Skip to content

How to Leave a Soldier: your thoughts…

February 1, 2010

How to Leave a Soldier.

I’ve copied and pasted the article, hopefully to make it easier for you all to read and comment. A group of us have discussed this letter quite a bit and thought it would be great to get more input and feedback. We can’t wait to hear what your take is on this. So, without further adieu:

How to Leave a Soldier, by Courtney Cook, reposted from

You’d be surprised how easy it is to leave a soldier on deployment. You can do it with a letter. (He can’t argue with you. He doesn’t have a phone.) If you lay the groundwork early, saying to the soldier before he leaves, “This will be the end of us, we might as well admit it,” it’s that much easier. The letter won’t even come as a shock.

And if you have children with that soldier? You can handle all that with a letter, too. He’ll write it — because he cares about the kids, because he wants to work with you to do what’s best for them even though you’re leaving him — and you’ll give it to them. Here again, you will avoid a nasty confrontation. Who will they cry to? You? You’re just the teary-eyed bearer of the letter. Him? The one who’s sweating it out in the desert?

There will be no moving truck, no boxes, no house torn asunder. The soldier is peeing in a bucket as you pack. He doesn’t care who gets the couch.

I can chart the entire history of my first marriage along the lines of U.S. military engagements. I fell in love with my ex-husband in no small part because he was a soldier. He was a Dartmouth senior on a ROTC scholarship, and his heroes were George Patton and Ulysses S. Grant. He could use words like “valor” and “courage” without irony. I liked the way he carried himself — taller it seemed, and with honor.

He was from Oklahoma, I was from Wyoming, and Dartmouth was a culture shock for both of us. We were public high school kids who’d grown up driving pickup trucks and going to church on Sunday. We came from families who ate hot breakfasts together and said prayers over dinner. I was a wide-eyed freshman, experiencing Virginia Woolf and Henry David Thoreau for the first time. John was slightly more worldly. He was in a coed fraternity and owned a motorcycle — things that raised eyebrows at the weekly Campus Crusade for Christ meetings we both attended. I didn’t pay attention to their warnings.

Seven months later I was pregnant, married (in that order) and living in a motel room outside of Fort Knox, Ky. John, a newly minted second lieutenant, Armor Branch, had been activated the day after his graduation as part of Operation Desert Shield. I was traumatized, having moved overnight from the campus and freedom I had only just started to enjoy, but even then full of the resolve that would take me back to Dartmouth full-time, baby in tow. It helped that the other lieutenants in the Armor Officer Basic Course spent a lot of time with us in our married officer’s quarters. They were great, smart, handsome guys — the Channing Tatums and Jake Gyllenhaals of their day — as committed to winning their squadron intramural football league as they were to the complexities of tank gunnery and platoon leadership. Since they’d left their sweethearts at home, my unborn baby and I were the local version of what they were fighting for. Soon I too was caught up in the romance that comes with men who go off to war, seduced by the heady mix of youth, strength, risk and passion that makes loving a soldier so beautifully intense. It’s the same brew that fuels the drumbeat sexuality in contemporary war movies like “Jarhead” and “Atonement,” last December’s “Brothers,” and, one would presume, the upcoming “Dear John.” It’s a glory we can’t get enough of — until it’s gone.


Desert Storm ended just 11 days after the birth of our son, but within weeks John and I were facing a wrenching tragedy. My husband’s brother, a U.S. Navy pilot, was killed in a training accident leaving behind my new sister-in-law, and their daughter and baby son. My husband had to drop out of training to be at his own brother’s funeral. I spent most of the memorial service watching my dead brother-in-law’s children play in the nursery. I was still learning how to breast-feed.

Just two years later, at Christmas, John deployed to Somalia. I was commuting between Fort Drum, N.Y., and Dartmouth, finishing up my senior year, writing an honors thesis — most of which I wrote with my 2-year-old son on my lap. One hundred and fifty inches of snow fell at Drum that winter. I wore my husband’s sweat shirts and shoveled pathways and researched medieval literature. My husband went on armed reconnaissance missions. There were no phones in the desert. Letters took weeks and weeks to arrive.

