You have to figure all of this out yourself, or learn it from another wife who is bold enough to tell you her story. Wives need to step up, step out and stick together. Marriage in SOF is tough. Really tough. No one tells you that the very same traits that make a good special operations soldier, also make a very difficult marriage partner. The military as a whole makes up less than 0. Members of the special operations community are only about 0.
I got married four years ago with the expectation that my husband would be a lifer in the Marine Corps and that his ultimate career goal was to make it to the SOF community. I knew our marriage would be difficult, but I believed with all my heart that we could make it work. I was not expecting that his career choice would have such a negative effect on our marriage.
In fact, I was blindsided by how much he changed after becoming a member of the SOF community. Here are some of my observations. SOF Marines, namely operators, are highly skilled individuals. They are trained to make big decisions on their own, especially when it comes to mission execution. When they are on a mission, they are trusted to make the right choice so that the desired outcome is reached. While regular Marines have to follow step by step orders from higher ups and only act when told to, operators often make a decision by themselves or with a small group.
This unique ability is vital to the success of the SOF mission. The problem is, the freedom they have in decision-making at work often translates to arrogance, pride and a superiority complex in a marriage.
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Because work consumes so much of their life, I imagine that it is probably pretty difficult to shut off that part of themselves when they are faced with issues from home. One of the things I clearly remember the recruiter telling us about SOF was that on days when he had nothing to do at the office, he would be allowed to go home early to spend time with his family. The prospect of having him home around lunch or after on days when he was not in a course or otherwise engaged, was a pretty big deal to me.
He was coming from a unit that frequently worked long hours, so to have daytime hours free to spend with me was such an exciting thing for me.
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You can imagine my confusion and disappointment when these days rarely ever came. I noticed that when he was not in a training course, there was almost always something to do at the office. I thought for sure the person in charge would grant him some reprieve after being in back to back courses for weeks on end, but no, this did not happen. His life was work, work, work. All the time.
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There needs to be a better work-home life balance in the SOF community. And since they usually have not known one another long, the time they spend together is very necessary. It is a sad fact that many teams spend more waking hours with each other than with their wives and families. After a year in the community, I noticed that SOF is like a boys club.
2. He hooked up with an old coworker … then got a picture of a sonogram
Everyone wants to be accepted. An individual that is too different from the others is a distraction and will often be singled out. If you know anything about men, it is that they like competition. The ways they try to prove themselves are risky at best and self-destructive at worst. More on that later. The trouble in my marriage began very soon after graduation from the initial training course just as the training tempo began to pick up.
He was gone more than he was home and his stress level was at an all time high. Most of his peers were extremely stressed as well. I noticed that while they were at work, they got wound so tight and unless they took steps to relieve their stress in healthy ways, they were bound to self destruct at some point in the future. One of the biggest stress release trends for that I noticed among the guys was the use of alcohol. Consider the facts. Combine a pretty stressed out man who thinks he can do whatever he wants, one who is allowed to and expected to make big decisions on his own, and add in the inhibition reducing substance called alcohol, and what do you get?
A boy who does whatever he wants because he thinks he deserves it because he works so hard. My husband had always enjoyed drinking. Drinking in excess was easy for him to do because of his addictive personality. When he decided that his stress relieving activity of choice was to go out drinking with his buddies after hours, it was a dangerous one. Quite often, it was happening while he was away on training.
Training that he sometimes could not talk about with me because the course was classified. I think he must have thought that he could get away with doing whatever he wanted. Maybe he thought that since he was not allowed to talk about what he was doing in training, he did not have to remain accountable for anything that happened while on this training trip away from home? I remember thinking about our daughters, and my heart broke again contemplating how this news would change the course of our life and our future.
I cried more over the coming days and weeks than I had in years. I felt as though I was processing a death instead of infidelity, which is truly what the loss of trust feels like. I felt humiliated, and cried from relief when I received the call that my health status was okay a week later. My heart broke for all of the men and women who would be dealing with the same fears, insecurities, questions about self-worth, and confusion that I was processing.
I felt jaded in love and with society, because we had always promised to tell each other if we ever had feelings or wanted to move on with another person. The coming days were challenging and the months that followed were even more difficult. The last year has been a whirlwind of emotion, transformation, struggle, and change.
Here are some things that I have realized over the course of the last year:. In the midst of the intense pain I experienced the first few days after his confession, I realized I had lost myself in the relationship. I could not remember who I had been or what my dreams were before we had married and started a family. I realized that, regardless of our future as a couple, I needed to get to know myself again. I felt like I had become a shadow of my former self over the course of our marriage, and needed to focus on bringing myself back to a good place before I could truly determine what would happen in our relationship.
I have searched for answers to what went wrong in our marriage and wondered if there was more going on with my former spouse and the woman he cheated on me with. I have also asked myself countless questions in my efforts toward self-discovery. He and I have quizzed and continue to quiz each other off and on as we process our grief, heartache, and loss. I know that I may never have a full picture or a clear idea of what has happened along the way, and I am slowly starting to come to terms with that reality.
I have also realized that there are some situations where there is simply not an answer, but a disjointed series of choices, circumstances, and situations along the way which became too much for us to bear over time. I did not leave my husband immediately after he confessed.
1. She was (accidentally) the other woman
I stayed for a few months to see if he would change some of the behaviors which we felt contributed to the infidelity, and in many ways, he did change. He temporarily quit his place of employment where the infidelity occurred, and focused on working on the house we were building together. However, when I thought about the changes I witnessed, I wondered about whether the cost to him was worth it.
I knew in my heart that he was passionate about his former career and I spent many nights wondering if asking him to leave that industry was the right thing for me to do. I worried whether or not the changes I did see would fade if he felt secure in the fact I was not leaving. There was so much uncertainty and stress during the remainder of our time together. Our relationship was extremely rocky, volatile, and eventually went to a place that was not healthy for either of us.
Eventually, I came to him and told him that I wanted to move forward with a divorce, and I know that this request shattered his dreams and broke his heart. We are still trying to move past the complex layers of hurt and damage to find forgiveness for each other in the wake of all that has transpired over the last 12 months.
There are days when I wonder if we will ever be able to forgive each other and move forward peacefully as co-parents to our children. Forgiveness does not happen overnight, a week later, a month later, or even a year later.
It is a multilayered choice that will probably take us years to overcome.
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