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You buy the ticket. You get the show.
July 2009   Copied from a military forum.
(Details: names etc. omitted for security purposes)
Although written from the perspective of a SEAL's wife, I think it applies to all Military spouses.     Anyway - I liked it.
Sid Harrison
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 home. 

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.