(Photo: Meg & Brett Reichert, and son, Noah)


Discovering A New Identity As A Soldier's Wife

By Meg Reichert

Many wives, like me, meet their soldier and then feel like they have to give everything up to have the life with the person they want. This is such a common story, and one that sometimes has a happy ending and sometimes has a very sad ending.

 

I was in my late twenties when I met my soldier. I had finished my undergrad, worked in the professional world for a few years and had returned to graduate school for my masters of counseling. I had HUGE plans for myself. I was planning on finishing school, taking the national certification exam, and high-tailing it to Washington DC to pursue my dreams of working with children in the city that I loved.


But in walked the handsome, witty, funny man of my dreams (y’all he’s deployed right now so all I have is love in my heart). While we were dating we both kept saying how I could still pursue my dreams of working with children and families, traveling all over the country (or world), raising our children (and raising them without paying for years of their own therapy years later). And while I’m sure this works for a lot of families, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be a reality for my family.


 Fast forward to our first year of marriage - at a brand new duty station, no less - and I was on the struggle bus, big time! I love traveling and starting over in new places, so that wasn’t the problem.


What I was having a hard time with was creating an identity for myself that wasn’t related to my husband and his career.


I tried getting my counseling license (a really annoying process in any state), and getting a job. This took almost a full year to make happen. I was so excited and determined that this was what I needed to figure myself out-I was a career woman, after all!


Surprise! Shortly after I took this job we found out we were pregnant. I was overjoyed about this baby. I knew I could do it all-be an Army wife, have my career and baby. Needless to say, I got overwhelmed pretty fast. My marriage struggled and I was stressed all the time. So, I left my job.


It wasn’t even a discussion with my husband. He came home from three weeks in the field and I told him I was quitting. He never even blinked (this is one of the many reasons why he’s great). I must have looked as exhausted as I felt because he just said okay.

 

Time passed after I left my job. Our baby grew and I was able to spend the remaining months of my pregnancy planning for the baby and figuring out my life. Now, I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I was able to find the answers for us, for now.


So, here it is: life is fluid and nothing is forever. I say this because I was placing so much emphasis on my career being my identifying factor. And I was hell bent on “having it all”. But y’all, that isn’t a reality. Just like any multitasker can tell you, when you try to juggle too many things at once you’re going to drop something.


For me, trying to juggle my career, a family, my husbands insane schedule and my own mental health was wearing me down, and fast. I bow to the women that do this so easily - and I wanted to be like y’all. But I had to realize, that I am not that person.


I am not the person that can sustain working from sun up to sun down and not even taking a moment to feel the sun. And do you know what I learned from all of this? It is okay to be someone who wants to take a moment. There is nothing wrong with choosing a different path than the one you set out on. Just like there is nothing wrong with changing your mind over and over again.


Life is like a river, it is going to keep moving, you don’t have to push it.

 

As military spouses we oftentimes feel like we have to choose one or the other - a career or our spouse. I’m not sure about the rest of you ladies, but I don’t really feel like it was ever an option. I am married to the man I adore. A man who I would literally travel to the ends of the earth with.


I love my career and I love being able to help others, but right now isn't the season for that. And there are so many ways to help others besides being in practice. Just like there are many other defining things, besides my career, that make me who I am.


I hope that this resonates with some of you, and I hope that you find the answers that you are looking for if you are in a similar place I was in.

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