My partner and I are not actually married. We’ve been together a while, we live together, we look after a sweet little grey cat called Fischer together. We share a bank account and split bills, but there’s no ring on my finger.
So why do I call myself an army wife?
It’s pretty simple. The term ‘army wife’ is something we’ve all heard. It conjures up an image of someone who is married to a man in the army, who is committed to the relationship and all the challenges that come with being an army spouse. In my mind, the term ‘army girlfriend’ just means something different.
In a year and a half together I’ve lived in three states, shared two different homes with my partner, and he’s been stationed on three different bases. We’ve spent months apart, weeks with him on exercise, and been in two different states for six weeks while he started work and found us a place to live while I packed up my life and finished up my job so I could move to be with him.
Calling myself an army girlfriend just doesn’t have the same effect, and doesn’t even begin to cover the complexity of our relationship.
This is the same reason that I like to say that my partner is in the army, rather than my boyfriend, when people ask me questions about why I’ve moved to the area. It sounds a bit more grown up, a bit more committed, a bit more accurate.
Just because we aren’t legally married, it doesn’t mean that I’m not as committed or invested in my relationship as other 100% army wives.
My de facto status means that I’m as good as married in the eyes of the army, and one day I’ll hopefully be married in the eyes of the law, too. But for now, I’m going to keep on calling myself an army wife.