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Before marrying my husband and moving to the Naval Weapons Station in South Carolina, I was pretty much clueless when it came to what life would be like on a military base. Would there be security just to get on my own property? Bazookas going off in the middle of the night? Men with guns outside of my home?
It turns out, living on base (at least here in Goose Creek) is pretty much like suburbia anywhere: lots of nothing nearby, chain restaurants galore, houses that all look the same, etc. But since I’ve married into the Navy, I continue to come across the same bizarre misconceptions people have about military life.
1. “Isn’t there crazy military wife drama?”
Sure, some of the wives on base are bored out of their minds and have nothing better to do than start arguments on Facebook and peer into your house as they walk their six Chihuahuas down your block, but that’s what happens when your number one pastime is selling Scentsy or Mary Kay (I’m sorry, it’s a scam, and no, I don’t want to buy it) from your couch while counting down the seconds until your husband walks through the door.
So, no, we’re not clawing each others’ eyes out over who has the bigger house or gossiping about scandalous affairs, which by the way, don’t happen as frequently as the general public would like to think. It’s not even as interesting as an episode of "Army Wives."
2. “But your husband has shot people, right?”
My husband is a nuke. He is in school for 14 plus hours a day, learning how to run a nuclear power plant on an aircraft carrier. He’s surrounded by a bunch of other guys in their late teens or early twenties who obsess over Pokemon (like I-wear-Pikachu-T-shirts obsessed) and get caught picking their noses in the bathroom. There’s most likely never going to be a time in his career when he can use a butter knife to harm another human, let alone a gun. You’re right in thinking some military members do engage in combat, but don’t assume that all of them will or that it’s some sort of requirement when you sign up for the military. This isn’t "Lone Survivor," although, I do think my hubs is just as cute as Mark Wahlberg.
3. “I bet it’s so hard to make friends.”
Not really. Was it hard to leave all my best friends and family back in Philly and New York? Yes, definitely. Will I be moving around quite a bit? Probably. But it’s not like I have one week in a location before I’m off to the next state. Plus, military bases are pretty awesome when it comes to setting up resources for wives to meet one another. And people are just overall friendlier. I often meet new people just walking down the street on base.
I’ve never seen such a strong-knit community of women and men who genuinely want to help each other. You know how it can be super hard to get people to pitch in to help you move? Like, you’re probably going to have to order pizza for everyone and maybe throw a few bucks every which way hard? Well, here, if there’s a moving truck in your driveway, you’re most likely going to have 10 people knock up and offer to carry that super heavy couch even when it feels like 500 degrees outside. I’m pretty confident I’m going to make lifelong friends in the military no matter where I end up.
4. “How are you going to have a career, though?”
Uh, by networking and going on interviews and working like everyone else. There can certainly be more challenges when it comes to finding a steady job as a military spouse, but it’s by no means impossible, and if someone tells you it is, they’re probably looking for excuses. I’ll be driving almost two hours to graduate school three days a week for two years in order to get my degree while my husband finishes training. I’ll also be working part-time jobs, doing a graduate assistantship and contributing as much as I can. I don’t live off of my husband’s paycheck, and neither do a lot of wives here.
I know wives with successful home businesses and cool jobs downtown, wives who work as pastry chefs and TV producers and graphic designers. Do we have to start over several times? Yep. But it’s not impossible, and again, the military offers a lot of resources to make each move as smooth of a transition as possible.
5. “Military divorces are so common.”
I seriously want to snap every time someone tries to tell me military marriages are destined for divorce. I honestly don’t know where this myth started, but it’s complete BS, considering report after report shows military divorce rates aren’t any higher than civilian ones.
Military marriages go through deployments, incredibly long work days and often times mental health problems like PTSD, yet they still manage to last just as often as civilian ones. To me, that’s just another example of the resiliency and dedication that many military members showcase in every aspect of their lives.
6. “Military members are jingoistic, stupid and/or aggressive.”
Believe want you want about combat, wars, foreign policy, whatever. Chances are, I’ll agree with the most liberal of you, and so would my husband. You don’t have to support the policy to support your troops, and I know that’s cliché, but I’m always shocked at the amount of people with utter disregard for what military members give up for their country.
My husband is smart, kind, peaceful and caring. He also is brave and willing to make sacrifices so other people don’t have to. Is the military industrial complex alive and well? Of course. But that doesn’t mean my husband, who serving his country, is to fault.
I guess people are going to have their stereotypes, misconceptions and judgments about anyone’s way of life that’s even slightly different from their own. And I’ll probably eventually learn to just smile and nod along rather than waste my energy.
All in all, this whole being newly married thing is sometimes scary and definitely has its challenges. The military can make those challenges more prominent, especially when you throw in a few yearlong deployments, but in the end, my marriage isn't all that different from anybody else's.