Life As A Navy Wife

I'm one of the lucky ones - we don't have children (unless dogs count) and my husband doesn't go away as often as many do. He's been in the Navy for 10 years and has spent around 3 years of that time at sea. He is a submariner so when he does go away, it's for 3 months and we have zero contact. He also works 24 hour duties regularly when the boat is here.

We often hear the words "I don't know why you're complaining, you knew what you signed up to when you married him", usually from non-military families. But it's not as simple as that.
Maybe you didn't know much about Navy life before you got into a relationship with the person, maybe you chose love and commitment over issues with their career choice, maybe you are prepared to deal with it everyday, but sometimes it gets too much and you need to offload.


You might need to be prepared to up and move anywhere, anytime, just to be with them. 
  - I lived in Fareham, Hampshire for 19 years of my life and swore I would never leave. My parents moved away and I refused to go with them, I was content where I was. Then, I met my now husband and within 5 months of our relationship, he tells me he has been drafted to Scotland and asks if I would be willing to go with him. I did. All of my friends were in shock, they knew that I couldn't deal with change and they knew we hadn't been together long. My family weren't happy that I was moving 450 miles away with someone I barely knew. But I did it. And to this day, I don't really know why, but I didn't really ever consider staying.

Chances are, you will lose a lot of friends. But you will make even better friends. 
 - When we moved to Scotland, I swore I would stay in regular contact with all my friends back home, I swore we would come to visit all the time and that we would always be friends. But it doesn't seem to work that way. We had a leaving do down south before we left, so many friends turned up. Now, I speak to two of those people regularly and the rest, have all moved on with their lives. When we got married, only two friends from down south attended our wedding (with 9 months notice). But, after we got married, we moved to a married quarter where we met a ton of new friends and they all live within a 5 minute walk. These friends do understand why you moved, they do understand what you're going through and they will be there when you don't know how to pump a tyre up on your car or when you just need someone to talk to.

No-one else understands what you are going through.
  - Unless you have been or are part of a military family, you do not understand what it is like. From the outside, it often seems like we are coping absolutely fine and that it is easy being alone. But no-one will understand how it feels to come home to an empty house. How it feels leading up to a ship sailing and your partner is going with it. How it feels not hearing from your partner for months. No-one understands how much we sacrifice, our families and friends, our home town, if we have pets or children, we often have to sacrifice work. Most the time, it feels like we have to share our partners with another marriage - to the Navy. There is never stability, at least not for your marriage or future, because you never know where they will be or where you will be.

You might just end up with the best type of husband.
   - So life as a Navy wife is not all bad. Sometimes, you end up marrying the best type of husband. The Navy teaches them many things - how to iron to a high standard, how to wash your own clothes, how to always look presentable. I hear about so many people's husbands who don't help around the house, or who don't know how to iron for example. But yet, every military household I go into, I see the husband ironing his own uniform on a Sunday evening. The Navy also teaches them immense patience. My husband says to me, "I work in a metal tube with 160 men for 3 months at a time. You have to learn to be patient and accepting otherwise you will go insane." He doesn't often lose his temper, in fact, I don't think I've ever seen him lose it.

You have to accept that you will never have 100% confirmed plans together. 
  - As I mentioned, you are essentially sharing your husband with the Navy. This means that when the Navy want them to work, they will be at work. When they want your husband to go away to sea, they will go away. You can never make 100% confirmed plans for anything because you don't know when the Navy will decide they need your husband more than you do. I know of many husbands who have missed the birth of their child, who have missed weddings, funerals and holidays, all for the Navy. There's no point getting angry or expecting this to change. They made a commitment, often long before they met you.


When your husband is away, you will appreciate them so much more. 
 - Often, when your husband is away, you have to take on the role o
f Mum, Dad, cleaner, teacher, dog walker, organiser etc. You might be thinking, I do all that already, and yes, many people do, but this is everything- by yourself. Paying
the bills, cleaning the house, cutting the grass, fixing things when they break, cooking, shopping, walking the dogs, taking the kids to school. I'm sure that 95% of people who are in relationships do not do all of these jobs by themselves. But Navy wives often do. But your husband will appreciate that, even if they don't voice that opinion. They will appreciate coming home to a clean house, fed and looking after kids and pets. They appreciate coming home to a wife who is prepared to wait.

Some days you will sit there and wonder why you are doing this. 
  - Often, if your partner is at sea or doing back to back duties, we can spend most of the week alone, including nights and sometimes, we can go entire days without speaking to another human. This is often when we sit there and wonder why we put ourselves through this - we might as well be single right? But for the most of us, we will sit there and cry, hug our pets or children, wondering why we do this again and again, but we will always go to bed and wake up the next day in the house that you share. Waiting for their return.

You will be proud of them. Even if the rest of the country aren't. 
 - The UK as a whole, especially compared to the US, do not tend to appreciate the lengths that our husbands have to go to to keep the UK safe. Often, those boats they go on are not 100% safe for them to go to sea in. But they do. Often, they have to live on rations when the boat has to stay out longer than intended. Often, they give up many months out of the year and are kept away from a normal life, a life with their partner and children. On submarines, they are taught to save the boat, not lives. If there is a fire, they are to protect the boat first, the submariners second. Not everyone could do the job that your Navy husband does. Not everyone could deal with the lives that us Navy wives do.

Keep going. You are not alone and some people do understand. Your husband appreciates you.

Sarah (aka. Pale Princess) x