He made it home in time to be at my graduation, but a year and a half later he deployed again, this time to the U.S. peacekeeping mission in Haiti. I was pregnant again, and morning sick, living full time at Fort Drum, gagging while I struggled to make simple meals for our 3-year old. I was grateful to the other wives in my husband’s unit who took time to introduce themselves and lend a hand, but upstate New York was a cold place for a 23-year-old bookish mother of two to be alone.

John’s next assignment was Korea, an unaccompanied tour, which meant that we could not go with him. It began when our new baby daughter was 6 weeks old. While he was there we could only afford to talk by phone once or twice a month; there were no digital wonders like e-mail and video chat then. When my husband came back it felt odd to see him holding our daughter. It was as though she was in the arms of a handsome stranger. It felt odd to have him sleeping in what had become my bed.

We decided enough was enough. John would go on reserve status. We would put each other through grad school and get jobs in the private sector. For a while it worked. We were a couple again. We cooked and ate dinner together, took our kids trick-or-treating at Halloween. At night we sat close and watched movies. When our son decided to whistle “Oh My Darlin'” for the school talent show, John was there.

Then came 9/11. My husband, like so many others, saw the attacks as a call to action. He went back on active duty and volunteered for a tour in Egypt. Our children were old enough to miss their father now. I put a calendar up in the kitchen so we could check off the days, took them both for cupcakes to cheer them up as we walked home from kindergarten. A part of me was proud of how brave we were all being. The other part was weary with being brave. I took a job at an independent bookstore and started spending time with the young, funny, book-reading guys I met there. When John came back things were awkward. I couldn’t stop myself from being angry, couldn’t help feeling abandoned.

Orders to Iraq were inevitable, and it was a real war this time, not just another peacekeeping mission. I knew from experience what my life would again look like: the inadequate, sporadic phone calls, the grinding frustration of single parenting, the loneliness of being both partnered and partnerless. What I was unprepared for was photos of suicide bombings in the Times, television ticker headlines that nagged at me wherever I went, and worse beyond all imagining, the way the war dragged on and on and on.

My life and my kids’ lives became still more challenging. I’d just started a career-track teaching position. Our son was starting junior high and playing football. I wasn’t the parent he wanted around for advice. Our daughter was riding the school bus for the first time by herself. She started getting stomachaches and having nightmares. It was too early in the war to expect phone calls or many letters, and around that absence the children kept an awkward silence that I could not break no matter how I tried. I felt helpless, haunted by the image of two uniformed soldiers ringing my doorbell to tell me the same thing they’d told my sister-in-law — that my husband was dead. Killed in action. It was a phrase that rattled around in my head. I felt angry that I had to be afraid. Guilty for being angry.

Meanwhile I was just 30 years old, working with teenage students, surfing all of their exuberant, sexy, rowdy energy. I was teaching the great literary love stories in class, and coaching Ultimate Frisbee in the exhilarating spring air. On weekends my book-reading friends from the bookstore stopped by. We made dinners together, spent evenings talking and laughing. I liked it that we had so many things to talk about. I liked it that they were near.

My husband was a world away from me. After 12 years of distance it felt as though he always would be. I was worn out with waiting. So I left him.


I don’t think, actually, that the romance of the war hero is a lie, that the courage and strength that blaze out of our soldiers’ eyes is fool’s gold, nor that we are wrong to fall in love with them for the beauty of it. I believe, with President Obama, that force is sometimes necessary and that to believe so is not cynical, but rational. Since I believe this, I believe in the good and noble soldier. But the truth about what loving and partnering with this soldier is like over a long period of time is tougher. Loyalty and sympathy to my husband I had plenty of. Affection has abode to this day. Erotic love was different for me. More fragile.

The wounds did heal pretty clean. John is a lieutenant colonel now, and while we were once good, we are now better. He lives in Stuttgart, Germany, with his new wife and twin baby daughters, and we e-mail and call each other often. He tells me about taking our kids and the babies to Paris and Frankfurt. I send him photos of our daughter’s field hockey games. When our son graduated high school last June we stood side by side.

I am married to a lithe, blue-eyed Marxist whose dissertation was on U.S. imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a man who participated in war protests in Santa Cruz, Calif., during the winter I lived at Fort Knox. He has two children of his own — bright, intense redheads, close in age to mine. I live with him in a tiny apartment in Manhattan, and when we can, we commute together to work. On weekends if we are not at a museum or movie together, we are at home right up next to each other.

