Life

So Who Am I? – The Unmarried Military Spouse

I’m just an ordinary unmarried military spouse trying to adult my way through life, with a hint of what I like to call ‘a crazy brain‘.

You know, those weird ass, mostly nonsense thoughts you have sometimes, where you wonder if anyone else thinks these things…

Well I’m here to tell you they do!

It’s hard isn’t it?

Life!

Having entered the over 30’s category as an unmarried military spouse, I decided a blog might be a good idea (and now a podcast!)

I question everything and try to find my own logic through it. I figured if I write and just one person can relate (and feel a little more ‘normal‘) or learn something new, then my work here is done.

So who am I really? – Not just a military spouse!

Pushing your limits, military spouse, not-wife
I push my limits constantly!

Well, I’m no-one special. I live in a little village in the UK, ‘not married’ to a long-serving army man and have been for over five years now.

What I write isn’t fact, neither is it fiction, it is simply what I know, think and feel. Sharing my experiences with you in the hope you’ll relate; or at least have a new insight into the world of someone else.

I recently had a baby boy in a global pandemic (read about that here) which was pretty traumatic! (I’ll write about it when I feel strong enough to re-live it!) But he is amazing, so all is forgiven! He has two older sisters from my not-husband, and thankfully they love him very much…phew!

So what do I do when I’m not writing?

Well, I used to ‘workout’ twice a week at a military style (veteran owned) bootcamp and do things like walk Mount Snowdon just for fun. I loved to push my limits and really challenge myself fitness wise, but then a baby came along and all that had to stop (more about that here). Leaving your comfort zone now and then is great soul food and I can’t wait to get back to it!

I’m an animal lover with four dogs, yes – four! So you’ll probably find me out walking most days (which has been great during all of the UK Lockdowns). I crave the outdoors and particularly love the coast.

Professionally, I am part qualified as a counsellor, but Baby and a pandemic also put that on hold…so that’s ‘To Be Continued’. Although, I am qualified as a Mental Health First Aider with a focus on the Military Community.

I experience anxiety myself (notice I don’t use the word suffer!) and have had bouts of depression, but why should I let that hold me back from anything? The crazy thoughts are still there, I have just learnt to cope with them more easily. (Credit to my lovely counsellor – more about her another day!)

What else can I tell you?

Well, I’m fiercely independent! Not in a feminist way, I’ve just always wanted to do things for myself and not depend on anyone. (which is ironic as military spouses are known as ‘dependants’). But that isn’t always a good idea! There are times in life where we all need someone. Whether that’s your spouse, parent or a good friend, you need someone you can be your true self with.

I know this all too well, having ridden the emotional roller-coaster that was losing my amazing dad to a terminal illness. Read that one here.

So why am I The Not-Wife?

Well, the urban dictionary says,

Your female partner, life partner, significant other who you are not married to but eternally committed to…

Urban Dictionary

So I guess that’s the answer really. The commitment without the commitment? We live together, I am step-mum (urgh, that word!) to his two children, we now have a child together and we share everything as any married couple would.

Being in the military, everyone assumes you’re already married, which of course many are due to the demands of forces life. But I’ve been asked by welfare or at events like families day, “What’s your surname?” and that doesn’t work when you don’t have his name. What they’re actually asking is, who are you with or who are you linked to? (Click here to read my post about why women take their husband’s surname after marriage)

And why AREN’T we hitched?

Well, because he was scarred for life by the previous one! He’s quite rightfully fearful of another union since the first one ended badly. But he knows we’re not all the same! We are the best of friends, we never argue (we disagree, of course, but I just tell him he’s a dick wrong and we move on hehehe) and we have a ton of fun together.

So, until my wonderful not-husband is brave enough to commit again, I shall forever be his not-wife (which is a good thing because then I’d have to rename this entire blog!)

Marriage

Whilst on our road trip to Scotland in our motorhome, we stopped at Gretna Green and added an engraved padlock to their ‘love lock’ sign. The engraving said ‘Not Husband & Not Wife’, with our names on the back.

Marriage Stats

What I find interesting though, is the divorce rate in the UK is at a 40 year low, with around 42% of marriages ending in divorce (in 2017 – stats aren’t updated that often apparently). Isn’t that still an incredibly high number?! Almost half of all marriages won’t work out?! Why is that?

What there aren’t statistics for, are long term, committed relationships – like the one I’m in – that end after years of a joint life. Do they last longer? Or do they just dissolve without anyone batting an eyelid?!

Second Marriages

Although there are no official figures on second marriages and divorce rates, the Marriage Foundation suggests only 31% of second marriages ends in divorce. Which is good news right? Perhaps in your second marriage you learn to overcome issues more easily and make an extra effort to stay committed? Or is it that the first person wasn’t right for you or it happened a little too quickly. Or maybe too young? The possibilities are endless and every relationship is different, so how can we possibly conclude why second marriages are more successful?!

Military Life and Marriage

In my time as a military spouse, I am very aware that many forces relationships are dictated by the serving persons work life, which can sometimes lead to couples getting a shotgun wedding.

Now this doesn’t mean it is in any way rushed, it simply means that postings hours from home or overseas, deployments or training courses can often bring forward an already planned wedding. Some couples choose to have a simple signing of the register ceremony (the official bit) in order to be together sooner, with a bigger (not always) celebration and/or blessing at a more convenient time. Postings can dictate where you and your family will live and for how long, and that becomes a whole lot easier once you’ve signed that little book!

The military and us…

Loving someone who serves can be incredibly difficult at times, but it’s so worth it! We may spend three months or more apart due to a deployment, but that just makes every day we do spend together all the more precious!

For us, we bought our own house a few years ago, twenty minutes from camp and have settled in a place we both wanted to live. Luckily, we were at a point where we wouldn’t necessarily need to move anywhere (at least not for a while anyway) so it was an easy choice to make.

However; things do change (forces life is ALWAYS changing – learn to expect the unexpected!) and we ended up ‘weekending‘ in 2019.

Weekending? What’s that?

It just means the serving person is away during the week and only home at weekends.

Yes, it sucks!

That Sunday night “he’s leaving again” feeling, coupled with the Friday afternoon “shit, he’ll be back soon and the house is a tip” rush. EVERY WEEK! We were 180 miles apart, but thankfully it only lasted three months!

Weekending certainly has its own highs and lows, like any long distance relationship (more here). You still experience all that life has to throw at you; from love, to loss, to celebration and joy; you just have to learn to experience those things on your own.

Military relationships, military spouse

Modern technology has of course made military life way easier and more bearable. Being able to see and talk to (when the connection actually works!) to someone the other side of the world is just amazing!! Sharing those moments helps you stay connected over the miles.

Over and Out

Well, that’s it from me,

Check out my Instagram for updates!

See you soon and stay strong whatever you’re going through!

Are you a fellow military spouse? What do you love or hate about military life? Are you living with someone but as of yet, unmarried? What contributed to your decision not to marry?

Head to my contact page and get in touch!

Over and Out,

The Not Wife

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