Mrs. Salamander married me as a LTJG. She did not come from a military family (neither did I) and she expected, as I did, that once I finished my obligation, that I would stop playing Sailor and come home. Well ... we know how that worked out ... and she reminds me of that bait and switch on a regular basis, still ...
She left behind professional opportunities few have waiting for them at any time in their life, much less in their mid-20s ... for me. She did not "marry up" by any stretch. From the position of her family in society, to her education and business connections, she left all of that behind ... for me. She left her family's home for generations to live places she did not like ... for me.
In the 44 months after I put an engagement ring on her finger - I was deployed 23 months along with a few weeks gone here and there. I left her in a place she did not like with people she did not know - and in a classic "knives club" situation - once she did get to know them she did not like them. She did that for me.
We've been married over 20 years now, 17 of those while I was on active duty with a lot more deployments than those in the first few years.
She only went to one spouse pre-deployment meeting and never went to another. She bluntly said to me, "These things are stupid. I don't need to know about different phase of emotion during deployment - I'm going to get to "anger" and stay there."
She did. One thing about her though - from the counter-protesting as she finished her JD against the Useful Idiots on her campus spouting foolishness against what we were doing in DESERT STORM, to the pounds of her homemade cookies mailed to the four-corners of the earth, to helping my family keep a level head during all the other conflicts I found myself in - I never had a question that at home I had a rock. She was and is my rock.
I never had to worry about what was happening at home. All was secured to my rock. I was able to focus on my mission and my Sailors - because I had not a single worry behind me. That blessing is one you can't put a price on because it is priceless.
I also saw people who did not have what I had. People paying bills on deployment because they could not trust their spouse with money. Girlfriends doing things not suitable for discussion. I've been jolted awake in the middle of the night in the middle of the Atlantic for "man overboard" because a Sailor went straight from reading a "Dear John" letter in his rack, to running to the stern of the ship, past AIMD and over the fantail. Never saw him again.
I've seen people put themselves and their Sailors in danger because they were distracted by people at home who just decided that they and their need for drama was more important than anyone else in the world.
There is no greater gift in the world to a servicemember than that of a great spouse or partner. Contrary to what some people may think - there is no such thing as "destiny." There is no such thing as "only one" person you can fall in love with. If that were true, no widow or widower would ever re-marry; no one would recover from a broken heart.
No, you can make choices in life - and to my NY National Guard Shipmate let me offer you this bit of advice - Jonathan, let her go. Stick with the plan. Never look back. If she comes back, walk away faster.
If a reader hasn't read it yet - I am talking about Jessica Nicastro's very honest article in the NYT, "A ‘Temporary’ Boyfriend Deploys."
Read the whole thing. Jessica sounds like a fine person I guess, but she should have nothing to do with a man in uniform. Nothing.
My temporary boyfriend likes to explain his decision to re-enlist by saying, “Chicks dig the uniform.”Take your present with grace and walk away. Look after your Soldiers and come home. Trust me, there are more great women out there - if that is what you want - who have a better personality fit for you and your future.
If that were true, his relationship status wouldn’t be temporary.
That’s right. I’m dating an intelligent, brave, funny, handsome veteran who is preparing to redeploy to Afghanistan for a year, and I’m breaking up with him when he leaves.
I’m afraid that the loneliness that is starting to seep into his being, the loneliness that he will feel the full weight of once he puts on his uniform and that will sit in the pit of his stomach throughout the deployment, is contagious. I don’t want to share that burden with him. In fact, I’m afraid of catching it from him. Ending our relationship feels like my only option, the only vaccine.
He has told me that getting to know me has been a gift in his life. So, in return, on his 27th birthday — which just so happens to be his deployment day — I will help him celebrate by taking away his gift and walking away. Walking back to a life where you actually get to eat cake on your birthday, and keep your presents.
Don't waste a decade or more you will never get back on someone who will never be what she needs to be to be with you.
You are the one deploying; your life is on the line; you are the one serving. In her article there are about 91 "I, me, mine" or variations of the above; 64 "he, him, his," and only 13 "we, us."
That is your warning.