Interview with Jennifer
–by Kristen Tsetsi
Jennifer, 38, and Travis, 26, met on April 10, 2007, on the rating – and dating – website “Hot or Not.” Both had submitted their pictures for review—Jennifer from her home in California, and Travis from his in North Carolina—and, needless to say, they gave one another high ratings.
They’ve now been married for almost four years. Jennifer moderates the popular facebook page The Few, the Proud, the Wives, and Travis, a Marine, is currently on his fourth deployment. Jennifer, who spent eight years in the Navy reserves, says they get easier for her every time. “Life is going on, and this deployment seems to be going faster than any other,” she says.
She knew Travis was a Marine early in their relationship, and she’d previously been married to a Marine for thirteen years, so if anyone knew what she was getting into, she did. But she doesn’t think others without the same experience have the same preparation.
“I do believe a lot of young wives think they know what they’re getting into, but truly don’t,” she says, adding that she thinks it would be a good idea for significant others of service members to experience at least one deployment before getting married. “So many young couples’ marriages end because they have no idea what a deployment consist of,” she says.
Jennifer wants those about to marry someone in the military to understand that when the service members leave, it’s not as if they’re leaving for a year away at college. “You may get six month notice, or 24 hours notice,” she explains.
She says, too, that she wishes spouses expressing disappointment over not receiving a phone call from the Middle East for a few days would realize another spouse may not have had a phone in call in months. “Some wives will never get a phone call again,” she says. “Someone always has it worse, and [complaining] will not make them come home earlier.”
As “seasoned” as Jennifer is when it comes to deployments, and as much advice as she may have to offer, she’s not entirely immune to the effects of wartime separation.
JENNIFER: Of course I was afraid, basic deployment fear, but I didn’t/don’t let it run my life or the deployment. My husband’s life is in his brother’s hands and God’s. I try not to watch the news. It can all be so misleading, sometimes.
I had my low points, and I got sad and had a good cry. I think the worst point during one of the deployments was when it was days away from the Homecoming. The days dragged!
LIFT: What was it about those last days that made them drag/seem harder than the others?
JENNIFER: I think it’s because you’re so excited and so anxious, you just want it to get here.
LIFT: What was your highest point?
JENNIFER: Homecoming, of course. But waking up to emails, even if they just said “Love you, boo.” And the every-so-often phone calls!
LIFT: Did being in the reserves prepare you in any way for deployments?
JENNIFER: I was in Hawaii for a few weeks away from my family, so being away kind of prepared me, but honestly I don’t think anything can prepare you for a deployment. They’re all different lengths of time and not one deployment is the same.
LIFT: What was the first hour like after you said goodbye to Travis for his latest deployment?
JENNIFER: He left very early, so I didn’t really feel anything, because I was so tired. I cried for a few minutes on the way home, but there is no point in that. It won’t make him come back.
LIFT: Have you ever felt like you didn’t have the right to wallow, express your fears, share your sadness (etc.) because you weren’t the one in a war zone?
JENNIFER: Never. My husband asks me every day how I’m doing. We are best friends and very open with everything.
LIFT: Have you ever felt guilty that you were having fun while he was over there probably not having so much fun?
JENNIFER: Not really. Life goes on. You can’t stop time. You have to keep going. I did wish he was here, though.
LIFT: How, if at all, did the deployment affect your marriage?
JENNIFER: I think every deployment makes us appreciate our marriage and each other more. They also make you realize the things you’ve taken for granted. Like the little petty arguments over laundry or the trash. I should have been thankful he was home and alive..
LIFT: What are your pet peeves during his deployment?.
JENNIFER: The only discouraging things are the crappy phones that don’t work for anything.
LIFT: This question assumes a part-answer, which is, “I want my spouse to be happy doing whatever s/he does.” That said, do you ever wish your spouse would separate from the military (why or why not)?
JENNIFER: Nope. I love military life and all that comes with it.
LIFT: What about being a military family do you most enjoy?
JENNIFER: The pride we have for our country and how unique we are. We are definitely in a class of our own.
LIFT: In what way do you think military families are unique?
JENNIFER: Our bases are like little towns—we could actually survive living right here. I also think individuals become more patriotic than they were before marrying someone in the military.
LIFT: What do you wish people with no military connection understood about the lifestyle?
JENNIFER: Well, one that a deployment isn’t like a business trip. It’s a war zone. We don’t want to hear “I don’t know how you do it,” or “Aren’t you afraid he’ll die?” I guess, also, that—truly—they don’t know how we feel, and yes, we know what we signed up for, but when their husband goes on a long business trip and they say they miss their husbands, we aren’t thinking, “Well, you knew what his job was all about when he took it.”