around it would be easy. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. The fact is your vacations, annual gatherings and life events — and whether your spouse will be able to attend — are all subject to the needs of the military. Countless moms have given birth alone, attended their children’s high school graduation, or even a funeral for an immediate family member alone, thanks to the needs of Uncle Sam, and deployment or training schedules changing.

Unintentional non-communication

Like any relationship, a spouse wants to protect the person they’re married to. Sometimes we avoid telling each other things to avoid worry. In military marriages, this happens frequently with so many service members serving overseas in a combat zone. Military spouses usually just accept that they may not ever fully know what their spouse faces and deals with on a daily basis.

It’s been a year since I last saw you

People marry the person they love so that they can spend their life together and be with each other daily. I married my husband for those reasons, except the first time he deployed he was gone for 15 months (455 days) and of that I only spent 13 days with him. Some military spouses are offended when a civilian spouse suggests how hard a time she is having, because her husband went on a week-long business trip. I venture to say when you miss someone you just miss them no matter the length of time they are gone. Yet keeping the flames burning and a marriage going can be challenging when a year-long business trip interferes.

Instability for the family

It’s one thing to move whenever you want and wherever you want as a couple. It’s a different experience for a family moving hundreds of thousands of miles away every three to four years. The majority of military couples embrace the idea of moving to new places and exploring unknown cultures. However for many, this lifestyle can take a huge toll on their marriage and family.

Fear of the unknown

Death is something we all fear. No one wants to think about losing their husband or wife — or anyone close for that matter. Unfortunately, when it comes to being married to the military it seems as if the unknown is placed in our eyesight more frequently. It’s a hard sight for any person to see a service member killed in action or from complications of war, but it’s even harder when you know your spouse is in a combat zone or is suffering from the after-effects of combat. It can be downright stressful — both for spouses and for children.

More about military families

7 Things every military family should know about living on base
What Army Wives gets wrong about real military wives
Moms with a cause: Advocating for military kids worldwide

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