Marine Corps Girlfriend: A Guest Post

In my absence I will have a variety of guest posters and today is no different.  I feel lucky to have met so many awesome USMC spouses through my blog and today this wonderful Marine Corps Mama is going to share her experience starting out as a USMC girlfriend.  When I met my husband, he had long since been a Marine and I feel lucky to get to see the other side through this post.

Be sure to check out her blog Marine Corps Mama.

A little more than 4 years ago, my hubby joined the Marine Corps.  He wasn’t my hubby then, though.  He was just my boyfriend.  We had met in school – graduate for me, doctoral for him – and fell hard.  Looking into the future, I never expected him to become a marine.

After school, I lived in New York City and worked a prestigious job for a great company while he went to OCS, then TBS.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about him being in the military.  It was scary.  I was always very career driven, very me-me-me (only child, here).  I was raised to pursue success.  I knew that being with a marine was going to make that harder, albeit not impossible.  Also, I knew that he had become a marine in a time of war.  I was scared about what it would mean for our future children – an often absent father and the risk of losing him altogether.  Certain members of my family were being less than supportive.

Then, he got stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.  And he asked me to go with him.

It was a big decision – All of my family lived in New England.  I had a great job that I was excelling at, although I wasn’t totally happy with it.  All my hopes and dreams had always centered around living in New York City.  I was living a rough draft of my dream.

I didn’t have a job in California and would need to find one fast – though we had been together for a few years, we hadn’t merged our finances yet.  We had never lived together and, though we had spoken about marriage, small issues were keeping us from taking the plunge immediately.  Neither of us had even been to California.  We would be moving sight unseen.  Without a ring on my finger.  For me, it was huge.

I was young, but I knew I loved him.  So I took a leap of faith.  To my friends, I was that girl who moves across the country for a boy.

We drove across the country in six days.  It was a DITY move, with him driving a big UHAUL and towing his truck.  I followed in my sedan.  We communicated with walkie talkies and pulled off the highway to see interesting things in interesting places.  It was an adventure that brought us closer together.

A PCS candid.

We finally pulled off the highway in San Clemente.  It was beautiful.  I looked at him and said “You know you’re going to have to drag me kicking and screaming from this place, right?”  He laughed.

The charm of paradise soon started to wear off, though, under the pace of an intense work up.  I started to see exactly what I was getting myself into with the Marine Corps.  And I didn’t like it one bit.

To be honest, I acted like a brat about it.  I whined.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I got angry.  And that was not good for our relationship.

I have no good excuse and this is not an attempt at making one, but entering the marine corps life as a girlfriend is hard.  A wife has already “grieved” her life as a single, unattached woman with hopes and dreams all her own.  She has already accepted that she will achieve many of her dreams but will have to compromise some for her marriage.  She has already made a commitment to stick by her man through the thick and the thin… and if you’re a military family, there’s an awful lot of thin.  There are no questions for her when she crosses the threshold into the marine corps (perhaps this point is arguable, considering that there are many military marriages that end in divorce).  It’s much easier to undergo a lifestyle change when your relationship is already on sturdy ground.

It’s also hard to see the inner workings of corps life if you’re not a wife – you’re not officially recognized by the marine corps (I was lucky that our battalion commander’s wife was very conscious of including “significant others,” not just spouses).  You’re not receiving health insurance.  You don’t spend a lot of town around other wives who, if you did, would automatically quell your fears because they are a group of beautiful, strong, honest, capable and real women who have been through it all and come out smiling.

Girlfriends still have an out.  They can still run for their lives – and sometimes, it’s tempting.  I used to think it was just me… I was weak, I wasn’t supportive, I was a bad person.  I couldn’t handle it.  The truth is, though, many girlfriends go through this before they finally become wives.  They just don’t talk about it.  It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.  It just means you’re scared.

I eventually got over it and we got married.  And we are so happy.  I never knew I would love being a military wife this much.  I love the traditions.  I love the incredible sisterhood I have married into.  I love the adventure of going new places.  I even *kind of* like it that my hubby is gone so much – it gives strength to our relationship because we appreciate each other more.

So why am I writing this?  Because I know there are women out there who are going through what I went through.  Don’t let the fear of this lifestyle wreck your relationship.   I wish I realized that life will always be full of hardships.  Many of them will be just as big, if not bigger, than having a husband in the military.  Marrying the right man is more important than marrying the ideal life.  Whether your husband is an accountant or a marine, safety and security are never guaranteed.