Planning to marry an army man soon?
You’d do well to read this account by Esther Rachel about her experience as a “military wife”.
Esther describes the 2 years she’s spent married to an SAF regular and the trials and tribulations that come with it.
Of course, it’s not all gloom and doom – there’s perks to being wed to a man in green.
Read on and see why!
“You’ve probably stumbled across our story somewhere early this year but if you haven’t, well, here’s a little background: Shane and I were 19 when we made the decision to get married because I was expecting our child – yes, to put it bluntly, it was a shotgun marriage and yes, I was a teen mom. Fast forward 5 years, my husband made the decision to join the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) after assuring me that he wasn’t doing it for the money (because we were young and obviously needed money to raise our child) and that he genuinely found interest in having a military career so, as a wife, I gave him my utmost support and that’s when my journey as a military wife begun.
It’s been 2 years since and I try as much to keep my husband and his career out of the limelight for obvious reasons, but today, I decided to share a little on what it’s like being the wife of a military man or, in layman terms, the wife of a “regular”.
Not have to worry about “stability”.
We all know that the SAF rewards our servicemen pretty decently. I say decent because a career in the military allows soldiers to provide enough for their families to live comfortably enough. Not luxioriously. So unless your husband is holding an appointment of a general, don’t dream about leading a Tai Tai life. One thing’s for sure though, you won’t have to worry about not being able to put food on the table and him getting retrenched. It’s as stable a career as it gets unless of course, if the country goes to war then it’s a whole different kind of instability we’re talking about.
What I do can involuntarily affect him and his career.
What you DO have to worry about though, is your actions. The SAF upholds and instills discipline and strong morals into its servicemen but this doesn’t just stop there. Because I’m his wife, what I do also reflects on him so I have to be wary about the things I say or do especially on social media or it might have adverse effects on him and his career, which is also why I don’t really like to talk about his job on social media (with the exception of this, “generally-speaking” blog entry).
He can’t always be there.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that protecting the nation isn’t just a job. It’s a commitment and one that military men and women pride themselves in. This means sacrificing even family time to respond to his call of duty. My husband spends minimally, a day or two each week away from us and during crunch time or outfields, this can even extend to week(s) – and I’m not even talking about overseas deployments (like right now, when he has to be miles and oceans away from us for a month and leave the kids + wedding planning entirely up to me *cues dramatic sad violin music* ). Meh. But really, we don’t have dinner together as a family all the time either because even when he comes home, it’s often after dinner time. I also have to deal with entire weekends without him because of his “duties” that eat into the weekend at least once every two months or so. As a wife and mom of two kids, sometimes it can get really frustrating because I really want him to be around more often. Being a military wife really takes a lot of adapting, understanding and patience on my part to “fit” my life into his military lifestyle.
It forces you to be strong and supportive.
Eventually with time, you’ll learn to juggle everything independently – not because you want to but because you have to. His job requires a lot of support and understanding from me as a wife. Sure, there have been times even up until today where we struggle with his absence and I get mad at his career choice but I know that everytime I do that, it greatly affects his morale and motivation to do his job and it doesn’t help us in any way at all. It really isn’t easy and I can count the number of times I’ve called him crying when he first signed on but things are a lot better now as I’ve learned to understand the need for me to be strong and support him in his career and for us to work together towards our future instead of “holding him back”.
He can hardly be the “second alternative childcare arrangement”.
When one of our daughters are sick and I’m unavailable (Read: Woes Of A Working Mom), the odds of counting on my military husband to be on “standby” is almost zero. Ironically enough, he’s always ready and on standby 24/7 for his country though. So everytime there’s an “emergency” my go-to person will always be either my mom/dad, in-laws, relatives, friends etc…anyone except my husband, unfortunately.
Sometimes, it can be really difficult to reach him.
Unlike the “outside world”, the military has certain restricted zones where he’s not allowed to carry his mobile phone with him and sometimes when I really need a reply from him on something, that makes it almost impossible to reach him – unless I call up the ops room or his superior but the idea of calling up some “higher authority” just to ask if my husband can “pick the kids up tonight” cause I’ll be “held up at work” seems pretty ridiculous don’t you think? & even when he’s not in “restricted zones” it can still be tough to get him because part of his job includes attending/conducting PT, going for runs etc. so he doesn’t always carry his phone with him. Unlike a regular office job, he doesn’t always end work at 6pm. When he stays in camp, it usually means he’s going to have a long day so it’s not unusual for me to only be able to talk to him when it’s bedtime. Even then, I’m always preoccupied with the kids so we’ll normally just drop each other a “goodnight” text and turn in, sometimes, only replying each other the next morning.
