The Top 10 Perks of Being a Marine Spouse
by Erin Whitehead, 2010 Marine Spouse of the Year
Some days I have a love/hate relationship with the Marine Corps. And then there are the days when I have a HATE/HATE relationship with the Marine Corps. It’s on those days when I have to dig deep to remind myself that this life we have chosen is not always bad… and that even when it stinks, there is some humor to be found along the way.
So if you are having an “Oohrah, I love the Marine Corps” kinda day, tuck this away for one of those “I never wanna hear that stinkin Marine Corps Hymn as long as I live” kinda days. ‘Cause I promise, one might be right around the corner. And if you can’t find something to laugh about, you might be that woman on the news in your curlers and slippers who was found in Wal-Mart ranting about civilians that just don’t understand. I care about you… I don’t want you to embarrass your children on TV. So without further ado, my Top 10 Perks of Being a Marine Spouse…
10) If you are about to marry a Marine, please read this before you register for your china. Don’t waste time looking at fancy glassware to serve up mixed drinks with your friends. First of all, most Marines prefer a can or a Dixie cup. But more importantly, after the first few Marine Corps Balls you will have an entire set of cool glassware commemorating the various years of the USMC’s birthday. After 10 years of Marine Corps Balls, you will be drinking out of them at dinner. After 20 years of Marine Corps Balls you will be giving them as Christmas gifts. So register for something useful, like your favorite curtains in a variety of shapes and sizes… guaranteed to fit whatever base housing you move into next
9) When all your civilian friends are paying $4.00 a pound for chicken breasts at the grocery store, you are getting a package of chicken breasts that have just been reduced to 20 cents a pound at the commissary! My heart beats a little faster when I think of the 20 cases of kids’ Suave shampoo I bought at a case-lot sale two years ago. Each bottle ended up being like 40 cents. So everyone in the house, including the dog smells, like Strikin Strawberry! (Note: TMO will not move 20 cases of shampoo for you, so only do this at the beginning of a tour at your new duty station.)
8) Do you hate your neighbor’s dog that barks at all hours of the night? Do you despise the fact that your town has more tattoo parlors than good restaurants? Are you sick and tired of that one really annoying PTO Mom who seems to be perfect and always sends in $500 professionally wrapped gift baskets for Teacher Appreciation Day? Never fear, my dear! The Marine Corps doesn’t want you to have to suffer through all these things for more than… oh let’s say three or four years. Before you know it, your Marine will come home and say those famous three words: “We have orders.” And you can say goodbye to that duty station and start on a new adventure. Don’t worry. By the time the Marine Corps decides to move you BACK to that base in three years, there will probably be at least one new restaurant and that PTO mom will be in rehab.
7) We all know that the Corps likes to dish out mandatory fun for our Marines. But one of my favorite parts of being a Marine spouse is the mandatory honeymoon. Thanks to our frequent deployment schedule, there are some spouses who get to welcome their Marine back home at least once a year. After you haven’t been together for seven or eight months, all those things that annoy you about your hubby seem cute again… just like when you were newlyweds. By the time he starts to get on your nerves, he will be gearing up for that next deployment. And yes, homecomings can be a little overwhelming… but man, oh man, there is something to be said about the attention (and lovin’) you will get from your Marine after he has been sleeping in the sand next to smelly men for seven months!
6) As a Marine spouse, there is one thing for certain… you will never, EVER get bored of your house. Even if you are at one duty station for four years, it doesn’t mean you will stay in one house. You may start off in base housing, then decide to move off-base. And the people that have rented that house next to you will be foreclosed on, and you will have to move to your parents’ house for six weeks with your one-year old while your husband is in Spain. Or you might move to Florida just in time for hurricane season, get a huge hole in your roof during Ivan and have to move to base housing, only to realize a year later that the schools stink in that area and your daughter is starting kindergarten, so you move out in town. You laugh, but all this has happened to our family. We have been in our current house for two and a half years and I can already feel these walls closing in on me. I may need to buy all new furniture… or knock down a few walls, or something.
5) Speaking of furniture, you won’t ever get bored of that either. Sure, you may LOVE your leather couch, but you may not enjoy it as much when TMO accidentally loses one of the cushions and tears a hole in the back. And no matter how much you adore your Beanie Baby collection, after you have moved all 435 of them six times you will be selling them at a garage sale for a quarter… along with everything else you have decided it’s not worth keeping since your hubby decided it would be fun to try a cross country DITY move. Besides, when you get to that new house you may find that your dining room table will be spending the next three years broken down under your queen-size bed. The good news is that you get to go buy all new TV trays for the whole family!
