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  • Real Talk: Military Marriage After the First 5 Years

    Real Talk: Military Marriage After the First 5 Years

    Well, this has been a ride, let me tell you. The second deployment in 3 years almost tested me beyond whatever I ever thought I’d feel with this man. The truth is, we are so in love with each other, but even that can’t fix the elements of the military that you cannot prepare for.

    4 homes in 3 years, 2 deployments later, yeah it gets to be a struggle between you and your own home to a home he comes home to. He has tendencies just as much as I do, like that I can’t cook in a dirty kitchen. I also don’t cook for myself when he’s gone. I LOVE to cook, I always have, but I eat so little and try to save as much money as I can when I don’t have to feed the tank so that we can boost our savings.

    Adjust, adjust, and then adjust again, only to then get ready to adjust.

    Many of us can relate to how we have to get used to having our loved one gone and create our own space only to re-configure our own place when they get back. It’s the roller coaster of missing them and the sign up to be in love but also alone, because it’s for the loves of our lives. When civilian families say to us, “You knew what you were getting into” I always laugh, “That’s like buying car insurance and knowing how to feel in a car accident.”

    There is no manual for this, we just take it on one day at a time.

    Let’s add a cross-country move into our first 3 years; no one sent me the memo on work-ups and field-ops. We came from DC, where a day in the field meant they were still home for dinner. I look back at that girl and want to smack her for being mad they had a “long day of work.” I am so incredibly proud to say my husband was able to serve our fallen, and this introduced me to so many amazing, decorated military members and supporters. I had no idea that “the fleet” was a thing nor even existed, boy was I in for a shock.

    The day he checked into Camp Pendleton, he was gone. You should have seen his face when he walked in the door petrified and said, “I am leaving.” I was like, OK I can handle our first time apart for a few days in a new place where GPS doesn’t work in a huge F150, no big deal. He then hesitantly responded that it would be a few weeks. I put on my PJs, curled up in a ball, and ate crackers for a week.

    I look back at that girl and laugh. I would tell that girl, oh honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    Fast forward to moving us out of the E3 neighborhood where I had to keep my door locked because the youngins would get so drunk they would accidentally think your home was theirs and oh yes, the joy of a community laundry room. Fun. But hey, 600 bucks back a month and only me and the dog? Worth it. My husband is 10 years younger than I, so college towns and craziness in my 30’s just to get money back became increasingly intolerable. I got to the point where, I thought, I am too damn old for this…and it became motivation to move during a deployment.

    So I moved us to what I can now say is the most amazing neighborhood and has the most incredible people!

    Real Talk: Military Marriage After the First 5 Years

    Now enter present day, new MOS (or job),

    We are being a married couple living together for the first time in 5 years.

    I know some of you are sighing being able to relate to your own journey too. Do some of these things sound familiar? Wow, you’re like, here? All I ever wanted was for you to be home and now, you’re here?

    At first it’s always honeymoon season, every deployment, every work up, you essentially live in honeymoon season. It’s not that we get to a point where we want you to leave but man does your entire life change. I’ll admit, I enjoy my sun dresses and my freedom to plan, but my husband and I also have a one car home, so planning? The Marines “hurry up and wait” makes it kind of hard for a fundraising non-profit Founder like myself. It’s not that it can’t be done, I just have to wait for goal items which becomes harder as time goes on.

    As a business owner, I plan each and every year out with what I want to accomplish, who I want to hire, which programs I want to launch and when. Clothes, dishes and the search for where he put that thing that’s so important has also become a thing. Also keeping his stuff straight has been well, an adjustment.

    We’ve grown over a half a decade as all humans do and now for the first time we are learning each other in our new form. I love that man, but after living in the field for so many years, sometimes even his tone after work needs a reminder to take it down a notch. “I can hear you, I am right here.” Meal prep for the week, shopping for meal prep for the week, coupon to meal prep for the week and he wants to go with you to coupon and meal prep for the week. I love that he wants to help, I truly do but…we have it down to an art.

    Field day! Love cleaning with you, in fact I love how detail-oriented you are. You guys get a high five for that one. I will however have to find all of the cleaning supplies that you randomly stashed somewhere to never be found unless I’m on a ninja mission. Hence the reason we have 5 of everything. Never buy expensive containers, it’s a waste of money. Thank you, Ziploc! Oh hey baby, yes I’d love to open that container after sitting in your bag all day just to save this container.

    P.S: It’s not from that day, it’s always a few days later.

    My reaction is always priceless when he’s so excited he got MORE cammis. The house has already exploded with uniforms and gear but hey! It’s from the Singaporeans! While we have been making it work, sometimes you just want to take a nap and drink wine and say, “I will adult next week,” but you can’t.

    Now that we are learning this new and ever growing habitual life I wanted to write this to share my thoughts on how “normal” THIS life is. I often ask myself, “will it become unpredictable in the old way again? Or will it be more normal than my new normal when he deploys again?” I always wonder if it will be that adjustment in the next 3 years where I become that girl in DC that I wanted to smack. You have him here right? BE HAPPY. Also, keep wine nearby at all times.

    All jokes aside, I am very in love with my gorgeous husband and I love having help around the house, especially when I have to go on a search for most of it. I think we all go through this and I am always happy to share my stories because it’s life. Life is tough no matter how you box it up and present it to others. The great news is we have each other and we’ve got this. Stay strong ya’all, God knows if I can do it, you can do it.

    Also, if you need a PJ night, I’m always here even if we have to do the girl dance with hairbrushes via Skype.

    Cassandra Bratcher
    This article is written by Cassandra Bratcher. She founded the international non-profit United Military Significant others, Inc. to combat isolation and cyber bullying within the the significant other community to get people to connect in person again through events and programs. She supports girlfriends, boyfriends, fiance’s and spouses for every branch of our military all over the world. Her background stems from doing IT sales on Capital Hill for over a decade before marrying her active duty Marine and launching UMSO.

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