“I totally understand what single mothers go through now,” I said to the Good Chaplain while he was off on deployment. I remember thinking I did not get married and have children only to be a single parent. My only saving grace was I could call him with any problems. I’m not sure all single mothers have that option.
Unfortunately, this is something that happens when you marry the military. You are married, but in many ways, you are still single. Whether it is long hours, temporary duty, or deployments, you are on your own A LOT.
Basically, you are going to raise the children on your own. When we lived in Georgia, the Good Chaplain was gone so much in our third year that the girls called him the guest. “Mommy, we should let the guest get his food first.” “Why is the guest sleeping in your bed Mommy?” We’d laugh, but it still stings the Good Chaplain whenever we mention it. He did not like being away from us, and your spouse doesn’t either. Trust me.
A friend once told me to treat your spouse like a visitor for the first few days after deployment, just so they can observe how things changed in the household. While her husband was gone, one of the children learned to cross the street by themselves. But Hubby did not know that, and he spanked the child for crossing the street to go play with friends. She had to tell him it was okay; the children were allowed to cross the street now.
As the sole parent at home, enforcing rules and regulations will fall on your shoulders. The Good Chaplain would ground the girls from playing or watching television after school until I pointed out to him that he was punishing me as well because I had to enforce it.
The other drawback is you end up going to many official functions alone, especially as your spouse moves up in rank and expectations increase. You will become the ambassador, representing your spouse. Most of the time, this is okay, but sometimes it is awkward. You have to suck it up and do it anyway, as the Good Chaplain would say.
Or, you can get an escort. When the Good Chaplain deployed to Africa, one of his chaplains, a single man, asked the Good Chaplain if it was okay for him to escort me on occasion. We didn’t want to start any gossip. If it was an official event, it helped to have a partner. If it is a social event, you can choose whether to go or whether you want an escort or not.
You will learn to raise your kids alone or go to events solo, but you probably won’t like it. As I told the Good Chaplain, “I did not sign up for this to be alone.” It’s the nature of the game, and you will get used to it. But first, ask yourself if you are strong enough to be married but single.
Next time I will answer the question, “Am I willing to not make plans far in advance or cancel them because of your husband’s schedule?“
What issues have you had with being “single” while married? Answer in the comments below.