A Sheepdog Wife Update (Because I’ve Been Quiet For A While…)

So, I’ve taken the last few months to kind of re-work what I thought this blog was supposed to be, and turn into. The ‘game plan’ and objective has changed approximately 900 times. Instead of dragging you (and my brain) along on every single change of direction, and u-turn I’ve taken on this journey, I thought I would give a post that kind of outlines why I started this in the first place, and where I hope to go in the near-ish future.

Four years ago (ish) my now husband and I had known each other for about six months. We were ‘talking,’ or dating, or whatever it is kids call it today when two people are trying to decide if they want to be together long-term. I knew he was in the National Guard, which meant weekend drills that truthfully didn’t affect me much. I had always said that, as the daughter of two soldiers, I would NOT marry someone in the military – but I figured I could handle the ‘one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer’ style of military life.

One night, right before he headed out of the country for two weeks, he dropped the bomb on me that he was going to try to take his military career to the ‘next level’. It would mean a three year long school, ten hours away from where I was living. It meant not only leaving his long-term (and higher paying) business consulting job, but taking a roughly fifty percent pay cut, and a much more dangerous job. He had his mind dead set on this, and I would need to either be supportive, or back off and let him ‘go it alone’. It took all of 30 seconds for me to know I wanted to be part of this adventure if it meant that we could do it together.

That night is probably the exact moment that the idea for this blog started to take place. I’m a researcher by nature, so I went home and immediately started reading. Blogs, websites, books, forums – you name it. I needed to know how best to help J and encourage him through this. The next three years would be physically (for him) and emotionally demanding (for both of us). I wanted J’s career and our marriage to make it through – stronger on the other side. On top of that, I wanted to really understand J. What makes someone leave a comfortable office job, and want to go get shot at? (For less pay!)

If I’m being honest, I couldn’t really find much. There were some great resources for people just learning about the military, or who were absolutely new to this community and wanted to learn things like rank, pay, or all of the thousands of acronyms. I’d grown up military – both parents were in – so I knew the basics and had a solid background of knowledge to work with. Since I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I settled for looking up as much info as possible on the job and the training, and kind of drawing my own conclusions. This blog got started then – mainly as a place for me to be able to process, and handle some of my snarkier opinions.

Fast forward two years. We got married and I moved down for the last year and a half of training. I met other wives married to these wonderful guys – as well as the ‘guys’ themselves. The more I got to know them, and the more I struggled through learning how to be married (which is challenging enough!) and how to be married into this crazy lifestyle, the more I realized the reason a lot of problems were arising in the marriages in this community was because we were all incredibly unprepared. Sure, the handful of us who were military ‘brats’ had a leg up – but as we moved forward with our husbands’ careers, the more we realized that we didn’t know.

I started really thinking about writing the book sometime about six months before we were going to move. I’d read that the divorce rate in the community J and I were about to join was hovering right around 75 percent. That blew my mind, and broke my heart. Right around then, J and I decided he was going to fight to go on a deployment with his unit, leaving two weeks after we would be moving back to our hometown.

I was going to have to readjust and learn a whole new set of rules. And, I wanted to be able to pass this knowledge on to wives, girlfriends, and fiancees who might not have the time or desire to spend weeks researching or reading about their husband’s job – or those women who don’t live near a base, and can’t create a ‘tribe’ of anyone who really understands. The more I thought about it – and the more I really talked to my girlfriends who were walking through this, and learning by lots of trial and error – the more I realized that I HAD to write a book. I had to pass on any knowledge I could, to help people get through this life even a little easier than I had.

I’m still (slowly) churning out the book, but it’s becoming more of a corner-piece to a much more elaborate plan, and something far larger than I anticipated. The goal of the book is going to be to tell the military wives story, (the real one, not the one that’s on Lifetime… I love that show, but that is not what my life looks like) and to give all of the military marriages a better chance at killing that 75 percent statistic. The over-all goal is to actually be a part of lowering the statistic, by giving the ‘sheepdogs’ and their wives a chance and the tools to really thrive in this life – not just get by on survival mode. How? In the spirit of authenticity, I’m still working that part out. I’ve gone back and forth between expanding the blog into a forum where we can reach out to one another and give and receive advice, or even a non profit to create a ‘curriculum’ for people in this community to follow.

For now, it looks a lot like this – writing for the people who take the time to read it, and sharing even when it’s ramble-y and snarky. And, for making myself available for questions and vents and suggestions. (Seriously – I’m on Instagram as TheSheepdogWife! And I can always be reached via email or comments here!)

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