Me: Tell us about some of the things you’ve learned as a military brat and now as a military wife.
Hayley Duque: It has been interesting transitioning from a child from a military family to having a military spouse. I can say my mom was really amazing. She raised my sister and me and she took care of everything when my dad was away. As a kid, I was just like oh, dad’s gone and that sucks. As a grown up, I get to take care of everything. Even something as frequent as moving, as a kid, the movers just show up and you stay out of the way. As a spouse, I have to schedule, organize, coordinate the receiving end, etc. Part of it is just being an adult in general. As a kid though, I didn’t realize how much my parents did. It gives me a new sense of appreciation for all that they did and really renews the sense of appreciation I have for them.
I think it’s always a struggle when you move somewhere and everything’s brand new to you. Being a military kid, I learned early on that if you don’t go out and make friends, they’re not going to come to you. If I didn’t want to spend 2 years in a new school and sit in the corner without any friends, I had to go out and make new friends. Knowing that definitely helped when I went to college and when I got married.
It’s not as hard now to go out, meet new people, find new friends, and experience different things. I’ve learned to take more initiative and how to settle in. For example, when my husband, Brian, got stationed in Alaska, it was far away from everyone and we were newly married. I learned I couldn’t just stay holed up. I had to get out there. I worked with the University of Alaska and taught clarinet through them. I also played in their ensemble. I think being resilient is something that I’ve learned.
As a couple, I think it has really been a matter of us working together on the same goals. I married a man who’s also married to what he does. To be successful and to make it through as a military couple, you have to accept that. For the active duty member to successfully serve and for the relationship to work, everyone has to understand the active duty member’s first and foremost responsibility is to do what the military says. Duty has to be first. There needs to be an understanding that being in the military is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.
When Brian’s gone, it’s tough at times. There’s a joke in the military that anything that could go wrong while your spouse is deployed will go wrong. Everything that can break will break. Everything that can malfunction will. It has been true for the most part, from when I was a kid and now, as a spouse.
Even though it’s tough to be the one to stay behind and take care of things when the Service Member goes off on deployments, it’s always tougher for them to leave. For them, they may be going over into sometimes scary or dangerous situations. They miss things back home, milestones, time with family, etc. So I hope Brian will always know I understand and appreciate that.
Every relationship is flawed and we’re no different in that way. Going forward, I’d like us to keep that commitment to be partners and friends and to continue to get stronger as a team. I hope I do good enough of a job and I’m sure I don’t, to make sure he knows I’m always on his side and I’ll always be there for him. I try to make sure he knows how I feel about him, be it a note in his lunchbox, a thoughtful care package while he’s deployed, or just talking about it with him over dinner. I support everything he does, and I know he does the same for me. We both agree that’s how it has to be to make a marriage work. We have to be there for each other, have each other’s back no matter what, and work together in everything life throws at us. And since we’re a military family, life throws us lots of curve balls, but together we can navigate it successfully.