“So, wait, your husband is NOT in the military?” Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked this question. I’ve always joked that there is enough Army in me for the two of us and wasn’t surprised to read recently that less than 6% of male military spouses are civilians. Most of the time, if a wife is in the military, her husband is also. I haven’t been able to find Army specific statistics, but comparatively the Army has less females than the Navy and Air Force so I’m sure the civilian male spouse percentage is even lower.
Neither Hubby or I knew what we were facing when we jumped into the Army life a little over eight years ago. Reality set in quickly when we moved into our first home, an on-post cinder block duplex in El Paso, Texas. Hubby started to despise getting groceries as a quick stop for eggs meant some drill sergeant accosting him about his sideburn length. Or how about the time he was told by the gate guard he couldn’t drive on post unless he took out his earring (an offense for a soldier, not a spouse)? That first year was tough on both of us, but especially tough on Hubby. He was still trying to figure out being married to me (a full time job for those of you that know me), let alone being thrust into an unfamiliar environment.
We combated assumptions with humor. One of my favorite things was to have him pick me up from work. Not sure why, but after announcing to other male soldiers in the unit that I was NOT married to a soldier, they immediately pictured my husband as a 5’5″ one hundred pound wisp of a man that straggled behind me with a sad puppy face. Imagine their surprise when my bronzed Hubby stepped out of our car, a 6’5″ two hundred and fifty pounder with Defensive Line written all over him. I’m still laughing at their reaction! Time went on and Hubby grew his buzz cut out and perfected a sole-patch under his lower lip in rebellion to Army standards. These subtle changes dramatically reduced the “Hey TROOP!” or “SOLDIER, why you out of uniform?” comments he previously received living on post.
Both deployments, Hubby’s position became invaluable. During my first deployment, he was a comfort to our Family Readiness Group, an organization dedicated to supporting families while their soldier is away. As the only male in this spouse support group, he served as Mr. Fix-it and human-kiddo-jungle-gym at meetings. We were stationed in Colorado for my second tour and Hubby became a single dad with an eighteen month old. Where do I begin to express my gratitude for such a task?
We’ve traded roles recently as he heads off to work while I stay at home with our boys. Thinking back to those first few years, it’s hard for me to now complain about Hubby’s work stuff left in a trail from the door when he comes home or the fact that he lets snooze go off five times before getting up. He never complained about anything during my active duty days, including my sleeping cot to cot with a bunch of dudes during field exercises or his required attendance as the only suit in a room of dress uniforms at military balls. I know that I couldn’t have done the Army without him and he’s certainly left big shoes to fill.
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