As you probably know by now this Saturday it is Armed Forces Day a day dedicated to raising awareness of the work done by British Armed Forces and giving people the opportunity to show their support for the whole Armed Forces community.
This week we have a series of guest posts from women whose partners are in the Armed Forces explaining the highs and lows of being a wife and mother within the Services.
I am relatively new to the military wife thing, having just over 2 years under my belt. I am extremely proud to be married to a member of the British Forces, they do a fantastic job and make so many personal sacrifices along the way. My husband was already a long-serving member of the Royal Engineers when I met him, so I have never known anything different in terms of our relationship. However I did think I would become accustomed to the separations…I now know that you do get used to it but it doesn’t stop you missing them one bit!
We are lucky in that although my husband is posted overseas we do get to see him very frequently at weekends. This, is frankly down to our mutual commitment to both travel for several hours each way and spend every available penny on getting together! But we are both very prepared to do it and time together as a family is of extreme importance to us. At the end of the day in our current situation it is about quality and not quantity. We do try to do things together as a couple and a family each weekend, but like most there are always domestic jobs etc to do and sometimes it is not always possible. But we probably do make that extra effort as our time together is so limited.
Lots of people say to me that I have the perfect arrangement – in that I only have a husband home at the weekend, I beg to differ! Particularly when you are sitting on the sofa on a midweek evening on your own missing them dreadfully and longing for a cuddle. When you have someone around the whole time it is very easy to take them for granted. I doubt many military wives take their husbands for granted in the slightest.
We make the best of our current arrangement. We use our different bases as an opportunity to take our boys to places in the UK and Europe that we would otherwise not go too. I think this is a very positive experience for them, particularly when you stay frequently in another country as part of the community as opposed to a tourist.
We skype/facetime for about an hour most evenings, firstly it is free but most importantly it is the nearest that you can get to a face to face conversation. I often wonder how many of my friends sit and discuss stuff with their hubby’s for an uninterrupted hour each evening? Not many I bet!
The separation not only causes emotional stress to the entire family but also practical issues. Whilst my husband is very supportive, at the end of the day Monday-Friday I am a single parent balancing my child-care commitments with my babywear business and everything else. It is hard work and a source of frustration for us both. I need help, he wants to help, but it just can’t happen!
I think the biggest issue for most military families is the constant goodbyes and the uncertainty of the future. Sure the hello’s are wonderful, the excitement building as their arrival is imminent – but the repetitive cycle of knowing you will be saying goodbye within a couple of days does wear you down sometimes. I feel like I am living in a cycle of highs and lows! The uncertainty of the next posting, the volatile nature of the world at present, combined with the unrelenting commitment of our Forces to respond to whatever is asked of them, well it does take its toll on everyone in the family. I remain positive and upbeat for my boys but they live in the cycle of highs and lows too.
I think it does change your perspective on life. I was widowed a few years ago so am very clear about what I think is important and what is not. Being a military wife has amplified my views even more.
I value and take pleasure in the simple things in life most. Knowing that my husband will be coming home at the weekend. Laying the dinner table for four, waking up next to my husband in the morning, sharing decisions and responsibilities, seeing my boys faces when Dad is at school sports day, all three of them sitting on the sofa together laughing at Top Gear. My biggest pleasure is being with my husband on a Sunday evening in particular, as that is when our goodbyes have been said and he is usually on his way back to his posting!
Roll on 2014 when my husband leaves the Forces, having done 24 years service for Queen and country. Our lives will change so much. In the meantime I remain a very proud military wife.
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