Monday, May 21, 2007


Military Spouses Should Come with a Warning Label
By Sarah Smiley

If I could rewrite my military man's marriage proposal to me, making it more fair and forewarning, this what I would have had him say:

My dear Sarah -- dear, sweet, perfect, wonderful Sarah -- would you do the honor of being my wife and sharing your life with me?

But wait, before you answer, let me tell you a little about the job. First of all, I am a Navy pilot and I move often. We will have very little control over when or where we go, and sometimes we will be told we are moving one place, only to find out at the last minute we are going somewhere else. Are you good with flexibility? Can you pack and unpack quickly?

There will be times you have to handle our moves by yourself because I go out to sea for six months at a time. Now, judging by your reaction to this, I won't go into detail about the additional months I'll spend on detachments and assignments because I really want you to say 'yes' today. Are you a sentimental person at all, Sarah? I'll probably miss a lot of Christmases, birthdays and anniversaries. But we can always celebrate when I get back, and I'll be sure to call you from the boat on Valentine's Day. (Keep in mind, however, that calls from the ship are expensive, so we'll have to keep it short.) Oh, and don't count on me being there when you have our babies either.

How good are you with home repairs and handling crises? Since I will be gone 60% of our life, you will be responsible for fixing toilets, fertilizing the lawn, and dealing with hurricanes, tornadoes, and any
other natural disaster that comes your way.

You will also be responsible for coming up with new and inventive ways to remove the smell of JP5 (jet fuel) from the clothes I bring home from the boat, and you will spend a lot of time washing and drying dingy flight suits as well.

How quick are you with the iron, and can you hem pants? There will be times I forget to tell you I need my uniform for certain events, and
at the last minute I will depend on you to pick it up from the cleaners. Are you good at finding lost covers (military hats), belts, and uniform T-shirts?

Are you attached to your career plans at all? It may be hard for you
to build a career as we move from place to place. And are you a worrier? My job is dangerous, and when I'm on deployment you might not hear from me for long stretches at a time. Sometimes I may not be able to tell you where I am at all. You will need to handle these situations with grace and dignity and try to go on with your normal life without crying every time you see someone else's husband coming home daily for dinner. Try not to dwell on the magnitude of my job or the commitment I have made to the country. I am at the mercy of my command, and though I will treasure you and our family above all things, at times it will seem like I am married to the Navy and that I spend more time on the boat than I do at home. But you will get used to the feeling of being alone. Trust me.

Lastly let me say this: Through our time and travels with the Navy you will meet some of the best friends of your life, and you will see and do things you never thought possible. You will join the ranks of all other military spouses who are some of the strongest women in the world. You will have the personal satisfaction that as my wife you have made enormous sacrifices (with little reward or commendation), but you have helped me to serve our country and protect its freedom. For that, I (and others) will always be grateful.

So if all of this sounds good to you, I'll need your answer soon; I have to report to duty in ten minutes. Oh, and can you plan a quick wedding?

We'll be moving next month. And Sarah, Don't say I didn't warn you."

Copyright Sarah Smiley. All rights reserved.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy
-How to decode Military Jargon
-Wife's Comments lead to new call sign

Thank you Sarah for your humor and for the encouragement you bring to so many military wives.


Alycia said...

Thank you so much for sharing this ~ I loved it! How true these things are. I used to tell my husband that I knew I was "marrying into" the Marine Corps but had no idea what this actually meant until day to day living began. I am so happy to have found your blog and other military spouse blogs. Thank you and I look forward to coming back! Have a great day!

Kate said...

From what I understand, that's really how it is. Char I applaud you for the every day sacrifices you make as well. :)