I was sitting here with my coffee cup doing what I do every morning, reading the news, browsing blogs etc, when an article from the NY Daily News caught my attention. Mind you, it's not new, it's from November of 2009, but it still made me stop in my tracks.
It reads "Military Marriage divorce rate increases in 2009".
"Every marriage has controllable and uncontrollable factors," Davis said. "But when you interject eight years of war, preparing for war, being at war, coming home and having to think about going back to war again — and when you have children — it just has a tremendous impact on the family unit."
I'm a military wife, it's a known fact that divorce among military families is high, it's not a secret, it's not a shock, it just is, unfortunately.
But reading this article made me stop and think about my own marriage and the struggles and hurdles we've faced along the years. We have been married for 11 years, going on 12 in August and I can tell you that it hasn't been easy.
To say that I had no idea what I was getting into when we first exchanged vows, would be an understatement, sure my husband told me about the deployments and the long hours and the commitment to the military, they come first, always. But it's one thing to hear these things and quite another to actually live it.
We had our ups and downs and I'm going to be completely open here and maybe even shock some of my family members with the truth that we did come very close to a divorce.
A marriage is comprised of two people, two human beings trying their hardest to support each other, to learn to co-exist with habits and quirky little mundane things that at first seem nothing but left to fester, can turn into huge unsurpassable mountains.
There is a huge strain that goes into a military marriage, I can tell you that to this day, I sometimes feel like I'm a single mother with no help whatsoever, and I'm not blaming my husband, I blame the circumstances around us and the life that we lead, because as rewarding as it is and as much as I feel that we as a family unit are contributing to something worthwhile, I also feel that the same family unit is neglected by the Military.
Often times in the heat of an argument I have told my husband that he needs to realize and remember that when the military life is gone, it is US, our family that will remain. That when something goes wrong in life, that when a family member passes or an illness takes us by surprise, it's not the military that steps in and comforts him, it's me, it's his children, it's the same people who are so often forgotten and taken for granted.
We went through some very rough patches, mostly around the first 3 years of marriage, it was a push and pull, a constant fight for control. In a way it was as if I was rebelling against the military life, I hated it, I wanted it to end, I wanted to be heard and I wanted to feel like I mattered.
I wanted the military to say something, to reach out and comfort me, to for once put aside their need for the jets to be fixed on a weekend when they're not even flying, to stop taking my husband away from me and the kids, to stop canceling our plans, to stop interfering with vacations, to stop calling when he's on leave because they can't seem to find this or fix that.
I was at the breaking point, I was dealing with all these stresses, I was going through two miscarriages and I was sitting at home, broken, alone, depressed and heart broken, without a driver's licence, depending on other military wives for rides to the commissary to get groceries for me and my two year old.
I blamed him, I blamed the military, I blamed myself "how could I have been so stupid, what was I thinking moving thousands of miles away from my family, from my support system to come to a new country where I would be alone for months on end?".
It was rough and I took it out on him and he took it out on me, and I don't need to divulge all the intimate details of our life, but we came to a point where we both said "enough, we need to stop this and go our separate ways". It came to a halt when I actually removed my wedding rings and threw it across the room at him. Yes, I did, I admit it and I'm not proud of it, but I think everyone can relate to that one point in time where you just explode and can't take it anymore.
But that was also the turning point. I realized that I needed to stop trying to change him, I had no idea the toll that my harsh words and actions were taking on him. From my perspective I was the only one in pain, I was the only one suffering and upset at the lack of family time and alone time, I didn't even stop to think that maybe, just maybe he was feeling the same if not more than I.
It's so easy to break the trust, to fall into someone else's arms when your husband is deployed. You miss him, you miss the closeness, you miss having someone around and if you're not careful and not strong in your marriage, if you see someone else that is willing to give you that emotional and physical comfort, it's easy to take it. Thankfully neither Curt nor I have ever done that, yes separations are excruciating but we hold on to the love we have for one another and count down the days until we are safe in each others arms.
It's been a long journey but we both sat down and expressed our feelings and emotions, it wasn't pretty, I heard a lot of things I didn't want to hear, me, the perfect little housewife was not exactly that perfect, I had my flaws and when I heard from his perspective what I was doing to him by means of words, it sunk in that I was playing a huge part in the decimation of our marriage.
We've both learned to not take each other for granted, we work hard at our marriage and we've also given up the control to God. We've stumbled across the way, we had to learn to forgive, we had to learn to restore the trust that was close to breaking permanently, but mostly, we had to learn to be open, to communicate and to realize that just because we may not like something that is happening around us, we do not have the right to take it out on each other.
We hit rock bottom, but we stood back up, brushed ourselves off and vowed to recommit to our family, to each other.
We don't have a perfect marriage, but for the past 7 years we've come to a place of understanding, of loving, of knowing that no matter what the military may throw our way, or what life may drop at our feet, we are strong, we love each other and we can get through anything.
I'm blessed, I'm extremely blessed to have such a wonderful man for a husband. A man that walks in through the door at 2am or 3am, drops his keys and walks into our bedroom, to kiss me, to tell me he's home, to tell me he loves me.....jet fuel laced hands and all. A man who then quietly walks into his childrens rooms and plants a kiss on their sweet sleeping faces.
A man who not only has to deal with all the worries and frustrations that I as a military wife do, but double that because he's a soldier, he knows what his duty is, he knows what he sacrifices daily and he doesn't like being taken from his family to a place of war thousands of miles away. We may think we have it hard at home, but just stop for a second and think about them and the struggles they face daily, they are men, they want to be home, they want to be taking care of their family and be there to fix things and they can't. It's not easy!
So in closing this post, I just want to tell you all out there, military families or not, that when things seem to be at a breaking point and when there seems to be no way out, breathe. Stop.....calm down.....think!
If you love each other, keep God in your relationship and life and never give up, it will get better. I'm sending out hugs and prayers to you all, to any military wife AND husband that may be feeling that there's no way out but divorce, to any wife and husband PERIOD, who feel stuck in a hard place, who feel they can't go on. I'm praying for you!