What Army Life is Really Like: 4 States, 2 Countries, & 1 Decision in 4 Minutes

What Army Life is Really Like: DecisionsI wrote a blog post once about what deployment is really like. In that post, I talked a little bit about the contrast between civilian and military life.

Friday, I had another “We’re not civilians, anymore” moment when I got a mid-day call from my husband.

Before I tell you about it, let me give you context on our life at the moment:

  • We arrived in Germany in May 2013 after about 1.5 years at Fort Carson, most of which my husband spent training for or on a deployment.
  • Our first baby is due any day.
  • We’re moving again in either April or May to another duty station in Germany.
  • We don’t yet know how long we’ll be in that assignment — just that it’s a minimum of 1 year.
  • While we’re there, he’ll be up for in-the-zone promotion to the next rank. (He’s currently up for below-the-zone.)
  • If he makes below-the-zone promotion, our next step will involve a career course in about 14 months.

The phone call went something like this:

Me: “Hi!”
Him: “Hey there!”
Me: “What’s up?”
Him: “Well, I have one question and a couple of things to run by you. First, the question: there’s no baby yet, is there?”
Me: “Hahahahaha. No, no baby yet.”
Him: “Okay, good! Well, the other thing is that I just found out that I have to submit my career course preferences…And they’re due today.”
Me: “Okay.”
Him: “I have to give them my top five choices, so I was hoping to share what I’ve got with you to make sure that you don’t have any objections.”
Me: “Okay, what’ve you got?”

He gave me a list of and rationale for five preferences that ranged in length from 10 to 12 months, and that ranged in location from the Midwest to Ireland.

Me: “I don’t have any objections. At this point, I sort of feel like we’re going to get to live in all kinds of strange places before your career is done.”
Him: “Really? You’re good with the list?”
Me: “Yep, sounds good to me. Thanks for running it by me before you submitted it.”
Him: “Okay, great! I’ll see you tonight. Love you!”
Me: “Love you, too. Have a good afternoon.”

This entire conversation took exactly 4 minutes.

[line]

Welcome to Life Married in the Army.

I know where we live right now, and I know what town we’re moving to in a few months. I don’t know how long we’ll be there, where we’ll live when we get there, or where we’ll go next. In essence, I have a view into the future that becomes very foggy any further out than 12 months.

In the Army, we move when we’re asked to move, and at some stages in a soldier’s career, those moves are more frequent.

I can chose my stresses, and some things aren’t worth stressing about. One of my approaches to managing military life is not to worry too much about where we’ll be more than 8-12 months out from where we are now. It’s a pragmatic approach, and it’s one that can prevent a lot of emotional ups and downs.

When the official orders come through, we’ll make our remaining plans. Until then, we’ll welcome our baby girl and enjoy our last few weeks at our current duty station.

In the civilian world, a conversation about moving your family to one of four different states or a foreign country would probably be one you’d have face-to-face. Also, it would probably take more than four minutes. 😉

In the Army, I’m just thankful that I got a phone call. During deployments, spouses aren’t always so lucky.

And you know what? It’s all okay. It’s not big or dramatic or honestly even exciting. It’s just another day being married to an officer who’s at a stage in his career where we need to be able to go where the Army sends us. And as cheesy as it sounds, as long as we’re together, I’ll make the best of wherever that is.

Can you relate? Have there been points in your spouse’s career when you’ve moved more frequently? Leave a comment and share with other spouses what your experience has been like.

 

 

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15 Comments

  1. I think the moving/PCS situation is one of the biggest differences between civilian and Army life. Our family has no say (for the most part) over when, where, and how long. We go where we are told, when we are told. If you are a civilian, however, and your job wants to move you somewhere that you don’t want to go, you look for another job. It’s not always feasible, but you have control over where you go and when. I think it’s just hard for people to grasp when they haven’t experienced it. Thankfully, I like the adventure of moving somewhere new. The logistics and stress of moving, on the other hand, I’m not a fan of!

    Where are y’all headed to next? The year we spent in Germany was in Grafenwoehr, which we both really loved. If that’s where you end up, it’s a great little post!

    • Amy, I couldn’t have said it better; we go where we’re told when we’re told for how long we’re told to go there. We’re actually headed pretty close to Graf. We’ll be in Hohenfels next. We were just at Graf last fall for a week-long course (there was a course for him and for me, which was pretty great. I’ve been looking at your blog’s list of places to see in Germany for ideas of places we can day trip once we get there.

      I hope you’re well!

  2. LOVE that you are embracing the life and finding that flexibility is the key to handling ANYTHING that comes up! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thanks Judy! There really isn’t much logical choice except to make the most of it, but I’ll admit that my transition from working for a company to working for myself made it much less stressful for me to relocate so frequently. It was much harder when I was still in a traditional employment situation.

  3. Keep your spirit up always. Military spouse life is not easy but good thing you find it exciting. It is so nice hearing about military spouses that they can handle things nicely specially in moving in, it can inspire others.

    http://mycaa-milspouse.com

  4. We actually haven’t moved that often but one day I woke up to see that my husband’s Brigade was moving to a new post in Germany. I wasn’t happy where we were so I felt like it was perfect although it happened relatively quickly.

    • Julie, it seems like that happened with a few units here in Germany. Suddenly families were moving from one town to the next mid-tour, but the moves were (thankfully) within the country. I’m glad it worked out alright for your family.

  5. Mark has been at the same duty station since we’ve known each other, so we haven’t gone through that yet….however, we’re getting ready to PCS for his career course in just a few months (eek!) and then move again less than a year after that. Life is a whirlwind but good! 🙂

    • Malori, career course was the beginning of a series of short-lived posts for us. That’s where Nick was when we started dating, and he’s PCSed about once a year since then. It looks like we’re on the 12-24 month PCS schedule for the next 2-3 years still. No sense in stressing about it, I guess.

  6. Yes, I remember a convo like this! It goes something like ‘hey we just lost our orders to Italy’ me shocked….’they need a list of our top 5 bases in the next 30 mins’ Uh, never mind the fact that I’m at work, he’s deployed and it’s nighttime there and I have no way to research/decide what 5 to pick….sigh. Thankfully before we could even submit our 5 they gave us Germany so all is well…if you call moving here and living in a hotel for 3 months well…bah ha ha!! Gotta love it!!

  7. As you know, my experience is different since we’re Army National Guard, but similar in many ways. While we don’t move often, life still has these unknowns – and we’ve learned (or tried to learn) you can’t plan your life around the Army. Orders come up last minute, and they get canceled. Hubby gets sent to a training course across the country on short notice… so be it. The Army has more than once interfered with his civilian schooling, and he’s expecting a deployment to spring up now that he’s started nursing school, because, well, that’s just what always happens as soon as something starts working out on the civilian side 😉

    Sometimes I wish we were active duty, but he’s been in the national guard for 14 years and loves it. He’s not just a part-time soldier like many would portray him – this is a big part of his life and our life. And I’ve found it’s something few civilians and few active duty folks really understand. Sometimes it feels like we don’t belong in either community, but it is what you make of it, right? 🙂

  8. Wow, I can definitely relate! We move back to America from Germany next week and then in 6 months we’ll move again, destination unknown. Non military people are shocked when I tell them, but I’m just choosing not to stress about it. What can you do? Good luck with your move!

    • I hope your PCS goes well, Shannon. The OCONUS moves are definitely bigger and more stressful than the same-country moves, but man…6 months later? We should grab a beer. 🙂

  9. You have such an amazing outlook on that amount of change. I guess you have to being married to the army. I don’t know that I could take the not knowing like that. Especially with such stride as you have. For sure not being pregnant!

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