Grass Isn’t Always Greener: The Truth of Military Retirement Life

by Tiffany Haywood, Guest Contributor

The day my husband came home and told me he was retiring from the Army it wasn’t out of the blue. He served his time and we both knew a decision had to be made. Yet what did it mean for him, for us– as a couple and as a family?

It meant we would no longer be that Army family next door. We would be civilians!

The Truth of Military Retirement Life

My Fantasy

Civilians. I had so many ideas and expectations of what that meant. No more getting up to make breakfast before PT, washing sweaty stinky uniforms and trying to figure out how to get the Hawaiian red clay out of them, translating the acronym language all soldiers seem to speak and even getting the chance to learn someone’s first name instead of only their last. I literally had friends we considered family that I had never called by their first names. I was almost giddy in anticipation. This civilian life was going to be great!

We would have him home! Home with us! OK, so let me see. This meant more family time, we could take trips, he would be there for school plays, recitals and achievements. Oooh and I would not have to be that single married mom anymore. The one everyone looked at sadly as I explained he was deployed or working or down range. I would finally have a husband everyone could see. Like with their eyes. Right next to me. Oh yes, retirement was something I was ready for. This was going to be perfect. I was ready for our civilian lives to start.

Reality Bites

The week after his official retirement date my kids had doctor appointments. I thought nothing of it as we lined up for all 3 of them to have their annual physicals. We checked in and waited for our names to be called. I heard our name and got up to head toward the exam rooms but instead was called to the front desk.

Ma’am, it seems like your husband has retired recently?”

Yes.

“OK, well you’re no longer assigned to this clinic. You need to contact Tricare and decide whether you want Prime or Standard and then go forward from there.”

Umm. Can we reschedule until I can get everything settled? Yes? Thank you.

What in the world? I have had my issues and struggles with Tricare like any other military spouse but this was crazy. I thought being retired meant we were set for life? (Yeah, I did– don’t judge me). This was the very first smudge in my vision of how perfect our civilian life was going to be. Unfortunately it was the first of many.

He’ll Be Home

Despite my run in with retired Tricare benefits, the first few months of our civilian life were total bliss. Hubby was home. We had big family breakfasts together, he took the kids to school, to the park and everything was fitting into my plans perfectly. Well sorta.

One day I go to the kitchen to start one of our now favorite things- breakfast. I go to grab my spices and instead I find mugs. Hmmm. Then I go to the mug cabinet and find dishes. Huh? What miserable little elf came into my kitchen and rearranged things? There were no elves, it was my husband. Apparently he was “looking for something” and when he found it he felt it should have been in a better place. This was when he took it upon himself to reorganize the entire kitchen!!

He had spices I use daily so high up I would need a chair to get them. Dishes in the oddest place ever and–worse of all– he had my coffee station moved and the coffee pot was on one side of the room with the coffee, sugar, etc. all the way across the room!! What had taken over this man and caused him to lose his ever lovin’ mind? Mess with my kitchen? What was he thinking?

That’s it. This man needs a hobby. I can’t have him all in my work area. My home has a system and a way that works and he was just all in it and yeah, he had to find something to do. School. School would be a good thing.

Hubby started school and it gave him somewhere to be everyday. He needed that. As a soldier, structure was a major part of his life and after a few months of being home we realized he needed that back or else he would simply drive me nuts within my own 4 walls.

Still, with him in school my dreams of our family pick-up-and-go trips went out the window. He wasn’t as present anymore because he was always in school or studying for school. What was going on?

My ideal civilian life was suddenly not as ideal anymore. It was starting to feel more like our Army life. THIS was not what I wanted.

He’s Still a Soldier

Despite my best efforts, my husband is not a civilian. He is still a soldier. He couldn’t just turn it off when he retired from the Army. He needed his structure, he needed each hour to have purpose and he needed goals and to know he was accomplishing something with each day.

All my dreams and fantasies of him just hanging around the house with the kids and I were like torture to him. So when he came home and announced he was going back to work in the law enforcement field, I was upset but not shocked. I knew this life was in his DNA and to make him deny it would have been cruel.

Perfected Perspective

My perspective, the way I looked at what being civilian meant to our family had to change. I had to see us for who we are: a retired soldier and his family. We I had to accept our own version of perfect and then work it to the fullest. We may not spend our days lounging in the house and taking trips but any day that isn’t a work day is a family day. My husband may not be seen mowing the lawn on a Saturday or even cheering at every activity but he is that man who provides, supports and protects his family at all costs.

Let’s face it, I may still be that single married mom but I know that even when he is absent he is always supporting everything we do. This is our perfection and for now, this is our civilian life. I may not have him home with me every day but I know he is only a phone call away.

Guess what else? I always know where my coffee is!

FallProfileBorder (1)Tiffany aka MrsTee is the owner/writer for MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter.com. Tiffany enjoys sharing her Love of God, the Life she is blessed to have with her Family (4 beautiful kiddies and 2 handsome stepsons) and the Laughter she finds along the way. Get to know her more on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I love this post!! I am a civilian, married with kids, and this is so eye opening and engaging yet relatable all at once. Thank you for this.

    • Thanks Allison!! It is definitely a life that had it’s own adventures…LOL Thank you so much for coming by!

  2. This is a very thoughtful post! I really like your honest, mature perspective. I really like the very specific details that you included in your descriptions (“red hawaiian clay”, etc.). Thank you for sharing!!!

    • Thank You! Yes, that Hawaiian Clay was something to reckon with – once it was there it did not want to leave! LOL Thank you for reading…

  3. First of all, thanks to your husband for serving! I hung on to every word of your story. As a civilian, I don’t have a clue as to what happens when a person retires from the military. What an eye opener. So glad your husband found the perfect job for him and even more that your coffee maker is in it’s proper place.

    • Hi Alli! Thank you so much. We are very proud of him. It can be a big change but I am glad we are finding our place – oh and that my coffee maker is back where it belongs! 😀

  4. Any kind of major change in your life can definitely bring with it a serious adjustment phase. I’m the world’s worst about having rose colored glasses on when going into a new phase of life, and every time, I’m disappointed and my husband has to talk me down again. I hope all of these new issues resolve themselves as you move into this new phase!

    • So true Natalie. I am the same way! My glasses are always on and a true shad eof rose but luckily I have a hubby (like you) who can talk be down as wel 🙂 They have and we are enjoying the life we have now. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

  5. Aw, WOW!! What an AWESOME reality though Tiffany. As you shared it’s totally not always greene FACTS of life indeed.

    ….the one thing that is constant in life is change. It’s good that he is able to do something during his spare time because just like you shared, you already have a system in place and how dare he disrupts that (LOL).

    We all go through changes in life. Good thing is that you both are able to work through it and develop a game play moving forward.

    Janelle McLeod – Her Online World

    • Hi Janelle! It is a great life but like everything there is always good and bad but I think the most important thing is to always approach both as a family…that is the only thing that gets us through.

      Yes girl…He moved my coffee!! LOL…so done.

      Thank for coming by 🙂

  6. My hubby is Air National Guard, and I live the extended single married parent life at least once per year. There are so many adjustments and concessions that come with being a military spouse.

    • Yes, that living single while married thing can be so frustrating at times. Still we do it because we love our husbands and the lives they have chosen. Thank you to you and your husband for his service. Thanks for coming by Jeanae!

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