Friday, July 24, 2009

Aliens and Strangers

Lately, Jason and I have been hurting with some friends who are struggling with their relationships as a direct result of separations imposed by the military. While marital difficulties are by no means limited to those in the military, statistics attest that those in the military have a higher rate of divorce.

I talk to military wives all over this country, and hear about multiple, back-to-back year-long (or longer) deployments, and how much they miss their husbands. They talk of making the most of every minute their husbands are home. They testify to children who do not remember their dad when he comes back from being gone for half of their little lives.

Those same wives get very frustrated with their civilian counterparts who are complaining of their husbands going away on a week-long business trip. They get tired of the attempted compliments of "I could never do that" or "I don't know how you do it."

Make no mistake. We did not get married planning to be separated for months on end. We did not plan to raise our children as single-married parents. We have our difficult days (and even weeks).

Yet, somehow, we dig deep and find reserves we never thought we had...and probably only have developed since entering this lifestyle. We make friends quickly at each new duty station (and probably frighten some of our non-military friends with the intensity of the need for those friendships to grow quickly). We find new churches and dig in deep, quickly, because we highly value our extended family in the local church. We KNOW where our strength comes from, and will do what it takes to stay plugged into our power source.

Yes, we know we are different from the mainstream of American life. We thrive in our own circles. But, please recognize that we are not super-human. We have our faults and weaknesses. We are going to have our down days. Please allow us those. And PLEASE, support us when we are trying above all else to hold our relationships together. Long-distance relationships are never easy. Long-distance relationships with the added stress of war and trying to maintain day-to-day life are immensely harder.
  • Please do NOT suggest that we divorce him, since he's never home anyway.
  • Please do NOT ask why he doesn't get a job where he can stay home. He has a good job that he loves (for the most part).
  • Please recognize that when he is sent somewhere, he does not usually have the option to tell his superiors "no"....not that he really wants to, anyway.
  • Please remember that we are also human and need a shoulder to cry on some days.
  • Please recognize that we are individuals, and as such have our own opinions about politics, the military, and life in general...though we may not share them with you.
If you want to be supportive of your friends, family and acquaintances who are in the military, or are married to someone in the military, be a friend. Recognize the differences. Be supportive when things are hard. Be available. Make a little effort to learn what their life is like. Invite them for dinner...they usually do not have family close by, and would relish the opportunity to get to know you. Chances are they will be some of the most loyal friends you will ever meet. And if not, at least you will have expanded your view of the world and blessed a military family.

Who knows but what you will entertain angels...we certainly already feel like strangers.


Stacey,momof 2 said...

I haven't been over here in a while...
I think I got stuck in my own personal/family whirlwind and now I have only just came to rest! :)
I like military families -- I think that they have such inner strength- to face so many things with grace. Their loyalty and fidelity seem to be without question their best skills!

Just last night on the way home from dropping my daughter to visit family, my son,husband and I stopped at Taco Bell to eat, my son who is almost 7 saw the American Flag flying, and he said Mommy, let's do that flag thing right now, show me how! So, I helped him put his hand over his heart and together we said the Peldge of Alliegiance(sp?)-- what a moment that was !

Laura said...

What a great teachable moment! It's so cool to watch our kids "get" it!

My Two Army Brats said...

Well said! Last night my friend and I were at a gas station and I left in my car and she lingered there few more minutes finishing up. A woman saw the magnets on her car that said Proud Army Wife, Keep My Daddy Safe, and a few others military magnets. The woman approached my friend, asked about her soldier and then said "we really appreciate the military families and whenever we have an opportunity, we like to help them out". She reached out her hand and placed a $20 bill in my friends hand and hurried away.