Yet I didn’t escape what it feels like to love a soldier.

Last July my son, the baby that was born to television coverage of Operation Desert Storm, said goodbye to his high school friends, shaved his head and enrolled in the United States Naval Academy. I am deeply proud of him, but it was my ex-husband who stood with my son on Induction Day. I could not bear to be there, could not watch the child of my body step away from the safe, civilian world I’d tried to so desperately to create for myself and him.

At the end of the day, my children’s father called me to tell me that our son was already standing straighter and taller in his new uniform, that he’d handled the equipment issue, medical tests, immunizations and drills without any trouble.

“He will be OK,” his Dad said. “It will be the making of him.”

I believe my former soldier, but I’m afraid of what it’s going to feel like to love my new one. 

39 Comments leave one →
  1. LAW permalink
    February 1, 2010 2:22 pm

    In the first two paragraphs, CC got my back up… and I never shook the impression of “ME ME ME… It’s all about MEEEEEEEEE…” and I also got the impression that she blamed the Military, the Spouse and everyone else.. but accepted none of it for herself. Couldn’t it just have been that the marriage wasn’t going to last no matter what, because she seems to think that marriage is all about meeting HER needs, not THEIR needs? Military marriages do have some additional hurdles, deployments/reintegration/moving/lack of career opportunities for the not in uniform spouse, but you are either willing to work at it, or you aren’t. Not ONE of us set out on this little adventure saying, I WANT to me be a Milspouse during 2 wars… we said I love this person and want to be married to him. You can either work at it or not, put up with the deployments and disappointments or not, but that is YOUR choice, the military doesn’t make it for you [and since it makes a lot of the others for you – where you are going to live, how often you see your spouse etc, not having it make this one is a change]

    Is it only a marriage if you are in the same time zone? yes, that does make the “erotic love” she talks about possible.. but marriages are more than that, aren’t they? don’t her kids still have a dad who wasn’t there, whether they divorced or not? Of course, seeing their son’s decision, I’d say Dad had a huge influence on him, home or away!! Whether or not she meant to, CC sounds cold and selfish. She didn’t have to weep and wail about the demise of her marriage, but some regret would have been welcome, and normal. Her refusal to stand with her son, I cannot understand. Going to our son’s graduation from Basic – was one of those moments I’ll never forget.


  2. February 1, 2010 3:45 pm

    Hmm. That was an interesting read. I will say my initial thoughts were along the same lines as LAW’s….she sounds very selfish, like she married too young. And I felt sorry for her ex-husband.

    Believe me, there are moments in my marriage where I have entertained thoughts of how life would be much the same if I left him, since I was alone anyway. I don’t fault her for needing more out of a relationship than her ex-husband could provide, or growing apart, or whatever the reasons for a marriage to end. We all handle things differently, and heaven knows not everyone is cut out to be a military spouse. However, that being said, I was pretty disgusted with both the title of her piece and the first paragraphs about how “easy” it will be. I would NEVER do that during a deployment. If you choose to end your marriage, at least have the decency to hash it out face to face and give the other person the chance to say what they need to say. Not reading your letter in the desert while in harm’s way. I’m sorry, but in my book that is cowardly.

  3. February 1, 2010 4:29 pm

    Being married is not easy, when you marry into the military there are extra challenges. But, when you marry a military man, it’s all part of the package. Unfortunately, it’s something nobody ever really talks about until you’re married, sitting around talking to other mil spouses about how much your life sucks right now because your husband is deployed, on a field op, whatever he’s doing that is keeping him from home.

    But if you were expecting to come BEFORE his job, which is HIS LIFE, you will be miserable and unless you change that attitude and/or realize that when you are mil spouse (sorry to say) it is all about HIM (hell, I learned my husband’s SSN before I memorized my OWN) you will NEVER be happy and perhaps it’s best he found someone more suited to his lifestyle, which she clearly was not.

  4. February 1, 2010 4:47 pm

    I look at it like this — This woman took absolutely NO responsibility for her marriage whatsoever. She was selfish, self-righteous, and tried to play the pity card. She had an excellent opportunity to explain to people who didn’t understand how difficult marriage could be during a time of war.

