Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Should You Become a Navy Wife? Pros & Cons of Military Life

I’ve gotten a lot of comments and questions lately from Navy Girlfriends who are just plain curious about what they are getting themselves into - what will the Navy Life be like if this relationship goes all the way? It’s difficult being the partner of someone joining the military or dating someone who is already in it because they are your only source of what you are getting yourself into and every Navy GF quickly realizes the information you are getting is second-hand.

What if your partner is only aware of what it will be like for the Sailor and not for you? What if the recruiter isn’t giving your partner accurate info? What if your partner is only being told the good parts? Or what if your partner might be afraid to tell you anything that would make you worried?

photo credit: familymwr via photopin cc
The truth is – not knowing is scarier than the truth and being misled will lead to more trouble in the future. So what are the pros and what are the cons? Below is my list and this is a list based on the idea of a Navy Girlfriend becoming a Navy Wife, so keep in mind that certain things like pay, benefits, and college tuition won't apply unless you are married. I’m going to ask other Navy Wives to add to this list on our FacebookForum so please check that out too.

Keep in mind all of the cons have a pro so don't freak out reading through the cons list. Make sure you get to the pros too.


photo credit: DVIDSHUB via photopin cc
No matter what rumors you have heard, if your partner is joining the Navy, you will be separated for long periods of time. There is no such thing as a non-deployed Sailor. If there is, it’s so rare, I wouldn’t count on it.

I’m not going to lie to you. Deployments suck! Being separated from him/her will be one of the hardest things that you can do, but there are millions of women out there who are strong enough to do this and so are you.

It’s not just every once in a while that he/she goes away either. Most sailors have to do detachments on top of deployments. The deployments are the long 6-10 month trips that happen on average every 1.5 years and the dets are between 2-4 weeks long and happen more frequently than deployments but only while on sea duty.

You do get a break from deployments though. It's four years on, three years off. So the Sailor will do four years sea duty (he/she will deploy) and three years shore duty (he/she doesn't deploy).

When he is away, there will probably be times when you feel left out and left behind because he’s doing this big important thing while you are left at home. There will be times when you will be sad and miserable with loneliness. You will have to face problems that are not the type of thing you are used to facing, like in my case finding a dead mouse stuck in my washing machine. That is so a boy type of problem! 

It's not all bad though, we are just in the cons section. There is a pro to separation too. 

                                                     Long Hours/No Overtime
photo credit: WarzauWynn via photopin cc
The Navy doesn’t do shift work. Everyone works on salary, which means that they work as many hours and weekends as needed to get the job done. How long those hours are and how often they are will depend on your partner’s job and location. Some jobs won't even require 8 hours where others will keep him there 12-16 hours on a regular basis.
     Frequent Moves
    Although the Navy will pay to move you, and it’s kind of cool getting to see new places, moving is a stressful thing and it’s hard mentally. I’ve gotten depressed every time we’ve moved. It’s hard to be uprooted and taken away from friends and family. It’s hard on your children too. And you don’t always get the final say in where you end up.

     Social Inhibitors 
    One of the things that all Navy Wives struggle with is making friends, and it doesn’t matter if you live on or off base. The reason for this is that most of the people Navy Wives come in contact with are other Navy Wives and most times Navy Wives are afraid to get close to people because everyone moves eventually. It’s hard losing people again and again. It’s hard to make civilian friends too because you move so often, and even if you fight it, you'll get that mentality too. Plus, you will automatically have less in common with civilians because you have different lifestyles by being in the Navy.


    photo credit: javaturtle via photopin cc

    Yeah. There’s a pro to being separated. A couple actually, enough to warrant bullet points!

    • When he’s away, you get to be in charge of everything. You get to have everything your way. You get to do what you want, when you want. If you live with someone or get married, this is actually really nice!

