Being an army spouse or partner isn’t the easiest thing in the world. You tend to spend more time apart than together. It’s a weird and sometimes wonderful world like no other. You love them so you take the bad and celebrate the good. There are just somethings that you have to deal with and there are some wonderful high points.
1. “You knew what you were getting into.”
So often said. Especially when my fella was away for a long period of time and I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Yes I did know what I was getting into… but I can still miss him thank you, and sometimes I’ll mope at home in my PJs others I’ll get on with life. It’s okay to miss him. My favourite is when this is followed by “but he’s not at war though”. Yep I am aware of that but he’s still away and I haven’t been able to talk to him so I can miss him. Telling someone they knew what they were getting into when they miss their soldier is like telling someone they knew what they were getting in to when they complain the sea is cold after taking a dip. This is where you need a really good best friend who will listen to you whinge without judgment (I thankfully have one of them).
2. Sometimes it’s like a Boys’ Club.
I’m used to being the only girl in the mess sometimes and yes they can act like a bunch of teenage boys who only want to do what they want to do and will egg their buddies on. Many nights I’ve seen the lads do their best to get one another to disobey their wives or girlfriends (who aren’t present) often resulting in a trip to the nearest town to drink themselves silly. If a soldier say he isn’t coming to the mess it’s often swiftly blamed on the wife/girlfriend. I now just take the blame even when it’s the hubby who wants a night in.
3. You spend half your time waiting.
Waiting for them to come home, waiting for them to find out where and when they are going next, waiting for a text, waiting for a phone call, waiting (reluctantly) for them to go. But they always make the wait worth it. I can remember times when his return date was changed so many times I only believed he was back when he arrived on my door step.
4. Soldiers throw the best parties.
I love a mess do, lots of drink, food and brilliant people. All the best nights have been in a mess or with soldiers and their wives.
5. Your first time on base is a little intimidating.
You get used to it. It becomes normality to stop at a guard room. Now I have to stop at the guard room to get to my house! Whenever I talk to “new” girlfriends I try to stress that you do get used to it.
6. Your calendar is a mess.
Appointments and social events pencilled in, penned in, crossed out, penned back in and scribbled out in frustration. People will never understand your inability to commit to an event. I need to find out what my husbands is doing first and the army don’t care if you’re getting married or it’s your birthday so unfortunately you will have to wait for me to get back to you. He’s on course he’s off course, he’s here, off there, return date not yet determined. I won’t lie until we got married I would cancel social events because he was on his way home and I didn’t know when I would see him next. We once had to come back from our holiday two days early as he had to fly out to Germany. Again this is where you need a really understanding best friend, “I’m going to have to cancel lunch I might be getting on a train to Wales if he is back in time”; some people just don’t understand why you would do that. You can never book things in advance because sods law is that he will be going away that day.
7. You both travel miles and miles for hardly any time together.
More than once I’ve got on a train and travelled between 7 and 10 hours (once 12) for just a few days. Or he’s been traveling back and stopped off for a fly by kiss and cuddle before heading back to camp. I can honestly say every minute of travel is worth every second together. However brief the time we get I will always make the effort.
8. I went from 2 army friends to millions.
Well not millions but a lot of people I know are military. And the biggest employer of army wives seems to be army bases so you end up with work colleagues who are also army wives.
9. The mess ruins pubs.
When a gin and tonic is £1.50 in the mess who wants to spend 6 quid on one in the pub?? I now look at the poor barman as though he’s told a joke.
10. They look awfully cute in uniform and very dapper in mess dress.
Its cliché but true.
11. You love them.
I always say I love the passion my husband shows for his job but most importantly I love him. So no matter what the army and army life throw at us we are ready.