    But the simple fact is this; a marriage is between two people. Things will ALWAYS get in the way. If it’s not a deployment, it’s kids, or the spouses job, or, you know … LIFE. Shit happens. And to me it sounds like she chose not to make an effort, not to try and make things work. She chose the easy way out, blamed her husband and his job and left. She was a COWARD who wrote him a letter during a deployment, and then made HIM write a letter to their kids?? Are you kidding me?

    Marriage takes work. Regardless of your situation. And it takes two. She took zero responsibility, and that irks me.

    • February 1, 2010 4:51 pm

      I’ll give that an AMEN and a HOLLA. You said everything I was thinking and better than I could!

      The bad stuff in life is no more the fault of the military than the good stuff is. This was all about personal responsibility and her egregious lack thereof.

  5. IndieArmyWife permalink
    February 1, 2010 4:51 pm

    For me this comment really stood out, “I fell in love with my ex-husband in no small part because he was a soldier.”

    Well maybe that was the problem….she didn’t fall in love with him for the entirety of who he was, but mostly because he was a soldier. It sounds to me like she didn’t have a very mature view of what marriage is all about or even what love is all about. As someone who is actively and adamantly pursuing advanced degrees and a career myself I can sympathize with having your goals disrupted constantly and as my husband gets ready to leave for his second year long deployment I understand the hardships of being alone and the terrible strain that deployment can put on a marriage.

    But, I love my husband for who he is as a whole person, not because he is a soldier. He is much more than a soldier, although being a soldier is part of him and I wouldn’t expect him to give it up I don’t love him solely because of his military career. In fact, I almost didn’t marry him because he was a soldier, but that’s an entirely other issue.

    For sure not every person is cut out to be the partner of a soldier, and it’s not like I haven’t considered leaving at times because of certain aspects of this life, but when I took a hard look at my life, my goals, and my heart I decided I’d rather brave this military life and share whatever time I could have with him than live without him in my life. And to me that’s what matters and that’s what keeps me here.

    But for the record, I think the fact that she left him while he was deployed was shockingly selfish and says a lot about her (lack of) character and selfishness.

    • February 1, 2010 4:53 pm

      You made the same point my husband did- she married him for the wrong reasons and then blamed those exact reasons for the failure of her marriage. To me, there is a lot of self reflection that didn’t happen here.

  6. February 1, 2010 5:14 pm

    I personally thought it was phenomenally creepy that she mentioned how much she liked hanging out with the young guys at the bookstore and — even grosser — the “exuberant, sexy, rowdy” teenagers she taught at school. It sounds like her idea of erotic love is a bit inappropriate and based solely on whoever was giving her attention right at the moment. No wonder her long-distance marriage wasn’t fulfilling.

    • tehlia permalink
      February 3, 2010 7:08 pm

      Wow. I thought I was the only one who read those lines. Very creepy indeed. I guess when she fell in love with a soldier she forgot that their purpose is to defend the country and for The US that means out of the country. Silly silly girl. Definitely needed a lot of attention and would take it from any warm body.

  7. February 1, 2010 5:33 pm

    One of my friends told me that having children puts a magnifying glass on your marriage. Her point was that any flaws or weaknesses in your relationship are amplified when you add children into the equation.

    I think being military marriages are the same. Your foundation must be strong and both partners must be willing to work hard at making it work.

    I agree very much with IndieArmyWife. And I think that their young age / immaturity contributed very much to the eventual ending of their marriage.

  8. February 1, 2010 5:48 pm

    I agree with all of the above comments. While I’m not actually married, I have been in a committed relationship with m boyfriend for four years. We’ve been together in times when we were in the same town, state, countr, and then times when we were not. When I said I would be his girlfriend, I knew quite well what I was getting myself into. This woman clearly did not, nor did she take it upon herself to rise to the challenge. I also feel as though she has given up on her own self-respect. Do you really need a man around to make you happy? To be a good parent? Plenty of people do it everyday sweetheart. I’m not saying its easy, but it certainly makes them more decent than someone that is too cowardly to stay the course during a deployment.

  9. February 1, 2010 6:17 pm

    Sarah -I thought the same thing. I think I acutally said out loud “thats a little inappropriate”.

