When Jealousy Strikes at the Commissary: I Wish I Were a Girlfriend


I caught a glimpse of you from the corner of my eye. You were smiling from ear to ear. He had an even bigger smile as you flirted openly with one another in the deli section of the Commissary. I rolled my eyes and tried not to stare.

I wish I were a girlfriend.

I could feel myself giving you a stink face. I’m sorry; you do not deserve that kind of reaction. I knew you were his girlfriend instantly. You had “girlfriend” written all over you even before you got in line behind me, and he had to explain to you the process of showing his ID at the checkout.

It is rare to see a dating couple at this duty station because we are overseas and so far away from the States. I noticed other women start to notice you as well. I’m sure they also quickly branded you as the girlfriend.

No married couple looks that cute at the Commissary.

Especially this Commissary.

I barely look alive sometimes when I’m there. I thought I was being sneaky by pairing a Stitch Fix sweater with an old baggy t-shirt and jeans. Now I look fancy I thought as I darted off to the commissary to buy some much-needed brownies and milk. It had been that kind of day.

I hope you didn’t hear me scoff as you recanted your traveling woes to the man standing in line behind you. What I wouldn’t give to be delayed for four hours on a plane by myself! Try traveling across the country only to then fly across the world 28 weeks pregnant, with a 1-year-old, and 78 suitcases (I think we really only had six, but it felt like more). Honey, you don’t know rough traveling until you’ve traveled with a child or a pet or on the Patriot Express.

What I wouldn’t give to travel somewhere, anywhere, alone these days. Seriously, I’ll give you my firstborn child for a trip alone.

I’m sorry for looking down on you as I took my groceries off the conveyor belt — as if my marital status somehow made me better. As if I belong here more than you. Again, I know deep down that that look was unjustified. I was in a pitiful mood. I just miss my independence and individuality, and there you were just casually flaunting yours in front of everyone.

I wish I were a girlfriend and could come and go as I please from this duty station, but instead I live here. I’m 7,000 miles from my family and close friends. This is not an extended vacation for me or a short sabbatical from work. I am unemployed and am becoming more and more unqualified in my field the longer we are stationed here. You get to fly back home in a week to your job, to your family, to your life.

The truth is I am extremely jealous of you.

I wish I were a girlfriend. If not for the independence alone, but also for the disgustingly, cute flirting and public displays of affection that happen during the early stages of a relationship. I miss holding hands at the grocery store just because. I don’t even remember the last time my husband and I went to the grocery store together much less held hands in public.

From this very brief encounter watching a young Marine and his girlfriend interact in the Commissary, I became extremely worked up and fueled by envy. I was headed home to give my Marine a piece of my mind. I was going to demand more attention, more freedom, more chocolate … I didn’t really have a plan, I was just going to wing it.

I flung open the door ready to lay it all out, and all the aggression I’d been harboring on the drive home instantly disappeared. I was overwhelmed by the scene in front of me. My husband was lounging on the couch, our infant son was passed out on his chest, and our daughter was fast asleep next to them. It was nap time and everyone was cuddled up next to Daddy.

I thought back to that morning when we were out running errands, and though my husband and I did not hold hands, we did each hold one of our daughter’s hands. It was perfect. 

Some days I feel like I’m trapped here, 7,000 miles away from my family, but then I’m reminded of moments like this and I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything … not even for four hours delayed on a plane alone.

I chose to move here so we could keep our family together. I chose to quit my job and stay home to raise our babies. I might not have my independence anymore, but it is the greatest feeling in the world being a mom. These kids are my identity now.

The grass is always greener on the other side they say.

Maybe you caught a glimpse of me ,and for a brief second thought, Man, I wish I were as cool as that exhausted-looking lady rocking those mom jeans.

OK, maybe not.

But, you may be longing for the day your partner’s military life is yours; for the day you walk around with a little one swinging between you; and the opportunity to move across the world with him or her. Enjoy your freedom now, but believe me when I say the best is yet to come. I wish you all the best and hope your happiness together continues. 

Does anyone else get jealous when you see a girlfriend strolling around base?


  1. I’m a former girlfriend-turned-wife who married my Marine while on recruiting duty, and I’ve been on both sides of the jealousy spectrum. As a wife and now stay-at-home mom (who’d wanted to be a SAHM her entire life, so this was 100% my choice,) it’s difficult to be part of a world where so much of the spouse’s identity is within the larger umbrella of the military member. I’m jealous of the independent identities of girlfriends, for sure. But when I was a girlfriend, I was jealous of the spouses because I had no idea how to navigate a commissary (still don’t, since we’re away from a Marine base while on recruiting,) I didn’t understand how the military functioned in terms of orders and PCSing and anything that hugely impacted my life, and I honestly just felt like I was the little sister who wanted to hang out with her bigger sisters who knew everything and already had it all figured out. The grass is always greener, for sure!

  2. Mallory,
    I love this post! I too was once a girlfriend back in 2004 in Ramstein, Germany. Commissary trips were fun and full of adventure. I loved “playing wife” and being so proud of what my friend, turned boyfriend, turned fiancé, turned best husband ever was doing with his life! This Atcirle brought back ALL of those feelings. The next time I go to the commissary, I will remember that innocence! Thank you!

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