This is written by Kristen Lee Qunell, proud military spouse and Pets for Patriots volunteer.
Recipe for a military spouse:
1 1/2 cups patience
1 lb. adaptability
3/4 cup tolerance
1 tsp. courage
Dash of adventure
Combine the above ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons of elbow grease. Marinate frequently with salty tears. Pour off excess fat. Sprinkle lightly with money. Season the mixture with international spices. “Knead” the dough until payday. Bake 20 years, or until done.
I came across this recipe recently while browsing around online and found it quite clever. After I thought about it, the recipe really does sum up what it takes to succeed as a military spouse. This got me thinking about what I would add to the recipe to give it my own “flavor.”
Married to the military
Technically, I have only been a military spouse for six months – but I’d say I’ve been married to the military for closer to five years. I have lived through pre-deployments, post-deployments, multiple deployments, mobilizations, training weekends – you name it. Although being a military spouse is never easy, keeping busy and finding outlets that help me cope with my feelings lessens the pain. Experiencing deployment is like nothing else I have ever done, emotionally and physically. Surviving multiple deployments has changed my perspective on life and I am amazed at all that I’ve learned about the military, my husband and myself. Almost finished with a third deployment, I am proud of the relationship my husband and I have but, I will be honest, it hasn’t always been peachy keen.
ONE is the loneliest number
Military spouses face unique challenges in their changing roles when a spouse is deployed. Not only do I have a full time job, but when my husband deploys, I immediately become the primary caretaker/provider for all things “us.” Handling separations for extended and unknown amounts of time is one of the hardest parts of being a military spouse for me. When my husband is away, I find I experience a roller coaster of emotions, some of which include loneliness, fear, anger and anxiety. I can handle the stress, the separations, the ambiguity, but it doesn’t mean I don’t get overwhelmed. In another article I just read, the author remarks that the loneliest days as a military spouse are not the special days or holidays, but the ordinary days. It’s this in-between time when people are busy with their own lives that they assume you are, too. But, in reality, you’re still alone. So how do I get through the separations, crazy, stress-filled days and lonely nights? I’ll tell you.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
My husband and I have four dogs: Baby, Buddy, Ben and Fern. Some would call me a dog fanatic. Some would call me a crazy dog woman. I prefer the terms “passionate” or “animal lover.” Call me what you wish—I love dogs.
Baby, Buddy, Ben and Fern are the one constant that I have in my life to help me through the good times and the bad. I am never alone because of them and I am never truly lonely because of the love they give me. Our dogs keep me company every day and provide security during the long nights when my husband is away. They constantly surprise me by their keen abilities to sense exactly what I am feeling — loving me just so when I am sad or depressed and keeping their distance when I am feeling discouraged or angry. Their silly antics give me a good laugh, which always cheers me up and immediately reduces any tension or fears.
Our dogs don’t take the place of my husband while he’s away, but they do provide a much-welcomed distraction from the day-to-day stresses of being a military spouse. What’s more, our dogs create an instant, positive connection between my husband and me. They are always a topic of conversation for us— together we talk about each of their personalities, we laugh and joke about them and we view pictures and videos I make of them.
Recipe for success
So what would I add to make the Recipe for a Military Spouse my own? DOGS, of course! Baby, Buddy, Ben and Fern bring so much happiness and stability into my life – I couldn’t picture a day without them and I certainly would never want to endure a deployment without them!
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” –unknown