    And after thinking about this for a while today I still feel like the woman was self-serving and cold. But really I the marriage had an uphill climb from Day 1. She fell in love with him admittedly because he was a soldier. They were young and naive, and probably had these romantic ideals about what their life would be like. But reality sets in really hard when you wake up and realize that fantasy you had about life is never going to come true. However, I think its great that they were able to be civil at the end of the day.

    But her character is showed not only in the way she leaves her husband, but by the way that she conducts her self before and after she leaves. How can she not be there for her son on his induction day? Whether its what she wanted for him or not, as a mother – if you really are proud of your son – you should be there.

    Just my take.

    • Jennifer permalink
      February 1, 2010 11:54 pm

      I agree about her character showing in many instances through this piece. I really can’t get past the beginning. Maybe it is because my husband’s exwife left him while he was deployed. The idea of using a deployment and also your kids to hide behind and deflect responsibilty for your actions and choices is just gross to me. As is her lamely vague admission of infidelity and To Die For fantasies.

      I think it is a shame she felt it necessary to be so cavalier about choosing to leave your spouse while they are deployed. Especially when kids are involved. And her son’s choice to serve despite his lithe stepdad is telling.

      Marriage is work and some don’t last. I don’t imagine it any other way. She had it hard, but for most of us the effort to make it work and come out the other side outweighs the hard stuff.

      All in all, I think I just don’t like her writing. Was the beginning supposed to be funny? Did she just not want to publically sh*t talk her exhusband and the sordid (non-me me me) details of their/his marital shortcomings and so all we get is this sing songy look at their timeline that does her no favors? Does she know she could never stoop so low as to writing a new letter to her son that she seeks to publish this as some kind of place holder?

      I don’t get it.

  10. Wishful Bohemian permalink
    February 2, 2010 8:36 am

    I agree with the tone of most of these comments, the only exception being the “inappropriateness” of her desire to find an identity with a younger, sexier crowd. That issue on it’s own doesn’t make her a selfish person, unless we’re willing to admit that not giving up our sexual identity and attractiveness makes us all bad people. I spent all of my 20’s being a single parent (no dating, even) and now, married and in my 30s, I can relate to the longing to recapture a little of that free-spirited flirtation I missed out on. It’s not so much selfishness as a desire to forget what I know, to go back to a time when I had more “firsts” ahead of me than behind me, even if only for the space of an energetic young man’s brief smile. As long as that feeling is limited to an internal thought process inspired by only smiles, I don’t see the harm.

    That being said, however, it’s clear from the rest of the article that the author is deeply invested in the appearance of romantic relationships: comparing her early mil-life acquaintances with movie stars and slick hollywood productions, painting her current husband in the adjectives of a revolutionary, and describing herself in terms both tragic and romantic. Framing the life and demise of her first marriage in such egregiously self-centered terms illustrates that instead of feeling like she missed her youth, on the contrary – she’s still there. Happily, it looks like her refusal to grow up hasn’t set the example for her son.

  11. Michelle permalink
    February 2, 2010 8:15 pm

    Well…I find it pretty typical of a ‘’ piece. Self centered, egotistical, and whiny while attempting to be deep and introspective. I pretty much agree with what everyone else has said.

    And how sad for her son that she’ll probably complain and whine at his career choice and will probably be pissed off when sonny doesn’t call on her birthday because he’s in Iraq. (oh, wait, that’s my mother in law)

  12. loretta permalink
    February 2, 2010 8:42 pm

    well i am a young mother of two. i am now recently an army wife. i dont know why someone would write this on one hand and from another point i can see why. my opinion is that if you come into a relationship know that at some point that you may be separated from your significant other for long periods of time and you feel that you may not be able to handle that then maybe you should not enter that path of life. my husband and i have been married for three years this year and together for four. this life it not for the faint of heart. this is for the strong willed and strong hearted. you have to let go sometimes to see how much you really love someone. i know when i let my hubby go that i loved him but i did not know how much. i do now. to tell you the truth is scares me. i know by the grace of the lord above that he and i can weather any storm. i hope that no man or woman would EVER have to write one of those letters. may the lord bless all who read my comment and may he keep all safe in their life paths. thank you all and have a wonderful day.

  13. ruth permalink
    February 2, 2010 9:05 pm

    i fell that is what every soilder spouse goese through. i have been mairred for 16 years to a soild. he has come to a desion that he doese not love me any more.

