Today we have a guest post from my sister, Melinda!! I appreciate her thoughts here. At the bottom I added a few thoughts of my own. 🙂
I must open by letting everyone know that I am not a military wife. I do have some connections to the military though via family and friends. One of my brothers-in-law is in the Air Force (just began pilot training!), and quite a few of my friends are wives of Air Force men. (I live in an Air Force town so many of the people at my church are either Air Force or retired Air Force.) Since my husband is not in the military, I can only offer some observations from outside the military. Take them or leave them for what they’re worth.
I write because of the many blog posts I have seen written by military wives talking about the inherent difficulties and hardships they face. It’s true. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it must be to have your husband gone on training exercises and deployments . . . sometimes for months (or years!) at a time. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to raise your children alone or to manage all of the household affairs by yourself.
Yet I also want military wives to be aware of how these posts can ostracize other women . . . other women who are going through difficult times and hardships and desperately long for encouragement. As Christian women, we should be seeking to encourage each other in all the hardships we all face.
For example, during the first 18 months of our marriage, my husband traveled a lot. He was gone (usually out of state) for two weeks out of every month. While many military wives may think that’s no big deal (and perhaps for them it wouldn’t be), let me point out several things. First, my husband was gone for 50% of the first 18 months of our marriage. Even my sister who married a guy in the Air Force can’t say that. Secondly, I still dealt with household issues and parenting all by myself for half of the time. In many ways, I envied military wives because many of them have a community from which to draw help. They live on base or there are even online communities for military wives. But what about railroad wives? I was on my own.
My point is not that military wives should stop blogging or writing about their unique struggles, but please do consider stop phrasing it like you have the most difficult experience of any other wife. In reality, God calls each of us to hard, difficult, challenging things. For some of us, it will be through husbands who are absent, whether in the military or some other job. For others it will be loss of employment, death of our children, or something else. The body of Christ would benefit from seeking to help and encourage other women in whatever difficulties they find themselves.
For those of us who are not military wives, I do encourage you to be considerate if you (like me) do know any military wives. When their husbands are gone, most would appreciate some help with things like babysitting their kids, running to the store, or making a meal. As their sisters in Christ, we should be ready and willing to help them while their husbands are gone. Yet, let’s not forget other women. Are there any other women in your church who’s husbands travel? Those women would appreciate the exact same things a military wife would. Are there women struggling through loss of employment? Whatever it is, let’s cultivate hearts and attitudes of ministry for each other regardless of our husbands’ vocations.
I wholeheartedly agree with what my sister shared. I am hardly into our military career and I have seen this many times. I’ve read the mil spouse blogs and seen the memes that say things like, “‘I’m sorry your husband had to go away for a night. That must be so hard!’ – said no military wife ever.”
I get that. I do. Deployments are no joke.
But…at the same time…and I say this as honestly and lovingly as I can….any time you’re away from your husband…it stinks. It stinks when he’s gone for one night and it stinks when he’s gone a week. The challenges that a wife faces will be different when he’s gone for longer periods of time, but the plain truth is that it still stinks. The wife is still missing her husband. She’s still lonely. She still has to take care of the house, the kids, the car repairs, the bills, etc, by herself.
The woman whose husband is gone for an overnight business trip has no idea what it’s like for the woman whose husband is gone for a week at a time. The woman whose husband is gone for a week at a time has no idea what it’s like for the woman whose husband is gone for 5 weeks at a time (our longest separation so far). The woman whose husband is gone for 5 weeks has no idea what it’s like for the woman whose husband is gone for a year. But no one should roll their eyes at the person who has gone through “less” than what you have. It all comes down to “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Why do we get so caught up in our story and our situation that we have to compare other people’s real life stories and situations to our own?
Love for our spouses, or our abilities as wives and mothers, is not summed up in the amount of days spent together. Or spent apart.