My husband and I recently got divorced. The transition has been hard. I am struggling with the idea that I am no longer considered a military spouse even though I endured 7 moves and 3 deployments. Am I an ex-military spouse? Is there such a thing?
Once a Marine, always a Marine. There’s no such thing as an ex-Marine. It’s a matter of honor, so why would you– the military spouse– feel as though you deserve anything less?
Perhaps you are no longer a part of the military community. Your spouse may have retired, separated from the military after a number of years, been discharged because of a disability or any number of other reasons. Until the question was asked this month, “Is There Such a Thing as an Ex-Military Spouse?” the notion had never crossed my mind. Why would it?
I grew up as an Army brat and was so sad when my dad retired. I felt like I was part of something special and then it was gone. I told him so on Thanksgiving that year when our tradition of visiting the soldiers at the mess halls was missing from that day. It wasn’t just that I got a slice of pumpkin pie at each one (hey I was a kid and there were only 3), but that I got to spend time with my dad and see all the smiling happy faces. I can still picture it, everyone passing plates, the noise so loud with cheer. It may sound funny and so simplistic but at that point my whole life had been part of this great military community. Isn’t it the small things in life that count? At this moment now, I’m considering the question. Did I become an ex-military child? Was my mother now an ex-military spouse?
I would never consider myself or my mother that way. The wonderful experiences we had made us who we are. We will never lose that.
I find myself, years later, back in the embrace of the military lifestyle. My husband is in the Navy and so I am an Army brat and a Navy wife. One day he will leave active duty and I will once again say good-bye to this community. Will that really make me an ex-military spouse? No.
Ex-military spouse sounds so harsh. Did we break up? Former military spouse, I could handle that term. We had a great relationship and it will end happily. I will take the memories I have made from the beginning of my life through the beginning of our child’s life.
This has been after all, our life. This was never just a job.
For some, the experience might not have been so magical in their minds. Everything isn’t always peachy. Moving so often has its challenges. Your spouse deploying for long periods of time can leave you vulnerable. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh, and you’ll make friends and leave friends. You will get frustrated when your favorite thing is broken by the movers or your spouse’s deployment gets extended.
This is all part of it. You are a military spouse.
When the day comes that you are no longer the spouse of an active duty service member your life will change. You will embark on a new adventure, but the memories you have made will remain part of you.
You served your time just as your spouse did. You earned the right to keep that honor.
The same notion holds true for military spouses who divorce their sponsors. Yes, your official relationship with both the military community and service member has ended. You may feel sad or angry at the onset but looking back you’ll still have the memories of great times as a family. You experienced the same events and emotions as any military spouse.
Some may disagree. You’ll be judged, even if people proclaim that they do no such thing. You may feel ostracized and lose all your connections within the community. It doesn’t matter what they say; you aren’t talking to them anyway. You were part of something special, no matter how long that was.
You are a military spouse, former military spouse if you prefer, but you will never be an ex-military spouse. None of us will.
How do you feel? Is there such a thing as an ex-military spouse?