    • Carolyn permalink
      February 4, 2010 6:58 pm


      I am so sorry for your marriage ending. Being married to Military is hard and for the most part 80% of them cheat and they are all about finding someone else to replace what they have, why cuz they are selfish. Marriage doesnt have the value that it should have like back in the day when my parents got married now people are getting married for the right reasons, tostand my each other no matter what.

      Take care and know that at the end of the day God will help you heel from this

  14. February 2, 2010 9:11 pm

    I think she is a perfect example of some of the spouses I have met over the past few years. The few that romanticize the life of a military spouse. The ones who claim it’s all the military’s fault or the Soldier’s fault that their marriage didn’t work out.

    Like so many others said, they married for the wrong reasons therefore there was no foundation to build upon.

    Sad because the divorce rate now for the military is probably made up of marriage failures due to this very problem.

    In any marriage there is give and take…maybe she’ll make it with this one…only if she changes her “me, me, me attitude”

  15. AFtuckerclan permalink
    February 3, 2010 3:25 pm

    This has to be the worst article written by a (former) milspouse that I have ever read. It took my breath away… like someone just punched me in the stomach. It makes me want to hold onto my husband more than ever before and thank my lucky stars I am married to a member of our Armed Forces. Is a testament that not everyone is selfless enough to be married to a man/woman that is protecting our great nation.

  16. amanda permalink
    February 4, 2010 3:02 am

    I sent this email to the editor at Salon:

    I have been both a deployed single parent and a spouse raising a child through a deployment. Each comes with their own unique challenges.
    It takes a great deal of honesty and strength to stick by the side of soldier, and they certainly need your support. I could not have done either without my family supporting me. In the case of the spouse, they must be able to have a sense of self reliance and confidence or it will never work.

    While I found this a rather brave and openly narcissistic autobiography of sorts, I also found it incredibly disturbing. I give kudos to anyone willing to shed light on their shortcomings and breaking points, but that truly appears to be all this read is offering. I found it lacking in direction or purpose, unless the purpose is solely for the author. Fitting with the theme it seems…wallowing self pity. Was her audience ever considered? Save these entries for your diary Mrs. Cook.

    Also, the reader comments were disturbing as well…they were either MUCH too abrasive towards the author (what happens when you have no point) or MUCH too abrasive towards soldiers. I’ve already expressed my opinion on the writing, and as the daughter and wife of soldiers, as well as former soldier (from Oklahoma as well) I would like to state that your elected congress and president send troops to war not vice versa. Soldiers take an oath and are serious about protecting our Constitution…which allows for our freedom of speech that Mrs. Cooks new husband certainly practiced. Fortunately for her, it does not distinguish between publically professed pity and pieces that leave us the better for reading them.

    I would happily read this again if she would figure out who her intended audience is and what she is trying convey.

  17. February 4, 2010 3:57 pm

    It has taken me a while to get my thoughts in order to respond, but here goes:
    This hit me like a sucker punch to the gut, as I have been on the receiving end of the “other side” of this. I found out last fall how “easy” it seems for a soldier to leave their sig other, then hop a plane and not have to deal with the devestation they left behind. In reality is wasn’t as easy for him, nor as “right” as he thought it was, but we are still trying to heal from it.
    Part of what brought him to his original decision was women like the author. Him saying he couldn’t deal with me being like her, so he was launching a pre-emptive strike. He didn’t think I deserved “the life of a military wife”, that I deserved more than that out of life.
    I agree with most of the comments made above, and will add one:
    Women like the author do damage to the rest of us. I can’t count the number of times I hear from someone who is having trouble in their own relationship because of their loved one sitting around with other soldiers and relating relationship horror stories. Which plants ideas that fester … and then they either decide they can’t trust us, or they love us too much to put us through the hardships this life has to offer.

  18. Carolyn permalink
    February 4, 2010 7:00 pm

    I feel she married for the wrong reasons. However being married to Military is very hard as each time they come back thy are a little more broken.

    SF Wife

  19. Shevon permalink
    February 16, 2010 4:15 am

    I thought the whole thing was gross. She did sound creepy, and cold and selfish. The most amazing part to me is that nothing was wrong with their marriage that a little therapy couldn’t have handled. The entire article was just another woman who was unwilling to keep trying when her own choices landed her in a hard spot. Disgusting.

