This week is making me very thankful for the friends in my life. It’s one of the last weeks without my husband to chat with and it’s a friend filled week. 😀 It’s made me realize how supremely lucky I am to have women in my life who want to spend time with me as much as I want to spend time with them. This has taken a bit of time to get to though.
While I have not been a military wife for long, only 2 1/2 years now, I still feel as if I am in a league of my own with my close friends – military and not. Some understand, some have been there – some just still don’t get how hard this is on me. And yet, all of the friends, good and just acquaintances are important in my life.
So far, I have been blessed that I have not had to move in the 5 years I’ve been with my husband. It’s a rarity in military life not to move every three or four years. In that time, I have been able to develop and cultivate friendships as they should be and even lost friendships in the process.
It’s a fine line that wives have to follow. To be the military wife, supportive and strong, never flailing, while adhering to societies growing expectations to be an independent woman, with goals and aspirations…Oh, goals and aspirations. From what I have been able to gather in this process that is my 20’s, friendships – the good ones, need constant attention and dedication just like any good relationship with a significant other. It took me this deployment to realize that without my girlfriends in my life, I am not complete.
It’s corny to say, but since I have met my husband I had felt complete. But about 8 months ago – I looked at him and straight out told him, that just being with him is not enough. I needed him to understand how important girlfriends are in my life. Especially since he is gone so much, I cannot sit at home and feel sorry for myself all the time he is away. Thats just not a productive way to live. So-I went out on a mission to make friends. Now, that really sounds pathetic, doesn’t it. But it’s true – when I got married and got my first job outside of college, I was working 80 hours a week and spending ALL my free time at home with J (my husband). I neglected my friends for him, unknowingly, and when I realized that was happening, it was too late to save some friendships. Since graduating college, it is harder than ever to keep in touch – and thats not just military, that’s just life.
We get into our routines without school, and fall into a rhythm that tends to not include the socializing we did in school. It’s work to maintain friendships, and when you have differences in schedules and less in common than you did in school, friendships tend to dissolve. But when you have those friendships that maintain during the discrepancies, you hold on to it.
So, doing the corny thing – yet again – we, yep WE, got an account on this wonderful social networking site – meetup.com. If you have not heard of it – you should check it out. I really just wanted to meet up, offline, with couples our age and get out of the comfort of being with each other all the time. And it worked – for a little bit – until J and I started developing close friendships with couples from all over of lives that resurfaced – friends of friends, former colleagues and military families.
Then, it came time for him to deploy. This is where the military wives came into the picture “officially” (and really would like it not to be this way – these ladies are amazing and it would be wonderful to spend time with them without a deployment face on). It’s not a common occurrence from what I understand, but this is how the command we are a part of operates. It’s only during a deployment that the family support groups needs to be assembled-supposedly. It’s apparently not necessary to cultivate relationships with other wives during the time in which our significant others are in port and able to spend time with us. So, before deployment I started to cultivate those relationships and come deployment, I was prepared – so far, so good.
Maintaining friendships with military families is a whole other beast. The commonality you have together is the fact your significant other is serving along side their significant other, or even just in the same type of job: military. You almost have to filter through those initial feelings of friendship you may feel based on that connection, and determine quickly if this person and yourself ACTUALLY have something else in common. Many times when, for instance, the sailor is no longer attracted to the same boat and the family moves away – the friendship is over. I thank social networking sites for being able to tackle this type of detriment to friendships.
In one circumstance, I made friends with a girlfriend of another sailor who worked with my husband. We bonded during the first deployment our boys went on, and really we did not have much else in common. I visited her while on a business trip near her and she came down for a weekend to visit me. Her and the boy recently had a bad falling out, and she has apparently moved on happily to another boyfriend. Yet, every conversation we have is about the old and his pursuit of her or other drama in her life he has caused. Right now, we have nothing in common save for the fact she used to date a sailor. And thats all we can talk about. It’s just not that strong of a friendship.
Another gal, had a messy break up with her boyfriend a former sailor, and we still remain close. We are the same age and education level. We have similar interests and reside in San Diego. Good friendship developed from a military connection. And guess what – no talk of the ex! We actually go dancing a lot – a common trait she actually introduced to me in the last few years. This one takes work though – takes time as we are both busy with work and our men, it makes it hard to get together. Yet, through it all – we still remain close as we ever were.
Military significant others cannot be put into a definite description. There are the stereotypes out there: married right out of high school, three kids and wears her husbands rank as her own, etc… There is a reason those stereotypes are out there. But in my experience, the stereotypes are less likely. I think it’s just the fact that I am not a stereotype that I attract those who are not as well. Of those military families I have been close with, one has fit the stereotype and no others. These ladies are wonderful women, with education, drive of their own, motivation and love. While they may never be my best friends, I am open to considering friendship or camaraderie with them in the many years to come.
A friend is a friend in my book – no matter what brought you together – and I grateful to be in a place where there are many in my life. Each serve a unique purpose and for that, I am thankful.