Hi and welcome back to Coffee with Clare everything Thursday! I am so glad you are here today!
My husband, Jeff, has been in the Navy for 10 years. We have been married for 5 years, and we had our first child, Stuart, now age 3, while we were stationed over in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We recently got transferred to Norfolk, Virginia, for 3 years of sea duty. As you can imagine, military life (especially sea duty when my husband is gone for 6 to 8 months at a time) is no picnic – especially when you start a family. I’ve been through two “deployments” since Stuart was born. It’s tough being both parents, while working and not having your spouse. Not only is it difficult, it can be very lonely much of the time. I want Jeff to get out of the Navy but still stay in the Reserves. He has about another two years left of his enlistment, and I just want him to get out! We are arguing over this constantly as Jeff wants to stay in for at least 20 years, so he can get his retirement. I am tired of sea duty, constantly moving and all the upheaval. What can we do?
This is a very difficult decision, and my husband and I went through this, too, before we had kids and had only been married about a year at that time. My husband, Michial, already had 9 years in the Navy – but we chose to get out of the Navy as we knew we would have to pick up and move every 2 – 3 years, and the idea of “sea duty” while raising a family was not very appetizing to me. Did we make the best decision? I am not sure…. And I sure would have liked that Navy pension after 20 years right about now! But those were different times (early 80’s) and I can’t tell you for sure if we made the right decision…. But I do know, each family has to do what they think is RIGHT for them.
And it’s important to try to be “on the same page.” You need to really sit down with your husband and discuss all the “pros” and “cons” of getting out …or staying in for the long term. Express to him how you feel and why.
And ask yourselves, does he have skills and training that can be transferable in the civilian world? What are your alternatives? Encourage him to check out all college benefits and VA benefits now. It is important to get as much education as possible (such as using tuition assistance benefits) as he can while he is still in the military. If he has military schooling that may translate into civilian employment, look at what potential employers are paying for these skills; will the wages be enough to support a family? Do the potential employers offer healthcare benefits? If so, what will this cost? Have you thought about where you want to live? What city and state? How is the employment market, schools, wages and cost of living where you might want to live? Would your family be better off in or out of the military?
These are big decisions, and if he really wants to stay in, you may have to adjust your thoughts and support towards him. You could suggest, let’s review our options and discuss them again in six months. You might also want to talk with other military wives (within your church community, or even online support or chat groups) to see how others are handling the challenges you have mentioned. Some Navy wives believe that getting involved with people in the civilian community, or working to get orders in the same location (home base), helps to make the Navy a little more family friendly, and a little less lonely.
It’s important to be – and stay – open and honest with him about how you feel. Good luck!
Readers – any suggestions for “Discouraged Navy Wife”?
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Until next time~