    • You have so much free time, you can take on all kinds of personal goals and projects, like going back to school, or in my case, publishing a novel.
    • You also get to have a unique perspective on your relationship. When you are apart, it is easier to identify issues in the relationship and re-evaluate how to resolve them without the confusion of being so close to the problem. 
    • The coolest thing is that when he does come home, it will be like you go back to those first stages of the relationship, the honeymoon stage, when you are super lovey dovey and can’t get over each other. Most couples never get to experience that more than once.
    • You get higher pay when he is away, and if you are good with money and he is careful not to go nuts in port, you can save a huge chunk of cash while he is away and use it for a big vacation or a new car or save for your children’s college fund. 
    photo credit: US Army Africa via photopin cc

    • Medical, Dental, Optometry, Prescriptions, as long as you are married, you and your children will be completely covered. I occasionally had to pay small co-payments, and I had to pay for some larger dental treatments, like wisdom teeth extraction, but man was it nice to not worry about coverage in general. 
    • You also have retirement if he does his 20 years, and you both have life insurance. 
    • He also has the GI Bill, which pays for his schooling or yours. Recent changes now allow the GI Bill to be used by spouses and children too. In addition to the GI Bill, the Navy provides Sailors Tuition Assistance while they are in the Navy. 
    • Plus, you have all the benefits on base, like tax free shopping, a big gym, swimming pools, rec center, and other educational and professional resources.
    • It’s nice to know the Navy has your back. Obviously, really bad behavior will get you kicked out of the Navy, but people still aren’t “let go” the way they might be in the civilian world. Even when the Navy is downsizing, they don't just kick you out. The Sailor would be allowed to finish his or her tour.
    Photo Cred: idfonline via photopin cc
    • You also have the security of health benefits and the other perks I mentioned in the benefits bullet. 
    • Not to mention a plethora of programs that are available for military members and their families to help them in case of a financial emergency or with scholarship funds and even help getting jobs.  
    • You will also have a level of financial stability that most people do not have. You get cost of living and extra pay when you have dependents (but not per dependent). There are also other pay pumps depending on location and deployments.

    Seeing New Places
    If your partner plays it right, you guys can be moved to all kinds of neat and awesome places. There are billets in Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, etc. You could see the world.

    Although this isn’t guaranteed. Those cool destination billets won't always be open for his job either. You don't always get your first choice of where you go. Or like me and my husband, you'll choose to further his career. My husband and I went a total of two places: Nevada and California, which is where we are from, but that was okay because we were near family.

    This list is far from complete. In fact, I’ll probably need a Part Two. So got something to add? Got a question or thought? Leave it in the comments or hop on over to the Forum!

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    About Stephanie Carroll
    U&E Founder & Author
    Buy Her Book A White Room!
    Photo by Randy Enriquez
    I dated and married my husband in 2004 when I was 19. I felt like an outsider for the first half of our marriage. He didn't understand what I needed to know about the Navy, and I didn't know what to ask.

    After ten years of learning in the Navy, I founded Unhinged & Empowered. I wanted to spread the knowledge that I needed when I was new, to reveal what took years for me to learn.   
    Cover Design by Jenny Q
    In addition to being a Navy Wife, I am also a novelist. I write historical women's fiction.

    My first novel A White Room debuted in 2013 and is about a woman forced to sacrifice her own ambitions of becoming a nurse to marry a man who can save her destitute family. He moves her to a strange, small town where she slowly succumbs to madness until she stumbles on an opportunity to nurse to the poor despite the fact that her husband prosecutes unlicensed practitioners.

    Learn more at and connect with me @CarrollBooks on Twitter, Facebook, or on Pinterest!

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      1. Military life is an adventure for sure. I've been married to my sailor for 15 years and love every bit of it. I think I love moving and seeing different parts of the world the most. I always tell new spouses it's what you make of it. It has it's ups and downs, but there's so many more ups. :)

        1. Thank you MomJonz for that comment. It is so true! =)


      I love, love your comments and questions! Just remember to not mention any security info about your Sailor! Thank you!

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