This seems to be a question that has been plaguing my marriage in recent times. Who will we be if he chooses to not reenlist next year? Who will we be if he does? Who will we be when the nation officially moves into a time of peace?
The last one seems to be the heaviest of them all. I know, or at least have a good idea who we will be if The Boy chooses to reenlist. I’m pretty sure our world will keep spinning if he chooses not too… But should he reenlist and the nation moves into peace time, well that will be a world that we have never experienced together.
My husband has never been a Marine for a nation at peace. I have never been married to a Marine during a peaceful time. What will that mean for us? I’m not sure. You see, most of my adult life has been shaped by the events on a randomly sunny day in September all those years ago. I was just a kid. I look back at that time and think of how odd it feels to still feel so young, but realize that I was just a dumb teenager, fresh out of high school at that time ago.
Here I am now, 11 years later and the only world I have ever known as an adult was a world at war. The only marriage I have known was one constantly facing that war. Putting up the united front, playing the dutiful wife, facing the sympathetic eyes of my family and friends who don’t really know what life in the military is like and for some odd reason think that all it is is sadness and heartbreak. I’ve grown thicker skin, I’m less trusting of others, I’m more hyper vigilant about my security and safety, and I’m much, much, MUCH more sensitive to the true meaning of Memorial Day and the 4th of July than I ever was growing up.
This war is as normal to my life as is making breakfast… Ok, so I don’t cook, but the metaphor stands. Who will I be? Who will we be as a couple? What will life be like when the war is no longer on my mind every day of my life? Will these habits be too hard to break?
When my husband was gone I spent endless hours trying to ignore the nagging, worry in the back of my mind. We lived our life in life and death at that time. It felt like everything I did was to avoid hearing about death, worrying about his, or trying to make it through one more day of a countdown that was never going to be a sure thing. Dramatic? Yes, but we all have to admit that we worry more than we want to. That habit never went away. When my husband is in the field and unreachable, I worry, when he goes out for a beer and I don’t hear from him a fierce panic rises in my throat and it feels like my world is spinning. It’s been three years and I have never broken the habit of worry. Will I be able to break the habit of war?
Will he be able to break the habits that have shaped our world for three years post deployment? Will he be able to stand down and be comfortable in a world that he now sees as full of threats at each turn? Will we, as a couple, know who we are, if he is not the warrior and I am not the warrior’s wife?
I honestly… just…don’t… know…
Though it is not all of who I am, a large part of my life is being a military wife, offering support to others and seeing the bonds that build between spouses as a way of life that is hard to find in the civilian world. Though I’m sure those bonds will stay, new ones will become harder to find as we move farther and farther away in time from the life of a military couple, with a military life and military marriage.
Right now I say that I’m just A Girl, who loves A Boy, who is married to the Marine Corps… Who will he be when he is no longer married to the USMC? And who will I be to him, if I’m no longer his mistress?
I’d like to think that I will take center point in his life and we will skip off into the heavily wooded front yard of our dream home, hand in hand, happily every after… But is that who we will be?