In June, my significant other, Travis, became a company commander. Since then, life has become harder in ways I was not prepared for.
Fort Bragg is home to hundreds of people whose spouse, fiancťe, or boyfriend/girlfriend is in a leadership position that requires so much from them. I take comfort in knowing Iím not alone in my struggles and maybe someone reading this will know they are not alone either.
Donít get me wrong, I am incredibly proud of what my Travis has accomplished. He has reached a goal he has strived for since his first assignment after flight school. He is amazing at what he does and I am honored to be by his side as he does it. But, it does come at a cost to our personal lives and our relationship.
The hours worked. Let me start there. Long, long hours ó from early morning to late at night. And no, the hours donít end when he comes home. They continue deep into the evening as he coordinates the next dayís activities or works company issues. Where once he would get home between 6 and 7 p.m., giving us plenty of time to relax, talk and have dinner together, we now become enthusiastic about an ďearlyĒ arrival of 8 p.m. And even then, any time his phone rings I know Iíve lost him to work.
During his change of command, the previous company commanderís spouse told me how much she had come to hate her husbandís phone and she wished he didnít have to turn it back in to the Army so she could take a baseball bat to it. I thought she was exaggerating. I now regret passing judgement. I find myself giving his phone looks of derision any time I hear the buzzing of the phoneís vibration notification.
The long hours he works have also caused most of the household responsibilities to fall on my shoulders.
When I get home from my full-time job, thereís cooking, cleaning, laundry and yard work to be done as well as caring for and training our two young pups. It becomes tedious and annoying very fast when help is very limited, not to mention not having the luxury of nearby Family for help and support.
I do, however, consider myself luckier than those who are in my same position but who also have kids to tend to. I canít imagine having a full-time job, dogs, household chores and children during this time. I have some serious respect for those who do.
I donít get on Travisí case about helping around the house because I understand the stress and responsibilities he has as a commander. But if he could just find the time to change the tricky kitchen light bulbs (that I put on the kitchen counter for him a week ago) it would be a big help.
Our weekends are not quite ours anymore either. In the case of a weekend that he doesnít have to work, he is still tethered by his cellphone. I feel for him, there hasnít been a Saturday or Sunday this football season that heís been able to watch an entire game.
My neighbor, whose husband is also a company commander, recalled many times when their weekend plans had been altered because of unit demands. We now try not to make concrete plans and I know I must remain fluid. When changes arise, I know I will ďadjust fire and move on,Ē as the Army has taught us to do so many times.
Being prior service, I understand the role of a Soldier, training requirements and deployments. But now being on the other side of the spectrum as a significant other to a servicemember, Iím faced with new challenges. Maybe I was naÔve to think we would continue as we had prior to the command, but I know now this is the new normal for us and as with any big change, there are growing pains but we will find our stride, eventually.
Despite all the new challenges we face, I know he is living a dream and I couldnít be happier for him. His unit and the Army are better because they have made him a leader and for that I will always be okay with giving up a weekend and listening to the never-ending buzz of his phone.