|This is from the wife
of an active duty deployed SEAL.
We miss our husbands terribly when they’re
gone. And yet when they return it means a whole new set of adjustments
and challenges. SEALs are away from home on average 233 nights each
year, regardless of if they’re deployed or not. This means your husband
is home roughly 1/3 of your marriage. Looking at it in a different way,
he gets to be a part of 1/3 of your children’s lives, miss many birthdays,
holidays, anniversaries, perhaps even the birth of his own children.
This fact has some unique consequences
and leaves little room for grey area. For you and your spouse this arrangement
either works well or not at all and there isn’t much in between. The subtlety
that takes over in your home is this: It’s your house. He’s a guest. Everyone
knows it. He’s rarely home long enough to get into the rhythm of your family.
You develop your own way of caring for your family and home that he most
likely (does not) get into step with for the brief periods of time he’s
One of the truly odd things about this
arrangement is that life is easier for you both when they’re gone. This
isn’t a statement about your love and commitment. This is about the ease
of your life. Because you have developed your own way of running things
in your house it completely throws a wrench into your schedule when he
shows up for a week or two, give or take.
From his point of view, he’s likely
been staying in a hotel or a barracks, going out to eat with his cohorts
or grabbing some fast food at the end of a very long day. In any event,
he’s not had the interaction or demands of children, school and activities
schedules, housework, paying the bills... and well you get the point. They
don’t have to worry about the day to day needs of their families. That’s
what they count on you for.
Let us not forget, however, that many
times when they’re away doing what they do their days start at oh-dark-thirty
and go into the wee hours of the next morning. Only to start again before
the sun comes up. It’s not all room service and clean sheets.
In my own marriage my experience has
been this. If you, as a warrior wife, can tolerate the schedule and demands
of their careers, you stand the possibility of living a wonderful life
with a partner who values you for many things not the least of which is
the peace of mind you provide him knowing all is taken care of while he’s
out doing the work of our country. I consider it my duty to my family but
to my country as well.
When his home life is sound, he’s most
available for combat. As with most things, there is another side
of this story. Many women cannot tolerate this lifestyle. They thought
they could do it, maybe even dated through a deployment cycle or two. Then
got married and wanted a husband who would be home. It’s an easy trap to
fall into to make your husband wrong for being away so much when you’re
trying to have a life, a family and perhaps even a career. This choice,
to criticize your husband for being gone so much, has drastic consequences.
After all, you knew the deal going into
this. To steal a favorite line from a commanding officer I have come to
respect, “You buy the ticket. You get the show.” This is what you
signed on to.
The most powerful thing in our lives
is the conversation we have with ourselves about our lives. If you continually
say that you are left holding the bag because your husband is gone so much
and you’re left with all the responsibility for your family and that he’s
out playing then you’re never going to make it.