01 February 2010

Let's ruffle some feathers!

"Some people aren't cut out for this military lifestyle."

I've heard that statement, or a derivation thereof, a million times. And I'll likely hear it a million more. The thing is... I just don't get it. I don't buy it and I don't know that I ever will. But let me tell you why before you cite the girl(s) you know and the yadda, yadda, yadda- we all know that girl and we all have heard the horror stories. Swiss lived the horror story last deployment. I'm not contending that there aren't folks who "can't hack it". I'm contending that they are choosing not to hack it and not because they don't possess some special superpower the rest of us apparently have. (BTW- if the superpower thing is true, I want to know why I didn't get issued a cape when we got married.)

Here's my point: What we do isn't really anything special. We take what life and our spouse's employer and our own personal choices hand us and do our best. We act like grown ups and take responsibility, accountability, and we get pro-active. We choose to make it work- our marriages, our life, our careers, our situation, our families. We focus on the good. We act like adults. In some ways, it isn't any different than dealing with other personal circumstances... sick children, ill parent, losing a job, you name it... you choose do the best you can with the cards you are dealt because that is what adults do. You don't get a do over. You don't get to sit this one out. You don't get to say "I don't want to". It is your life and you put on your big girl panties and just DO IT. People do it all day, every day. And you don't hear people say "Some people just aren't cut out for having a sick kid" do you?

Of COURSE there are people who are, for lack of a better word, failures as MilSpouses. But it isn't because they aren't "cut out" for it. I don't even know that that means... is there a prototypical MilSpouse type? Not a chance. It takes all kinds and of the many MilSpouses I've met, the one thing that always strikes me is how gloriously different we all are, yet we all succeed and are united by the service of our families. These spouses who fail are what they are because somewhere along the line they chose to not deal with this life and make the best of it- they chose not to do whatever it took to make it work. They chose to walk away, ignore it, rebel against it, defy it, and ultimately be selfish. They chose to give up.

Life isn't ever easy... and I won't ever contend that the Military Life is easy. It is probably harder than the Average Joe's life. But life, for anyone, is sink or swim. Military life isn't any different. I chose to swim... no matter how hard it got, how little I knew, how tired I was, how aggravating it got, how hopeless it sometimes seemed. Because I never saw another viable option- this was my life and it was up to me to make it work. I married the man I love and he was in the Army- so there was nothing to do but step up and make it happen. One way or another. That is what adults do. We ALL have the choice to fail or succeed. I chose to succeed. No special super powers. No certificate deeming me a prime MilSpouse candidate. I just chose.

To me, when a military marriage fails, it isn't the military's fault. It isn't the lifestyle. It isn't the deployments (though no one will ever contend that they make marriages easier). It is because, at the end of the day, the two people in marriage failed each other. And that happens. It happens ALL the time in the civilian world. They don't get to blame the military- so why do these folks pin the blame on the the Army or the Corps or the Navy or AF or CG? That isn't fair. My guess is that any of these marriages would have failed in the military or out. Because it is personal. Not inextricably tied to the military... you can blame a million things on the military, but the failure of your marriage isn't one of them. That one is on you and your partner.

It just seems like that statement is more of a cop-out or excuse than a reality. An easy way out for the ones who don't want to step up to the plate. Yes, it is hard. Yes there are challenges. But that's not unique to the military. That is LIFE. Some marriages will fail and some will succeed, some people will thrive and some will struggle- but these are personal issues that can't be blamed on the military lifestyle. It is about attitude and desire and being personally accountable for the way you choose to life your life and the consequences thereof. The honest truth is that anyone, ANYONE, can hack it as a MilSpouse. You just have to want to.

But hey, that's just my two cents.


Brittany said...

I agree with you one hundred and TEN percent. There are too many people out there who use this phrase as a scapegoat -- they use it to make excuses for their lives and the cards they were dealt. They say it because they refuse to actually put in the effort, ACCEPT their life, and try to make the best of it.

I will be the first to admit that when the going got tough, I uttered this phrase to myself. "I'm not cut out for this." But when I REALLY thought about what the issue was, it wasn't the Army, it wasn't the deployment, it wasn't the being apart -- it was how my husband and I were handling OUR relationship. It was going on between the two of us, whether he was here or not. It was an excuse that I quickly squashed when I figured out the real problem.

Anybody can be a military spouse. You just have to put in a little more effort. And if you refuse to put in the effort, then that's your fault. Not Uncle Sams. Life sucks sometimes. But I get tired of the people who won't grow up and take responsibility, and instead try to find any other excuse for their failures. Harsh? Probably. Do I care? NOPE! Ha! :)

Anonymous said...

I also agree with you. I am going to send the link to some people I know!

liberal army wife said...

There are times you HATE the Army... that amorphous THING that runs your life. BUT. you can either realize that this is what you are going to do, live with and work with, or you can blame it for all the problems in your marriage. YES, reintegration is hard, deployment is hard and that we cannot deny. but you either work through it or you don't.

Not cut out to be a Milspouse? oh, c'mon folks! I've been told I can't be a good milspouse because of my political beliefs, because of my attitude etc blah blah... And I'm still here. Those who want the cookie cutter milspouse, don't know us at all.

Good post, girl!


liberal army wife said...

BUT... being stubborn is an advantage - not letting the life kick your ass helps, and having support - we can't ever negate that.

