Kyra Wiens is a professional triathlete, yoga teacher, and holds AN MPA FROM UNC - Chapel Hill.

She has finished in the top 10 of all her pro races over the last year, in addition to 12th at the 70.3 North american Championships and 23rd at the 70.3 world championships in South Africa.

You're a military wife now.

You're a military wife now.

This is what my therapist says somewhere in the middle of our first session together.

Military. Wife.

This should be an obvious statement, but the way it struck me and how it continues to echo around inside my head highlights my resistance to the label. Military wife. 

I remember when we first moved out here, Sean immediately left for three weeks of training. That entire time he was gone, I unpacked boxes and put away dishes—by myself. An embracing military wife would perhaps find some pleasantness in the task. But instead, my unexamined adherence to a post-feminism notion of marriage made me angry and irritable about it all.

I was raised to be a woman who would have her own career, make her own life. I was not going to be trailing behind some man from state to state, a kid in one hand and an oven mitt holding a casserole in the other.

Without even knowing I've been doing it, I've been struggling for a long time: struggling with Sean, struggling with myself, struggling with what I want my life to look like.

Resisting the stereotype of military spouse has made by unable to accept the reality of who I am now. Example: My husband should have more time at home with me, so I feel angry and neglected because he doesn't. But the fact is, my husband's career demands long work hours and a lot of travel. Perhaps if I could accept that very real part of being his wife, I could explore how we might achieve connection and strength while apart in a more open-hearted way.

Military wife.

Did I quit my job a year ago because of Sean? No: I was miserable in that job and had been in every job for the ten years prior. But also, Yes: The moment I quit was when my supervisor announced we would no longer be allowed to telework. Christmas break was two weeks away, and we had no childcare plan without my being able to work at home. So I resigned.

Sean is very careful to respect my time, even now that I'm not working. He never says things like, "Well, since you're just at home can't you ___?" Part of this may be that I don't depend on him financially: I think this separation of resources helps us both remember that he's not entitled to my time and I'm not entitled to his income.

But maybe that's wrong? My husband has a very stressful job; maybe what he needs and what our marriage needs is for me to do the cooking and the laundry, to be the one to encourage him to go jam on his drums. I am pursuing a dream as a professional triathlete and as a new mother; maybe what I need is for him to provide the financial stability.

I just don't know, I never thought I would be here.

 

Wednesday morning, when I was suddenly feeling all this, I did how I do: Analyze Data. Categorizing every single day from January through the end of May, I made a chart representing how often Sean is working, traveling, or at home and off work. (And that would be two in that last category since January 1st, by the way).

I think I just needed to know I wasn't crazy, that these feelings I was having of my husband not being present were real.

But also, the fact that I would even make a chart like this means I've seriously lost it and should start counseling immediately. Which I did.

Hence, "You're a military wife."

 

My therapist is familiar with treating military members and their families. She has reminded me that the things that make my husband such a successful pilot and commander may also be the things that make our marriage a tough one.

"You can ask for what you want," she says, "but you may not get it."

I needed to hear this. I think I've had this idea in my head that if I just asked Sean in the right way, or convinced him of the legitimacy of my point of view, then he would realize I was right and he would change.

Yeah, that sounded a lot better in my head than it does when I write it down.

This work of {change it | surrender to it} is true in any relationship. But we make it a whole lot harder when we are fighting our own assumptions that we don't even know we have.

 

I love Sean and I know he is the man I am meant to spend now and forever with. That's part of what makes this so hard: I see what our marriage could be. To realize that potential, I'm going to need to get a lot more savvy about my blind spots and get curious, incredibly and tenderly curious, about where we can go from here.

 

(Wedding photo: Mike Olliver)

The things we measure

The things we measure

"I want to be brave," says my daughter

"I want to be brave," says my daughter