  20. February 20, 2010 11:29 am


  21. Bob permalink
    March 2, 2010 7:26 am

    I listened to this person talk about this essay and her marriage to a soldier on NPR yesterday, and I got the impression that she has no sense of duty, no sense of commitment, no sense of anything except self. This seems to be a common theme among a large portion of her generation. I have seldom heard any discourse that was so self-centered.

    She states that a long-term deployment is so hard. It is. She left her husband AFTER the deployment ended. At the end of the radio interview, she admits that she never really got away from the military presence, since her son is now a soldier, and she consults her ex about the details of the likely experiences of her son. So what did she achieve by leaving her husband? By the way, there is a difference between a husband and a boyfriend.

    The truth is, she was never present in the marriage to begin with, never really committed, never really bonded to her husband. To her it was almost casual. It is sad, because she is missing out on what real love can bring.

  22. Ashlee permalink
    March 3, 2010 1:55 pm

    This is one of the most DISTURBING essays I have ever read. I do agree with the comment about these type of woman who make our life soo much more challenging..In my husbands finance class (in AIT) they told the soldiers to set up a seperate bank account without telling their wife…so that when your wife leaves you, “without ANYTHING” that they have some money in the bank when they come home?!?! It was almost like they were assuming the marriages wouldnt work..Its girls like this that make our men (who should be focused on their job–especially while fighting this war)have that wall up. I think to leave a soldier while deployed is so cowardly..I can only imagine the thoughts of the children and the lessons that the children were taught to them about marriage. Being married to a soldier has made me so proud..I couldnt imagine feeling the way the auther felt!

    • Tammy permalink
      March 3, 2010 11:15 pm

      When my husband came home from a recent deployment (and this one was less than 3 months long) he went through the mandatory counseling. He was so disturbed by the content. He said there was a good portion of it that was dedicated how to handle returning to a cheating spouse or a spouse that has left you. The thought had never crossed his mind while he was deployed but he really felt the “counseling” planted that seed of doubt in the minds of many. And this is helpful how?

      • Betty permalink
        November 27, 2010 7:25 pm

        counseling doesnt put a seed of doubt in the hearts of many. It put a seed f doubt in the heart of your’s. Thank goodness for the counseling. If less people complained about it, more soildiers would be willing to take it.

        • Betty permalink
          November 27, 2010 7:26 pm

          I mean willing to pay attention in it, instead of counting the minutes until its over, like they do

        • Tammy permalink
          November 28, 2010 3:56 pm

          I may have misunderstood your comment, but it did not plant a seed of doubt in our hearts. My husband noticed the response in others.

  23. dee permalink
    October 24, 2010 6:49 am

    Am I the only person that thinks its exceptable to think about what you want from your own life rather than strive to be strong enough to give up your own happiness for somebody else? She obviously married him young and for the wrong reasons and realised later that she had made a mistake and it wasnt the life for her. Yes it takes alot of strength to be the spouse of a soldier and if thats what you want then you find ways to make it work and pull through but if it isnt what you want then why should you? if you are unhappy why force it?. The only thing I disagree with is the way she ended it, yeah she was a coward but who hasnt been at some point in their lives? by being honest with her husband and herself she set them both free and now they are both in marriages that are suited to them.
    I am married to a soldier and find it difficult when he is deployed, when I seek comfort the usual line I hear is ‘oh well you knew what you were marrying into’ if I hear that one more time I swear I shall scream! actually this is the first soldier I have married so I could only imagine what things would be like, I had no idea how hard it would be. If god forbid he was to be killed in action should his headstone read ‘oh well he knew what he signed up for’. I love my husband and choose to make it work, but 10 years down the line maybe our marraige will fail, but if it does its because it is not the marriage for either of us. I think after 12 years commited to her husband it took alot of strength to accept that it was the wrong decision, she clearly didnt give up easily. For people that think the first paragraph sounds me me me thats called honesty, people dont automatically think in the head the right thing you can control what you say out loud but its natural to be selfish sometimes

  24. Betty permalink
    November 27, 2010 5:37 pm

    I cant even read all these comments because I am getting angrier by the minute. These smug, judgemental, commentators are the reason those of us with questions, fears, vulnerabilities are afraid to speak up and why we end our marriages. We end up isolated and more alone because the one community that should be supporting each other (milspouses) isn’t. You people may have the strength and fortitude of 10 women, but others do not. Instead of sharing your strength, you use it to tear another woman down and that is not cool.

