Sunday, February 17, 2013

Being a Military Fiance

I have scoured the Internet looking for women who are in the same position as me who also blog their experiences but it's hard to find an unmarried, child-less military couple. I rarely see them, rarely hear about them.
Being a military fiance could really suck. Unless you've claimed common-law you're in that weird stage between being a girlfriend, where people don't know how committed you are to the military life, and being a wife, where people are sure you're committed and they salute you for being super strong and keeping with it. Even as a fiance, whose claimed common-law status I am judged on a regular basis. I'll ask about my benefits or something like that (which as a common-law spouse I am entitled to) and I get the same run-around every time. "Well, if you're just engaged that doesn't mean you get benefits, you have to be married or common-law." Uhm, JUST engaged? Do people realize how HARD it was to say "yes"? Do you have any idea how much STRENGTH it took to stay with him when he decided to join the military? How many times I considered just telling him I couldn't do it because sometimes you think it'll be easier to just go through a breakup than to go through living apart, the courses, the deployment, the fear that he'll die? Yes, I'm JUST engaged but I didn't meet him while he was in the military, I met him as a civilian and I decided to stay with him and consider him a civilian, separate ourselves as much as possible from the military and do our best to make it through the hard stuff.
People say they envy me for being able to do what I do and that they could never do it. What's there to envy? Here, I'm going to share with you the average things I go through and do in a month with my fiance away from me.

- crying to the point where I nearly throw up every time we say goodbye
- not knowing what's going on with the paperwork I need him to fill out (I've been waiting 3 months for him to APPLY for a PMQ, let alone the approval)
- worrying that he'll get lonely, too lonely (yes, sometimes I have moments where I'm insecure, so sue me)
- being busy as all hell, even without a full time job just because if I'm not I cry
- feeling terrible and guilty anytime we fight because I'm not sure when I'll talk to him again
- not being able to talk to him because he has NO cell phone service
- trying to plan a wedding pretty well by myself
- living with my parents (don't even get me started)
- having to lock my cat in my bedroom otherwise she'll be eaten by one of the dogs
- being penalized because I did something I wasn't supposed to do, even though I didn't know I wasn't supposed to do it (we have to pay for our posting because I moved 2hrs away from the place they THOUGHT I was living without telling them)
- having him be responsible for EVERYTHING I do..... military spouses have NO independence, we are their property too
- having to listen to girls pout because they have to be away from their partner for a week (or worse, sometimes I see girls freak out over a night) ..... I'm sorry, but give me a break
- high-school style cliques within the military wives community (luckily I haven't surrendered myself to an individual group, just like high-school if I like someone I talk to and hang out with them, if I don't, I don't)
- having to make EVERY decision on my own if I can't reach him
- having to do ALL the chores, and ALL the errands on my own (this especially sucks if it is something HE should have taken care of before he left, but didn't)
- going through rough shit by yourself, the things he would normally support you through he can't be there for
- grocery shopping by yourself (the little things you did together become weird when you have to do them by yourself)
- cooking (I could cook before but I hated it with a passion, now I have to do it on a regular basis....)

As you can see, even as a military fiance, with no children, it sucks, and it's nothing to envy, and I really don't want people to envy me. I want people to look at their own relationships and realize how lucky they are to spend every day with their spouse, have the OPTION to spend time apart and not have it be a mandatory part of your life. No, two people aren't meant to spend every hour of every day together, it drives you crazy but having the choice to say "I just need some time to myself right now" is a blessing many, many people take for granted. It has become a pet peeve of mine when women complain about their husband being around, because, at least he's around. If you don't want him around, you shouldn't be with him. Simple as that.
There are some good points to being a military spouse. Some wives complain about some of the points I'm going to mention. However, in many areas I see NO reason to complain about these things and every reason to complain about the aforementioned things.

- the pay, it's good. you're by no means a millionaire but you know you have a stable income coming in and if you plan things right you should need no more than that income. for example we could pay for our PMQ, our car payments, our car insurance, our utilities, our Internet, our cell phone bills, our credit card bills, his student loan and our little extras with his income alone. Most 20-23 year olds can't say that
- the benefits, they're great. this is one of the things I hear women complaining about, along with the pay and I'm like "uhm, excuse me? do you have any idea how many people don't have benefits period?" I'm lucky that I can get my wisdom teeth removed and probably only put out about $100, and I'm lucky that if I ever get admitted to the hospital I get my own private room instead of having to share one with a sick old lady that screams all the time
- it does make your relationship stronger. many aspects of mine and James' relationship have grown exponentially since he joined.
- cheap, awesome housing. where else can you get a 3 bedroom house for $700/m? uhm, nowhere.
- he gets an awesome pension. yes. after 25 years he can retire and get a pension.
- him being away gives me motivation to meet my goals. I feel like it's important for me to impress him when he comes home again (like this weekend, I showed off my new bum!)
- holidays, lots and lots of holidays! he has 20 paid vacation days and sometimes they'll let you use a few of them as a sort of bonus bundle. for example, he got 3 (PAID!) weeks off at Christmas and only had to use something like 6 of his vacation days, he gets a whole week off in march and only had to use 3 vacation days.
- they pay you to move. when you're posted not only do your moving expenses get paid (the truck to move, packing etc) you also get hotel money if you have to wait for your stuff, you get food money, and you get money to buy new stuff should you need it
- if you need to move he gets 2 weeks off. one week to go home and pack, one week to unpack *whoop whoop*

So, it's not ALL bad, the bad stuff just makes the good stuff bittersweet. I can't say I like the military. I can tolerate the military as a career but as I've mentioned before I don't want it to be our lives. I realize it's hard to escape but I try to keep him from talking about work when he's at home and I don't want his work to affect what he does at home. For example, when he came back from his first five weeks at BMQ (basic military qualification) and started TELLING me to do things instead of ASKING me to do things I had to put a stop to it, right away. I am not one of his platoon mates, he his not my platoon leader and he will not talk to me that way. Occasionally it happens, it just has to be talked over.