Recruit for Spouses

I remember we’d been married a couple of months, I was living in our first quarter and there we were having a blazing row about my hair. Pathetic I know but I wanted my hair cut and coloured to hide those random grey hairs that had appeared since his last tour of duty and my husband couldn’t get his head around the fact that a haircut cost so much and I couldn’t cope with the fact that I was having to justify what to me was something that happened every 6 weeks whether there was food in the fridge or not.

So I started looking for a job and it became quite clear that with a military address you would be thrown into a job searching web you never knew existed.

Fast forward three years and I’ve just launched www.recruitforspouses.co.uk but it hasn’t been easy I started with nothing I had two little ones and a husband constantly away and when I did have to do a presentation, just before I left the house wearing my only decent outfit I owned and could fit in, my 8 month old boy at the time threw his baby porridge over me resulting in a complete quick change into £1 skirt from a charity shop and yes my husband’s jumper that had shrunk in the wash.

What kept me going? Knowing that the other wives who were in the same position as me would one day find work through my site and that the long hours and early mornings were going to be worth it and that if I could do something to help ‘the band of sisters’ and help improve what can be at times a pretty tough existence. And my hair? Well I’m lucky enough to have a friend who lives on the patch who can cut my hair for bottom dollar now but one day I will have that £50 hair cut………….

We learn to write in pencil…

At 37 I’m one of those ‘old’ wives on the patch. Pretty much surrounded by 20 year olds who are starting their adventure following their husbands as they begin their lives being married to the Army. I’ve been following my husband for 17 years now and when we began our adventure the Army was able to show us the world. It’s a smaller world now without as many opportunities to travel, but possibly with more pressure on family life with constant touring, training, courses and then touring again with normal work thrown in the pot too.

It must be harder now for wives and girlfriends who enter into this world and become the 3rd member in a relationship. Our husbands and boyfriends will love us dearly but unfortunately we, more often than not, have to take a back seat in our relationship and watch as our men do as the Army says first. It doesn’t matter if we got to the calendar first to book something in; we just learn to write in pencil.

I wonder if I had it easier at the start of my relationship than couples have today. We live in a time where we’re able to contact each other fairly easily and most definitely quickly. I never used to think twice about going out with my friends when we were first dating. I didn’t sit beside the phone, I didn’t keep picking it up to check if it had a dial tone and was still working. My life wasn’t put on hold. I could go weeks without hearing from him but I never worried that something was up, I never worried that he’d forgot me or was up to no good, and I never doubted that he didn’t miss me too. He was busy working or was somewhere in the middle of no where without any way of contacting me. It did make our phone calls much more special when we did get contact. I think it’s quite romantic knowing that he queued in the pouring rain for half an hour or so to wait on his turn at the phone box. Obviously it wouldn’t always be pouring with rain, but I’m using a wee bit of artistic licence to add to my story.

I think having little contact at the start of our relationship helped prepare me for when he was away on tour or on an exercise, whether that be one overseas or UK. It isn’t always easy being married to a soldier and love isn’t enough to see you through. I feel a little sad for those who haven’t yet learnt what coping mechanisms to put in place, to help them survive a separation with little or no contact, because the outside world is immediate yet our world is far from it.

Although at 37, I’m not really old, but, in a world where many begin their career at 18 and get married at 20, I’ve certainly seen my fair share of boot polish and Brasso.

We’re nearing the end of our time and will be joining Civvy Street in the next few years. We’ll never be Civvies, we’ll be Ex-Forces!

Redundancy… or not?

So, my husband is on the list for reundancys. We find out in June if he will actually be made redundant.

It would seem, from other peoples opinions, that we should either be ecstatic about this, or devastated. We are neither.

My husband has never once thought about signing off, he LOVES the Army. The Army is what made him who he is, rescued him from the rough area he grew up in, and taught him the respect, integrity and values that are perhaps lacking in a lot of society these days (that, of course, is a debate for another day!). He is proud to be a Soldier, proud to have held down the same job for the last decade, and he genuinely loves going to work. He has been lucky in his postings, he has worked with some fabulous people (some not so fabulous of course) and had so many good times in his career.

I guess from reading that, you’d expect him to be devastated. Of course, leaving the Army before serving his full 22 years wasn’t in his plan, but would settling down really be such a bad thing? With the lump sum he would get, coupled with our savings, we could easily afford a house in the area we wish to live in. We could both work, without having to move around. Our children could grow up in the same house, go to the same schools, have the same friends their whole lives. We could live near family and not be at the beck and call of the Army. No more tours, no more exercises, no more living on the patch.

He won’t be volunteering (although we have considered it). The money he would get would set us up for life. But is money everything? Not really. He’d rather take his chances and hope that the Army decide not to choose him for redundancy. If they do, then so be it, we will look on the bright side of civvie life. We will see it as his time to leave, and our time to begin a new life.

There will be people reading this thinking that this is ridiculous, and probably a bit sad. How can a soldier love the Army so much? Surely everyone moans about the Army? Well, not my husband. He’s had a good deal of it in his career. Not too many tours, good postings, and of course he met me ;)

Do we feel we have been let down by the Army/Govt/Society/David Cameron himself? (delete as applicable, these have all been suggested to us within the last few days). Just because he could be made redundant? No, we don’t. It’s just one of those things, and there’s nothing we can do about it. He would never sign off before his time. We had hoped that his career would just come to a natural end after 22 years, and then we would settle down. But if he is forced to leave before then so be it.

The one thing that has startled us since these redundancys came out, is the amount of people in a sheer state of panic. People who have never planned for the future, never considered that one day the Army won’t employ them anymore. Be that in a years time or 10 years time, we should all still make plans.

So ladies, if this applies to you. Stop putting things on the never never. Don’t buy a new car on finance if you don’t NEED a new car. Pay off your Next Account. Open a savings account, even if you can only save £1 a month. Because, I know we are in a good position if he is made redundant, no debt and some serious savings. I would not like to be in the shoes of someone with a world of debt, facing redundancy with no plans for the future, no money to find somewhere to live. Money isn’t everything, but, as the song goes, it does make the world go round, and knowing that you can afford somewhere to live will take more than a little pressure off.

Do I hope my husband is made redundant? No, not really. Will I be upset if he is? No, not really. We’ll go and buy a house. We’ll paint it all sorts of colours other than Magnolia. We’ll put in a brand new kitchen and bathroom. There will be NO BLUE CARPETS!!!

But just one little note to the Army….join the Army and travel the world? He doesn’t seem to think that Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan count. Perhaps if you decide not to make him redundant, you could send him somewhere ‘Gucci’…there’s an old RAF base in the Maldives, and what with Germany closing down and the Army taking over some RAF bases…well, it’s just an idea ;)