The hiatus from posting has stemmed from a series of life happenings. Recently, I lost my one day off from work because I am transitioning into full-time work beginning in July while training my replacements at my now second part-time job. Furthermore, my second masters program began, and I decided to start in summer, which condenses the graduate course into 5 weeks instead of 15. C has also decided to switch careers and transition in AF Reserve and try to retrain. As a result, my brain feels like melted butter.
A common misconception with marrying military is that the airmen can provide for you so you can depend on them for financial support as well as support from just being in a relationship. However, lower ranked enlisted do not make enough money to support a family without there being tension and financial stress. C finally told me how his paychecks work from how he receives his BH check to how the GI is pulled from his salary. My jaw dropped. All I saw each month for the purpose of our household budgets was $1500 every two weeks go into his bank account. I didn’t take into account the additional BH was included in this salary check nor did I think money would be removed from the sum that I thought he was receiving each month. I was baffled at our lack of communication, but I also knew how much my paycheck mattered to our lifestyle. Even though his paycheck can provide basic needs, it does not provide anything extra like nights out or travel money.
I never was raised to be dependent-I hate that term being associated with me, which is why I found two part-time jobs to pay for my share of the bills. It has been overwhelming though waking up each morning, working 7-9 hours a day, coming home, taking care of household chores then studying for 5 hours before going to bed and beginning again. But that’s the nature of working part-time jobs: low pay and no pay for days taken off. It can be intimidating and seem worthless to other dependents who have one source of income and benefits from their airmen, but working at least one part-time job will help relieve the financial stress or even the stress that comes with being cooped up in the house all day.
My decision to go back to graduate school was partially inspired by C being military. A career in the arts is not always available if we were to PCS, but a job involving Library and Information Sciences would be a more likely an option. In an ideal world, I would find full-time work in an art museum’s collections management. It is an online program so my program could travel with me. I love school, but losing my one day off from work then coming home and needing to critically think is difficult. I understand why dependents choose to not go to school afterall. However, my advice for other dependents who use these reasonings as a way to avoid getting their education is this: online programs are available so take advantage of an education that can PCS with you, coming home from part-time jobs is exhausting but after you earn the degree full-time vocational work will be available, and your spouse may not tell you he needs help, but he needs the financial help.
C is also potentially switching to Reserves, which threw a wrench in the plan. I just earned full-time work at an art museum working with living artist, and now there is the potential that we will have to move in the Fall. At first I was angry and rejected the idea of moving. After getting my education, working part-time 55-60 hours a week for over a year and finally catching a break, he now decides to throw my hard work away by PCSing and retraining in Reserves. But then I thought about and thought about and thought about. A new city is a new fresh start with new opportunities. Just because my opportunity here in Tucson may end short from my expectation does not mean that I will not find work that is equally as satisfying or better. My game plan is to apply to art museums in the area of the Reserve base options and hope to transition into full-time work in my field. If not, I will find work in my new area of study. Or just create new opportunities. I learned to not be afraid of the unknown. Life is too short to avoid moving in fear of what I do not know. As dependents we should know the value of life more than others, especially after deployment orders.
Marrying military can be overwhelming. It can be easy to lose your identity and camouflage with your significant other whose career is demanding and just as unstable as it is stable. The important thing to remember is to never give up on yourself, your aspiration, or on the military. Always think of the positives and find or create solutions to resolve the negatives. It requires extra mental effort and extra hard work to accomplish both careers, but it is well worth the effort. What I won’t do is give up on my education, on my career, and on C.