A submariner’s wife is unlike any other woman in the civilian or Naval world.
You get used to:
…your husband being completely incommunicado when out on ‘patrol’ or an ‘exercise’ (sailing) which can stretch from 4 days to 45 days. In a world of tweets, texts, Facebook, email, chats, it takes some getting used to.
…being left alone to cope with situations your man is usually in charge of like getting the fridge, car, air-conditioner, toilet, water filter fixed.
…no SAT COM on which to talk to your husband every other day, unlike some other lucky wives
…running the household like a hotel because your husband is only home for two day visits before another ‘patrol’.
… your week is measured in the length of the sailing period.
…the days he is home are celebrated like it’s the weekend.
….saying, ‘I don’t know’ to holiday plans, visits to/by family, dinner plans because you just don’t know the sailing schedule in advance.
…birthdays and anniversaries being occasions you will potentially not be spending together.
…the fact that your dog is the only person you’ve spoken to since he went sailing.
…your dog/cat/child falling sick, getting injured, getting into trouble at the precise moment he leaves harbour.
…rushing to the harbour to see the boat coming in (with dog/cat/child in tow)
…being a tour guide in your own home because your husband can’t find anything in the house as he’s constantly away and can’t remember where things are.
…his total panic when having to wear ‘The Whites’ (as they are so used to ‘The Blues’)
….terms like ‘turning’ doesn’t mean the whole submarine is turned (rather, all instruments are checked) , ‘close up’ is not a brand of toothpaste but an order to take over a duty post and ‘blowing the heads’ doesn’t mean that people’s heads are exploding but that the toilets are being flushed out.
…roughing it out and not complaining because you know that he deals with so much worse on a daily basis.
…his office is on board a submarine – hot, stuffy and cramped.
…his strange bowel movement timings conditioned by the night watches.
…eating alone in bed when he’s away because you couldn’t be bothered setting the table for one.
…your husband coming home with giant crabs and prawns from passing fisherman who had a great catch as the sub came in to harbour.
…putting a career where you have to travel on hold because you have a dog/child/cat that you can’t leave alone.
…living in cities/towns where you are unlikely to know anyone at first or have family close by.
…your husband sleeping like a narrow unmoving tube because he’s so used to sleeping in a narrow bunk rather than a bed.
…treasuring what ever little time he has with you onshore before casting off again.
…(but) having a fight, major or minor just before he leaves for sailing and then feeling terribly guilty about it. Fights are usually an expression of the sadness you are feeling that he is going away again and has nothing to do with what you are fighting about.
…changing out of your fancy ‘going out’ clothes because the crew and boat could not be secured on time.
…reminding yourself of all things you have to tell him, sometimes weeks worth of news.
…he proudly brings home his chocolate rations so we can share it together.
What you don’t get used to:
…the smell when your husband returns from sailing. It has to be smelled to be believed – a combination of sweat, grease, bilge, feet.
…not hugging your husband when he comes home, no matter how long he’s been sailing because of the smell. Only our dog can greet him with over the top enthusiasm.
…fearing it’s bad news every time the Navy phone rings.
…complete admiration for how he survives the conditions on board and still comes home smiling.
…knowing that your husband has not bathed the entire time he’s been sailing (2 weeks to 40 days)
…visiting on board and marvelling at all the strange pipes, wires, smells, hot air, the tiny galley and close quarters.
…not being able to tell your dog when he’ll be coming home.
…seeing your dog wait for him by the front door and the disappointment when he doesn’t come home that night or the next, or the next.
…cooking for one.
…if the worst happens and they have to evacuate the boat underwater, your husband (the Executive Officer) will be the penultimate person to leave out of the 80 people.
…your wedding champagne transported from Russia in the torpedo tubes.
…the intense loneliness you feel in your heart when he has cast off.
…despite the smell a submariner’s homecoming is one of the sweetest moments in a submariner’s wife’s life.
…feeling supremely proud that he is a real man who needs nothing of life’s luxuries, survives in the most basic living conditions all to keep his family and country safe.