The Absolute Last Thing I Want to Hear: “You signed up for this”


I know that I cannot be the only one who has heard this. And to be honest, I have heard it one too many times.

It takes all my willpower not to launch a counter assault when I hear the words “well you knew what you signed up for” when I am just making a statement that I miss my husband. Who wouldn’t miss their spouse if he or she was gone 6 to 9 months of every year either from deployments, endless temporary duty assignments (TDYs) or 12 hour work days every single day when he or she is in town?

When people innocently say those playful words, I don’t feel very playful. It feels a little like they are telling me that I brought this on myself in some way, invalidating my longing to have my husband home. I trust in the goodwill of others and honestly believe people are just trying to fill the silence with noise. I just want to say think before you speak because my husband told me how much he was going to be gone, and I chose to love him anyway.

Years ago, he gave me an idea about the amount of time he would be away, but it didn’t seem too much to conquer when we were young and in love … and without kids. Then reality set in.

No one, no matter how much they ‘explain this life,’ can explain how you will feel when the two of you become one, and then half of you is missing at least half of the time. No one can describe how you just wish you would roll over and go to sleep with your spouse instead of watching lame movies just to keep your mind occupied at night. No one can describe what it is like to have children, let alone children who are begging for their daddy. You have to be strong and tell them that you miss him, too, and of course you believe he will return home safely from ‘fighting the bad guys’.

No one can understand this life before she or he has lived it. My husband might have told me he would be gone a lot, but the millions of other factors were unfathomable at that time.

Yet, one thing people also don’t tell you is that no matter how hard it is, you will meet the greatest people. You will make the best friendships on earth, and these friends will see you at your best and at your worst and love you anyways. No matter how alone you feel at times, you are never alone.

When your husband is TDY and you are crawling around with mastitis with a newborn and a 1 year old, some beautiful soul will show up on your doorstep with soup because she just knows that life is too much right now. You will celebrate hails and farewells, promotions, weddings, babies and life together. You will become a family. When you lose someone in the family, every single person will rally together to pray for and support the family of the lost. When someone finds out they have cancer, everyone will gather to figure out how many ways they can take care of that family: meals, babysitting, praying, or simply sitting with them.

You will find your soulmates … and yes, I meant that in the plural.

So, no. I didn’t know what I signed up for when I married this handsome man and gave my life to the U.S. military.

And yes, I gave my life to the military, too.

Would I have it any other way? No way.

Should I be able to say that I miss my husband without people making snarky comments that feel like they are placing blame? Yes!

So please, the next time you want to say something to a spouse whose significant other is TDY or deployed, just say “’I’m sorry, I bet that is hard.”

In truth, it is really hard, but sometimes the most rewarding things in life are the most difficult. Even if I had understood exactly what this life was going to be like before I married my husband, I would “sign up for this” all over again.


  1. I applaud and respect you all. God bless you.

    I also suggest you look around for B&B’s for Vets (.org) in your area. I’m in the Midwest, and won’t list until much closer to Veterans Day, but we give away 8-10 room nights per year to active and veteran military. My friends and community partners in Jacksonville, IL, have joined to help us honor our vets with dinner for two, fresh flowers, etc in addition to our complimentary overnight in the Bed & Breakfast. Offers differ from place to place, but all include a complimentary room night. They’re not everywhere – I’ve had people drive in from Minnesota – and they’re limited. If you’re interested, bookmark the site and check back frequently. It would also pay to look at those in your area who’ve participated in the past and follow them on Facebook. Some of us make our early announcements on Social Media. IF you can manage to get it scheduled, it’s a great way to re-connect and… B&B’s are a great place to stay! Bless you all.

  2. My brother was in the army for over twenty years. Most of his time was overseas. It seem like my sister-in-law, Jodie was always taking care of the girls, three of them, by herself. She did a very good job too. I know how she felt when he told her he had signed up for over seas again. She loved him until the end. He retired and lived for several years. He was very sick at the end, The doctors said he died from the effects of agent-orange. She stayed right beside him and took care of him until the end. We lost her a few years ago. In my books she was a great woman.

    My husband has always been with me and I thank God. We married after he got out of the Air Force in 1957.

  3. I totally agree with this! What bothers me are the comments that “at least”– like, “at least it’s only 6 months,” or “at least he’s only gone a few days,” or “at least you don’t have to deal with a 1 year deployment.” Any length of time your other half is gone is hard on the family: the lonely nights, parenting alone, caring for sick kids, etc. We should never compare or try to belittle someone’s experience. Instead, what I need is support and love, daily encouragement, and people telling me that they are there for me.

  4. Beautiful article! I have been there!! There are not a lot of military in my city, but is there a way to find out if there are other young families that are? I felt very isolated when my husband was deployed as his unit was based 1.5+ hours away. I had a great support system here, but I would like to reach out for those that are not as lucky as I was.

  5. From a fellow blogger (Duluth MN Mom’s Blog) I commend you. You, the wife of a man who has given himself to the United States for little or no thanks. Yes, a military career can be a hard one…but it’s also hard on the ones that matter most in their lives. I have family members and friends who have had to say good bye for an unknown amount of time and go on. The men and women that are left behind to raise families and go about their “normal” lives are heros as well.
    So hold your head high as you go on. You are doing it!
    (My “baby boy” has been in the Marines since November. No one knows what they are signing up for.) Please thank your husband for his service!I will keep you and your family in my prayers!

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