Military spouses do more than just hold the fort down while their husbands and wives are away, sometimes for months at a time; they uniquely serve as ground anchors for their service member spouses, providing those leaders the unhindered ability to give their full attention to serving our country. A solid, happy marriage—one of the many qualities these six authors have in common—can make the difference between a distracted, unhappy individual and a focused, positive leader. The six of us knew from the beginning of our spouses’ military careers what sacrifices would be required, and we willingly took on the responsibility. After all, we love our country, too. It was a profound honor to support our spouses as they rose to become leaders in the U.S. Armed Forces.
What did we do to support them? We loved them, prayed for them, encouraged them, understood their difficult schedules, saw moving every few years as an adventure, learned how to be independent, kept busy and happy, tried not to complain or be demanding, attended hundreds of receptions and conferences cheerfully, and, of course, did the lion’s share of household management and child rearing. We also made sure they knew how proud we were of them.
That’s not to say we were always model spouses. We’re as human as anyone, and military life was often difficult and a burden. Even homecomings weren’t always a honeymoon: when your spouse comes home after a yearlong deployment, he or she might forget that you’ve been the one in charge. You’ve been the one getting the brakes fixed, changing the swamp-cooler motor on the roof, attending the kids’ school meetings, helping with homework and science fair projects, doing the taxes, mowing the lawn, cleaning up kid vomit and baby poop, taking the pets to the vet, putting up the Christmas tree, and doing all the shopping—and suddenly they think they’re the boss, and they’re disrupting your finely tuned schedule. It’s tough to assimilate back into home life—for both spouses. We had to speak our minds honestly, but also be kind. The one at home and the one deployed had both had it hard, and we needed to communicate and understand each other. There was no room for resentment.
It has been an honor and a privilege to watch our spouses reach the highest enlisted levels in the military, knowing that we’ve been an integral part of their journey. Supporting our spouses and helping them become the leaders they are today has been our unique way of serving our countr