I have been doing this Army wife “gig” for a long time and have had the honor and privilege of serving beside Army spouses throughout — for 32 years. This is for you.
I know how special our spouses are, I know how deserving you are of special recognition. And I know how happy I am, and how proud I am, to be counted among that number! I am proud of how resilient we are, how self-reliant, how willing to do for others in their times of need.
No matter how much older than most Army spouses I may be, or how much more senior my husband may be (and he IS a LOT older!) than your soldier, Army spouses and I are peers in that we each have that love for our soldier and an understanding that is unique to us because of common experiences and common concerns: for our soldiers, our children, for our country and so often — when they deploy — for people in other parts of the world.
There’s a Billy Joel song titled “You’re My Home,” and the lyrics say that “wherever we’re together, that’s my home.” That’s beautiful and other Army spouses probably agree with that statement as I do. The singer goes on to sing, “Home is just another word for you,” as he speaks to his beloved. I have always thought that this song is perfect for Army spouses. We’re always most content when we’re each together with our special soldier.
That’s how we’re meant to be.
Army spouses are generally supportive of, and grateful for, the soldiers we married. If you aren’t — or know someone who isn’t — remember that their time away is as tough on them as it is on us. Maybe it’s a different burden to carry, but it is not any easier. In marriage, I believe that both spouses are supposed to give 100 percent. And we should do so lovingly and without keeping score. Sometimes one spouse or the other just cannot give that 100 percent for various reasons — and that’s O.K. The other spouse just continues to give their all. There will be a time when the roles will be reversed. Love is wanting the best for the one you love. In my estimation, anything less is not true love.
Our soldiers are in a profession that often takes them away from their loved ones, and while we spouses are supportive and proud of them, it does not make their absences anymore pleasant, although the reasons should make the separations more bearable.
I always reminded our children, now grown, when their father deployed that he wanted nothing more than to be home with us. But he had a duty to his country and others who needed his help. It always made them, even as little kids, more understanding of his absences. Both of them believe in the idea of living for something greater than themselves, as evidenced by their adult decisions to join the Army (our son), or to join it by marriage to a soldier (our daughter).
The Army life is about sacrifice and thinking of others before yourself. That is so often asked of our soldiers. Too often, in many cases.
Everyone — including our soldiers — needs unconditional love, affirmation and support. Let’s all continue to do that for one another. The Army makes the world a better place by its role in the country and in the world as a force for good. And that Army is made up of our soldiers. Army families can be proud of our soldiers’ part in that, and our own, as well.
I want to thank all of our Army spouses for what you do everyday in support of our soldiers, our families and our nation. And I also want each of you to remember to thank your soldier. You deserve to be thanked, too. But you wouldn’t be a military spouse if it wasn’t for the person in uniform you fell in love with, so I encourage you to thank them once in a while for the selfless service they give every day. And I hope they’ll do the same for you. Maybe you can show them this column as a little nudge to remind them! If you or someone you know is struggling with this relationship, there are resources available to help you individually or as a couple and family. I will talk about some of those in future columns.
Lynda MacFarland is the wife of the III Corps/Fort Hood commanding general. She is a proud Army wife, mom and advocate for military families.