    I have been in love with my soldier for 20 years but I am about to break from the pressure. It is refreshing to find a blog that isn’t full of rah, rah, flag-waving lies and recipes cards.

    The military has changed my love from a loving, sensitive, fun beautiful man into an angry, fearful, bully who, even when deployed in the states can no longer be bothered to communicate with his wife. We are just a mandatory phone call and come in about 4th on his list of priorities.

    I, for one am angry. I am pissed off and resentful and I am tired of having to hide my feelings because it is “selfish” of me to voice my them. So many people assume that we knew what we were in for when we married our soldiers. No one can prepare you for this and, in my case, I was assured that in ONE year, he would retire (4 years ago and counting) so it’s not always the case that we have made our beds and now must lie in it.

    After 5 deployments we have had to deal with severe PTSD when he does come home. That comes with bullying, verbal abuse, abandonment, and loneliness. We live off base and there is no support for me/. My friends don’t understand and when I have reached out to other milspouses, I hear the same rhetoric that I am seeing here. It’s like you were all brainwashed as the same camp.

    You know what? Its okay to have feelings and to express them, even if it seems selfish. Shame on all of you for attacking the writer. And bless her heart for being honest. We all do the best we can and if leaving him was the best thing she knew how to do, then she did the right thing, letter or no letter.

    • libarmywife permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:20 pm

      Betty – what most of us are saying is – the WAY she did it. The WAY she wrote this piece was “I don’t give a damn about you or anyone else, it’s all about ME”

      Having feelings, is why we are here. We don’t fart rainbows and fairydust, we bitch, we moan. Being selfish is one thing, we all need to be selfish to some degree to survive. But. the sneaking out, cleaning him out “screw you” attitude was what bothered most of us. Leaving him was her decision and if that is what she needed to do, fine! BUT. How she did it was distasteful to most of us.


  25. Charlie permalink
    May 27, 2011 1:09 pm

    After reading the first 3 paragraphs of Cook’s article, it appeared to be harsh and cold. But after reading the rest of the article, it appears she may have very well said to her husband “if you leave this will be the end of us”. The author’s comments of “Who will they cry too”.. makes me think of how many tears she has shed throughout her journey of being married to a dedicated career soldier. I read deeper, and in my opinion view the article reflective of the heartache she went through, and the structure of the first parts of the article expressing resentment. Resentment felt through loss.

    Cook did not elaborate and discuss conversations between herself and her husband in the article about how her husbands life in the army was affecting her, their marriage or their children. One would assume she would have. Cook only mentions that enough was enough, and he went on reserve status.

    It is no secret, how much heartache army wives go through when their husbands go on deployment. We are constantly worried about their safety, physically, mentally and emotionally. The army lifestyle and deployments not only affect the solider it affects their immediate kin too. Wives and girlfriends are left at home to hold the fort and support their husbands when they come back home, not to mention having to deal with the effects that the war has had upon their loved ones. If you are an army wife, I dont need to go into anymore detail as you know what Im talking about.

    Yes, she married a soldier. I agree that a wife should be supportive and stand by her husband, but marriage is also a two way street. At the end of the day, there needs to be balance. If its one sided then the other side suffers. Her husband went on not just one, or two deployments. He was away for long periods of time, and quite frequently. Her comments regarding surfing exuberant, sexy, and rowdy energy of young men is reflective of her long periods of loneliness, and feelings of abandonment in her marriage. She is human and she did not mention if she cheated. If you can be in her shoes, in her exact situation, and still be happy and stand by your solider, you are a strong individual and I take my hat off to you. Your partner is one lucky man.

    Cook’s article is one woman’s experience as an army wife. This may represent many army wives feelings, and may oppose others. If I can say this in a nice way without offence, try reading this article a little deeper. There is more to it and its reflective of what she’s been through. Remember, Cook is a human being, just like you.


  1. on leaving a soldier « just mixed up enough
  2. The Pitfalls of Confessional Culture » Taylor Empire Airways

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: