Military Mondays: The Harsh Realities of War

I’m one of those spouses who WANTS to know exactly what happens in war.  I don’t know how common that is, because I have heard both sides: needing to know and not wanting to know.  It all depends on personality and your coping style, but my coping style definitely hates being left in the dark.

I’m the Army wife who is attracted like a magnet to the TV when the word “Afghanistan” or “terrorism” is mentioned; I’m the Army wife who watches documentaries like Battleground Afghanistan and Restrepo; I’m the Army wife who would prefer to read a raw, honest saga of a journalist embedded with fighting soldiers, rather than the latest issue of “Military Spouse Magazine.” (Disclaimer: That is not a rip against the magazine, it IS a great resource and I enjoy their articles!)

Furthermore, I don’t just want to know what happens in war generally.  I want to know specifically what is happening to my own soldier.  I know to not pepper him with TOO many questions, but when he opens up about combat (whether it’s about his previous tour or his current one) I listen attentively and soak up every word.  I want a visual picture painted in my head.  I want to know when things get really bad.  But most of all, I want to understand what he is going through.

But that is where I get tripped up and frustrated.  The cold fact is that I will NEVER understand.  No matter how many times he repeats his stories, no matter how deep he may let me look into his soul, I will NEVER GET IT.  Only another veteran can completely understand him.  Only another veteran can look at his eyes and know the pain he’s suffered.  Only another veteran can say, “I get it. I know.”

I DON’T know, and during Mark’s first deployment that especially caused me great anguish because it was a very rough tour.  He was violently engaged with the enemy.  He was knocked out in a rollover accident.  He had to shoot a puppy to death because it might have been rabid.  He looked death in the face numerous times.  Those are things I cannot fathom, even though I wish I could.  There have been times I’ve truly wished I could go to Afghanistan, just so I could understand him better.  In all honesty, if I had the opportunity to travel there as an embedded journalist, I would.  And at one point, I was trying to get a contractor job over there so I could quickly pay off my student loans…but also so I could see a TINY bit of reality.

However, one of the puzzle pieces to being a good military wife is to understand what my role is.  My role is to be his support, his rock, his love.  My role entails being patient, unshakeable, and a good listener.  He may be a warrior in the traditional sense of the word (his name even means “God’s Warrior”), but in my own way, I am a warrior too.  We each have unique warrior qualities that complement each other and give strength where the other is weak.  Even after our military life is over, we will fearlessly face life head-on….together.



12 thoughts on “Military Mondays: The Harsh Realities of War

  1. I am the same way. I want to know everything! And it is really hard not to bombard them with questions when they aren’t ready to talk about things, or when they are ready to talk about it be ok with what they are actually saying to you. Or being ok that they want to talk to someone else who was there and not you. It is a balancing act that is hard to fathom at times. I loved your last paragraph. Perfect.

    • Yes! The questions start piling up in my head, and I have to check myself so I don’t ask too many. Mark and his twin brother talk a lot, so it’s good they have each other as “battle buddies.”

  2. I have been trying to write a love story between a army guy and girl, luckily I stumbled upon your blog and I loved every bit of it. Keep posting the entries for nothing helps a writer more then the reality of situations. Thanks for posting! Cheers!

    • Wow I am flattered! Thank you! I would love to read what you write. If you have any specific questions, feel free to e-mail me: malori.fuchs(at)gmail(dot)com Thanks for stopping by! :)

  3. I am the same way! I was not with my husband during his deployments – I was married to my ex at the time. My husband has told me a lot of his stories and like you I want to know all the details and just soak it in. In a way I find myself feeling guilty that I was not with him during his deployments, I never met the friends he lost, never got to send him a care package, etc. But like you I am finding my place as a military wife – being his support, his comfort and his love. Thank you for posting this…glad to know that I am not the only one out there that wants the details!

    • It is so nice to know that there are other mil-wives who are the same. I feel that if I cut myself off from the truth, I wouldn’t be able to understand him as well as I could. Of course, I never will fully understand but I want to do the best I can. As time goes on, more of his stories come out…he will say, “Have I ever told you that….” and then he’ll talk about something he’s never brought up before. Sometimes I even write down details so I don’t forget (especially if it has to do with PTSD or TBI).

  4. At my brother’s wedding last year, my husband had the opportunity to meet with my Uncle Chuck, a career soldier now long retired, and discuss all things Army. It was so neat to see the two of them light up and talk for hours (yes, hours), comparing notes, swapping stories. There are definitely things that I don’t get about being a soldier. I don’t even know what questions to ask to keep the conversation going on some topics. But you are right that as a wife, we don’t need to know it all or understand it all. Our role is to be supportive, understanding, listen if they want to talk. Sometimes my husband just wants to forget about all that stuff and I can be a great distraction! :)

    • Exactly, Amy! Sometimes they just need to totally escape from the Army thing and get away mentally. And that is so neat about your husband and uncle meeting! I love seeing multi-generational soldiers learning and gaining strength from each other. :)

  5. I understand completely. While I hate to be left in the dark, there are also some things I would rather not know. I think for me, I would rather know after the fact- after he is home safe, after the worst is over, etc. Then again, when DH was deployed, I too was drawn like a moth to flame to every news report, every random comment from spouses in our Squadron, etc because I was certain DH was not telling me everything so I would not worry. But I didn’t want him to feel alone out there. I wanted him to know I cared- even if I could not understand. Kudos to you for taking on the role of supportive and caring wife like you are! :)

    • Thank you, Christina! Yeah, some things take a little while to process…and even then, they can’t be totally processed. During the first deployment, Mark would tell his brother more details at first (like when he was in his first firefight and the rollover accident) and I learned of a lot of things through Matt. It sounds like you are also a very supportive wife and your hubby is lucky to have you! :)

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