It’s tough trying to plan things.
Because it’s so difficult to reach him at times, it makes planning impromptu things a real headache. Sometimes even planning ahead for celebrations or a get away can be quite frustrating since he always have to “see his schedule for that month” first and until that happens, we can’t really go ahead with anything. We always have to wait it out and see (& it gets on my nerves because I’m one who hate putting things on hold and procrastinating) but it usually works out fine in the end (just that sometimes I’m too kan chiong to get things done luh).
You won’t know what exactly his job entails.
It’s no surprise that the military has a lot of private and confidential matters that regular civillians should not and cannot not know about so for some military wives, it takes a lot of trust on their part in that sense.You know, what with them being away so often and not being able to tell everything. For me, this doesn’t really happen lah cause it’s not like he’s super high-ranking or what. But most times, I don’t know what his job entails simply because, I don’t get it. You think by now I would understand much of the military terms, jargons and stuff. But to be honest, although I’ve asked him to explain it to me countless times, I can’t even get the order of formation right, much less the rankings and what confusing military stuff that he does! So basically what I know is really just what I THINK he does. hahahaha!
He leaves early and comes home late.
When my husband does come home, he usually leaves the next day bright and early before the sun even rises. His alarm goes off at 5-ish and he’s out of the house before anyone of us are even awake & that’s because military life starts early (duh!). They have physical training and life runs that start in the early morning, before the afternoon sun comes up and his day can end as late as 11pm or later – which is why he chooses to stay in sometimes instead of coming home at 12 midnight and then leaving at 5am the next morning.
He has to spend evenings attening cohesions after cohesions.
This one drives me completely nuts even until now. Everytime he tells me, “Babe, I’ve got a battery/battalion/company cohesion to attend next week.” I’ll be like “WHHHAAAATTT?!?! DIDN’T YOU JUST HAVE SOME COHESION LAST MONTH?! & THAT OTHER TIME?! AND JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO?!?!” but apparently there’s a cohesion every once in a while for the different formations – i.e. small scale, medium scale, large scale. Although I find it really annoying cause they techinically just gather to bbq/drink/play bowling/make merry etc. but I know it’s not exactly avoidable either – especially if the chief of the formation is attending it. I mean, you cannot expect him to tell his superior “I can’t make it cause my Commanding Officer (aka wife) wants me home”. I get that being a unit/battalion/battery etc., they need to have these sort of things so the men can bond from top down but you know, it’s just really annoying sometimes like…Y U NO BOND WITH ME AND THE KIDS HUHHH?!?!?! hahahahaha I kid. But really, cohesions. ughhhhh!
You learn to appreciate his presence more.
But it’s also because of his absence that I learn to appreciate his presence more. Usually when he gets back, he helps me out with the kids and I/we can have an early night *smirks* *wiggle eyebrows*. We also spend quality time as a family a lot more especially when he comes home from being away for days/weeks. Quality > quantity basically, so we always make it a point to have a good family weekend out. I guess in that sense, it makes you cherish your time together more.
Your children look up to their father in awe.
I definitely can vouch for this one because although Shane doesn’t think he’s doing anything great or honourable (or he’s just tryna act humble hahaha), Kylie most certainly thinks the world of her “Sergeant Daddy Shane”. Kylie would at times, thank him for “protecting the WORLD” (HAHAHHA! YES, YOU HEARD ME, PROTECT THE WORLD LEH! Like Captain planet or something LOL!) and would always listen to his outfield stories in wide-eyed amazement and even try to mimic him by doing salutes, push ups, sit ups etc!
Most of all, being a military wife has taught me to learn and appreciate the men and women in uniform a lot more. It is an unspoken knowledge that our servicemen do not receive as much respect and honour as the troops in the States simply because they don’t “fight wars”. But I for one know how much pride, passion and commitment they put into their jobs everytime they put on their uniforms. I’ve also gained a new-found respect for other women who similarly, have to juggle taking care of the household, striving for their career, raising kids and yet at the same time, give moral support to their husband who are freqeuntly away for work.
Granted, there are days when I think to myself “I wish he’d get a normal office job” but at the end of the day, I can’t help but to feel really proud of my military husband and the things he puts up with (like the distance) just to provide for us AND the nation (plus, how can I complain about his fit body?! Hahaha!! *smirks*).”