What my life is like as a 20-something Army wife
It was six years and seven months ago that I met my future husband, four years ago that I married him, and two years and ten months ago that he deployed to Afghanistan.
As a 25-year-old Army wife, there are lots of things they tell me, but there are also a lot of things they don’t. They tell you it’s hard, of course. They tell you to try not to count down the days; to find some hobbies and keep busy; to get used to it. They tell you not to worry yourself sick.
What they don’t tell you is how hard it actually is. They don’t tell you that you’ll spend hours or even days or weeks waiting for the phone to ring; that you’ll oftentimes be lonelier than you’ve ever been in your life; that you’re always, always hoping that when the phone does ring, it will be good news. You’re always hoping that the outcome will be the words nobody says: that your spouse will be alive; that they’ll make it home.
They tell you your relationship will take work, but they don’t tell you how hard you’ll have to work at communicating when living such different lives. They don’t tell you both of your lives are forever changed. They don’t tell you that you’ll never again feel like the rest of the 20-somethings you know, love, and grew up with who are beginning exciting careers in glittering cities and spending every holiday with their friends and family—the ones who can plan vacations a year in advance and spend every Christmas by the fire with their siblings and parents.
They tell you it’s lonely, but they don’t tell you how isolating it can feel. Friends tell you they could never do it; they could never be married to someone who leaves that much. As a military spouse, I often thank people for extending their sympathy, but what I don’t tell them is that even though we “signed up for this” (every military wife’s favorite words), if I had the choice, I wouldn’t want them leaving every few weeks or months either. No one wants to spend each night waiting for that email or phone call. I didn’t choose the military—I chose the man. And it’s as hard for me as it would be for you.
What no one tells you is how grateful being married to someone in the military makes you. You hang on to every single wonderful moment. You grasp them with both hands, look those moments in the eye, and you say, “I’m so glad you’re here.”
You may not see them every day, but the moments you see them are the best of your life.
You may not live the life of the average 25-year-old woman, but you do something many 25-year-olds aren’t doing: You live for the present, and oftentimes, the future. You don’t look to the past. You love the moments you have, and you wait for the day they come home to be with you again.
They don’t tell you how strong your relationship will be after a deployment. They don’t tell you that a deployment will make each of you more grateful for the other, and it’s a sort of grateful that spending 365 consecutive evenings at home together could never give you. They don’t tell you that deployment makes you a more patient, loving, forgiving person.
Being an Army wife at 25 has, truthfully, made me feel crazier and more stressed out than anyone my age should be. But the flip side? It makes you happy for every single day together. It makes you live in the now. It makes you feel so lucky, so loved, and so appreciative.
What people don’t tell you, what they can’t always get across, is even with the stress, the heartache, and the long days, you’d do it all over again. Every single time.
Taylor Basilio is a 20-something freelance writer and editor. She’s also the blogger/owner of comfort + chaos, an Army wife, and mom to Isla. She’s a diehard Taylor Swift fan, will do anything for cheesecake, and is attempting to change the world, one piece of writing at a time. You can find her on Twitter @taylorbasilio and Instagram @tabasilio.