TheAlbrechtSquad said...

Amen and Amen! I feel the same way!

We all have a choice and too often people use the military as a scapecoat!

Great post..really great!

Josie said...

".. is there a prototypical MilSpouse type?" Wouldn't it all be deliciously boring if there were? I mean, I'm all for boring, really. But if there were a type of person who was cut out to be a MilSpouse, I get the feeling I'd a) not be one of them and b) not like them very much. That said, I think the phrase you quote could apply equally (if not more) to the halves that are in the military rather than those of us who just flounder next to them.

In any case, great post!

Tucker said...

Josie- I 110% agree about the halves in the military! Any marriage is a two way street so yes, they absolutely apply! But isn't it funny how no one ever talks (at least in these circles) about guys being/not being cut out for it? Interesting!

lola said...

oh my freaking goodness, can I get an AMEN?!

It is totally what you make of it and I choose to have fun and enjoy the adventure. I can't help it if others don't do the same.

Julie the Army Wife said...

I TOTALLY agree!!! When my husband and I were trying to decide to join the Army, I thought to myself that I just couldn't take care of a child all by myself. It just wasn't something I could do. But I did it and will do it again. So when people tell me, "I could never do that!" I think about how I use to be someone that said that about the military life.

You are so right. We take what life gives us and get through it. No matter how hard it is.

dutchican said...

Well, seeing as I just typed a variation of this statement over on LF, I thought I would pop in here a minute to clarify. When I say or write something like that, what I intend is the very thing you are getting at here. That very quality -- the ability to make that conscious choice to make the best of a situation IS the thing that in my mind defines a military spouse. And as you stated, some people don't want to do that. To my mind, that follows... then you aren't meant for this life. I don't know that that makes sense, and maybe it's just semantics.

Jennifer said...

One of my friends told me that having children puts a magnifying glass on your marriage. Her point was that any flaws or weaknesses in your relationship are amplified when you add children into the equation.

I think being military marriages are the same. Your foundation must be strong and both partners must be willing to work hard at making it work.

Good post, Tucker!

EngineerChica said...

I agree with your statement completely. I don't believe people are 'cut out' for the military or not. But I do believe that it is a conscious choice whether or not you want to live your life that way. If people could choose not to have a sick child, I'm sure they would. Having said that, choosing NOT to become a military wife stands testament to the strength of the bond/relationship you have with a service member. I didn't want to be a milgirlfriend or milspouse in the beginning. Who WANTS to spend all that time apart at the beck and call of the government? But, I realized that 1) I love EngineerGuy too much to let my lifestyle preference break us up, 2) Military life can be exciting and exclusive, and I love how close knit this online community and I'm sure live community is, 3) I am better understanding the commitment, motivation, and sacrifices servicemembers readily make every day and it is awe inspiring and amazing at the same time, and 4) There is always a way to make it work and both be happy if you're willing to work at it. This one has been the hardest for me because I love my career and I love working, but I still want to spend as much time with EngineerGuy as I can. This is what made me question this life in the beginning of our relationship. I want to live together. I want to sleep together every night. But life can be rewarding in so many other ways as I've come to find out.

Anyway, great post, Tucker (you've had some thought-provoking ones lately) and keep it up. You are on my must-read list for sure!

Little T said...

When my Husband decided to re-enlist last year(he was in the army for 7 and out for 6) I had friends say to me, "I don' think I could stay with my husband if he decided to do that." or "wow you are so amazing for standing by him." I actually had no idea how to react to either of those comments.
I am married to my husband and why wouldn't I stay with him, support him. He has decided to join the army not be a pimp or drug dealer. To me those two things would be a deal breaker.

I imagine those woman being the ones who aren't cut out for this lifestyle. Who aren't cut out for Support through good and bad, sickness and health. Oh wait those are marriage vows. Vows you took and if you as a couple can take those vows then you should be able to talk about dreams and goals and trust that supporting one another in a career dream would be a part of that.

I completely agree with you Tucker, if your marriage fails it is because you/he/both chose that path. The path didn't chose you and cannot be blamed for your actions or Inaction.

Mckenzie & Randan said...

I just stumbled upon your blog. and oh my goodness i LOVED this post. My husbands in the marines he was deployed 9 months and has been gone 4 more since he got back to schools. (normal for some of you army girls) it could not be more true and what i've been thinking about lately. Everyone can do it and would do it if thats what was given to them. Everyone is given challenges in life, its all about how we deal with it! its like the good ol' phrase make lemonade out of lemons! Thanks so much for this post! I'm glad i came upon it and will check it out more!

indiana.girl said...

Very well put.

Post Tenebras Lux said...

Hmmmm. . . I agree and I disagree =).

I'm right there with you that the majority of the time in the majority of the cases, in being a milspouse as in the rest of life, you choose whether you make it work or you don't make it work.

I'm going to go out on a limb, though, and say that there are milspouses who do everything they can to make it work, who give their 150%, and their other half walks away anyway, or some such thing.

I'm not saying people can't get through some pretty insane things by choosing to. My parents have survived the death of both of her parents from cancer, the death of one of their children, the death of his brother, my dad's black ops career, a whole host of deployments, and a bunch of other only slightly less spectacular crap. Just saying that the milspouse can't be the only one choosing, cause you can't control other people, only yourself. . . .