Deployment Is Not the Hardest Part

I have come to a new realization. One that I didn’t think possible.

Deployment is not the hardest part of being married to someone in the military.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want The Pilot deploying more often than he has to. I don’t wish for separation. On the contrary, I am jealous of our time together when he is home. But that’s the thing. Even when he’s “home,” he’s working more than I ever imagined he would be.

yellow-mimosa-flowers

I never anticipated the day-to-day life of being a pilot’s wife to be so… not routine. Because there is no such thing as routine in Marine Corps aviation. Sure, there is a flight schedule but it. changes. every. day.

Some days, The Pilot leaves for work at 3pm and gets home around 1am. The next day, he’ll go in at 7:30am and be home by 4:30.

Like watching a tennis match, some days I feel like I watch him enter and exist our home at such a rapid rate that there isn’t really time for much more than handing him food as he passes and hoping he’ll be home again before I fall asleep.

Some days, he’s on “duty;” a 24 hour shift that necessitates he be at his squadron for a literal 24 hours. Twenty-four-freaking hours. Sometimes he has duty during the week and sometimes he has it on the weekends.

As in, he works weekends.Β 

Sometimes he has cross-country flights over the weekends too. He’ll leave on a Thursday or Friday and come home on Sunday or Monday. No time off before the weekend get-away and no time off once he’s back.

As of now, The Pilot is set to deploy this coming fall and to prepare, he and his squadron will go through what’s known as “work-ups.” Six months of work-ups, actually. When I asked his commanding officer what to expect when it came to that six month period, he looked at me and said,

The question will not be ‘Will he leave this month?’ the question will be, ‘Will he be home this month?

So what’s my point?

Some days, deployment simply feels easier. When they’re gone, you can make plans. You can commit to going places, meeting people, taking trips, etc. While it’s painful when they’re gone, you have the freedom and time to compensate accordingly. You “get on with your life.”

When they’re home, it’s a lot of starting and stopping. But mostly, it’s waiting.

A friend of mine was telling me recently: “We want more kids, but we both want him to be here for the birth, so we’re waiting until after the deployment. Which also means my kids will be further apart in age than I would have liked but having him here is the bigger priority.”

I don’t mean to complain or to paint life as a military spouse as this grueling kind of drudgery. I’m not trying to write some sort of bitter diatribe about how the Marine Corps has ruined my life, ship-wrecked my marriage or stolen all my joy.

All I’m saying is that I have realized that you need just as much prayer, grace, and patience for the seasons in which your husband is home as you do when he’s away.

In the same way that it is expected of you to grieve and struggle and fight the good fight through each deployment, I’m going to go out on a limb and say

It is ok to struggle and grieve and fight the good fight everyday that your husband is home.Β 

May real, true, life-giving love be planted in those routine-less days, where winds of constant change blow. May you sink your roots deep in the soil that is your faith in a God that has called you both to your marriage and the sacrifice of being a military wife.

11 responses to “Deployment Is Not the Hardest Part”

  1. Lacey Salmon says:

    Loved this post and the nitty gritty honesty about the challenges when they’re home. Jesse leaves soon, and I’ll miss him A LOT but it is a special time of planning ahead, ha! Thanks for the encouragement today, 2 Cor 12:9 is definitely a life verse for me!

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much for reading, Lacey! Will this be your first deployment experience? I’ll be praying for you two as you transition πŸ™‚

  2. Rebecca Gandara says:

    Hello πŸ™‚ i just wanted to say that your blogs are encouraging! I love how you just speak about God and the Word!! My boyfriend just left for MCT, i believe thats what its called, and i just wanted to see how marine wives deal with the things that come with this life. Just planning for the future.

    • admin says:

      Praise the Lord! I’m so grateful to hear that you found encouragement here at The Marine’s Wife. I dated my husband through various stages of training too and I can honestly say that being in an intentional relationship through training before you get hitched is one of the best ways to get a good clear picture of what all is entailed when it comes to being married to a marine. I hope that the Lord uses this time to strengthen and grow you both! One thing is for certain, there is never a dull moment!

  3. Rebecca Gandara says:

    If you have any more advice i would appreciate it! πŸ™‚

  4. Emily says:

    Ah this is true. No wishing for deployment but when they’re gone, it’s because they’re a million miles away and they’re not an option. Husband is on USMC recruiting duty (if your hubby hasn’t gone through that, oh Lord. Prepare now), and I feel somehow it’s more difficult when they’re there, but they’re not. They’re within reach, yet inexplicably beyond it. No fun. Yuck

    • admin says:

      Hey Emily! My husband has not had to be a recruiter (yet) but I have heard it’s no easy task. Hopefully you enjoy where you are currently stationed πŸ™‚

  5. Anne says:

    Hi Meredith,

    Will you shed some light on what the work schedule or deployments are like for a Marine pilot? I guess it can depend on what aircraft he flies but can you give me a rough idea please?

    Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hey Anne! Thanks so much for your question. You’re right, it will absolutely depend not only on what aircraft your pilot may fly, but also what fleet squadron he may be a part of, what coast he is stationed on, etc. Every aircraft is different, for obvious reasons, but what squadron he is a part of is key too. When my husband joined his first squadron, they had just returned from Afghanistan. This meant that his squadron was now moved to the bottom of the rung in the deployment rotation. So the work tempo was slowed accordingly. His days weren’t 9-5 by any means, but he was not gone for extended periods of time for training purposes. This brings me to redeployment “work-ups.” When my husband’s squadron was on deck to be deployed, they started extensive and exhaustive training six months before they left. Of those six months, he was only home for three. Work-ups, or any form of preparation for deployment, often mean that the pilots will go somewhere else (in the country) for anywhere from three to six weeks at a time. For example, due to wet weather patterns on the east coast, sometimes squadrons will go to some desert somewhere (i.e. Arizona) to fly all day, everyday, in order to accrue the number of hours or qualifications they need prior to deploying. Because the weather is generally better in the desert for long periods of time they are able to get more done than the would be able to if they stayed at home. Does this help? If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

    • admin says:

      Anne! I am so sorry I never responded to this comment from ummm… LAST YEAR! How embarrassing! This question can be pretty difficult to answer though because like you said, the work schedule for pilots is pretty dependent on what type of aircraft they fly. Can you tell me what your husband selected?

      Besides which specific aircraft you husband may fly, the squadron he is assigned to and the Commanding officers of that squadron will also greatly influence the work-tempo/day-to-day operations. If your husband ends up working in Ops (or the S-3 shop) his days will be long and his desk job will be very demanding. Usually, guys don’t stay in Ops for more than a year, so there is always light at the end of the tunnel!

      I hope this helps! Again, I am so sorry for my delayed response time!

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