4) You are reminded of what is great about America, every single day. When my Marine is home, I remember that there are great people serving our country when he walks in the door in his cammies. When I take my daughter to the movies on base, we stand before the film for the National Anthem and kids as young as two stand with their hands upon their hearts. When I am on base around sunset, I stop in reverence for a few minutes while Taps is played, remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice. When my husband is gone, I am reminded of the kindness of people who thank ME for my service, or offer a helping hand with yard work or carpooling. When he comes home and talks about how different things are in other countries, I am reminded that we are the luckiest humans on the planet.
3) You will learn things about yourself that may simply amaze you. All of the trials of being a Marine spouse seem daunting to me, even after 10 years with my husband. But I realize that I am a much stronger person than I ever imagined. I am independent when I need to be and am smart enough to know when to ask for help. I still can’t fill the windshield wiper fluid in my car, or start the lawn mower… but I budget wisely and pay someone else to do those things. There are still times when I sit sobbing in my bathrobe at 3 a.m., because he is on duty and I am convinced there is a monster under the bed after watching a Halloween episode of a sitcom on Nick at Nite. But then there are the times when he is deployed, my daughter has the stomach flu, the dog just rolled in a pile of mud, the washing machine is making that weird noise again and the garage door mysteriously keeps opening on its own and won’t stay shut. Somehow I keep it all together, take care of my daughter, bathe the dog, ignore the washing machine sound until Monday and miraculously figure out how to disconnect the automatic garage door opener while the door is down. And I feel like Superwoman. Until Monday, when the washing machine repair man is here and all of a sudden… I get the stomach flu.
2) You will meet some of the best friends of your lifetime while you are a Marine spouse. You may only get the pleasure of living close to them for a few months or years, but you are blessed to have them in your life forever. They are the ones who answer the phone at 3 a.m. when you are sobbing in your bathrobe… and they don’t think you’re nuts. When you just have to have a meal that is not offered in your little town, they hop in the car with you and all the kids and drive 90 miles to the closest Olive Garden. They are the ones that will help you get in the shower after you had surgery, because your husband is deployed. They sit there and talk to you until it’s time to help you drag your naked body back out. And years later when you have been apart for too long, you can still show up at their house on vacation and it’s like nothing has changed. The absolute hardest thing about being a Marine spouse, hands down, is saying goodbye to friends. But it is a price I am willing to pay in order to have all these incredible women in my life… from sea to shining sea and beyond.
1) I love and respect all members of the military and the people who support them and serve with them every day. It doesn’t matter to me what branch you or your spouse serve. But I do have to say that there is one DISTINCT advantage to being the spouse of a United States Marine, and no other branch can come close to beating the Corps in this regard. Those incredible Dress Blue uniforms. There is just nothing sexier than my husband in those dress blues… awww, let’s face it… anyone in blues. Quasi Moto would be a stud in those things. My favorite night every year is the Marine Corps Ball. Getting to dress up in a fancy gown and being escorted into the room by my very own Marine. And let me tell you, he has some serious bling on that uniform, you can hear it jingling like Santa from a mile away. My very own hero… oohrah! No night helps us to remember the great tradition of the Marine Corps like the night of the ball. When the band plays the hymn and we all stand while watching that huge cake being brought into the room, my heart swells with pride. When the colors are presented, I have to wipe a tear from my eye. And later on after all the ceremony is over and the drinks are flowing, there is just nothing better than watching a sea of Marines and their dates dancing and singing the words to “Baby Got Back” on the dance floor. Those Marines know how to fight… and they know how to party. Next year my husband won’t be here for the ball for the first time in 10 years. I will miss it, but luckily they don’t take those dress blues with them where they deploy. Anytime I want, I can go into the closet, unzip that clothing bag and think of the next time I will see my husband in that uniform. I can straighten all the Eagle Globe and Anchors and remember what the Corps stands for. I can run my hand over his many medals and smile with pride at what he has accomplished. I can look at his chevrons and think back on those early years when there were no rockers, and a lot less paycheck. And I can look down at the blood stripe that runs down the leg of the trousers and say a prayer for those who have sacrificed all… then pray with all I have that my Marine makes it home safely.
Many Kind Regards,Erin