I’m Sorry, My Husband Isn’t Available Right Now

I’m not an easily frightened person. If I were, I would have been forced to deal with it a long time ago. Being an Army wife would have seen to that. Many of our spouses are TDY, involved in training exercises or deployed a good deal of the time. Whether or not we learn to adjust to being at home without our spouses, most of us learn clever ways to hide the fact that our husbands are away.

Before the booming Caller ID era, I used to answer the phone because I never knew when my husband may be on the other end, and I never knew how long the connection would survive. When the telemarketer asked for my husband, I would say, "I’m sorry he’s not available right now." The super-annoying ones would ask, "When would be a good time to call back." To which I thought, "in about seven months" but I couldn’t really say that.

Caller ID has taken care of that pesky little problem, as well as a few others.

CONTRACTORS: I had some carpenters in my house during a deployment. Each day, I would lay out mens shoes, clothing or items that made it appear that my husband was at home. I also removed a magnet, which clearly indicated I was the spouse of a deployed soldier, from the refrigerator. I conducted thorough reconnaissance missions of my house before strangers were allowed in, just to be sure there was no hint of my "situation."

REPAIRMEN: When my husband deployed, our air conditioning unit, which was brand new and was purchased during deployment (a story for another day), stopped working. Out came the repairman, who was the most thorough repairman I’ve ever had dispatched to my house. This man explained features that I didn’t even know existed. He wanted to troubleshoot something and asked me a series of questions that I didn’t have the answers to. Predictably, he then asked me to call my husband. I explained that my husband was in a meeting and wouldn’t be out for a while, thinking the explanation would take care of the dilemma. It didn’t, the repairman gave me his cell number and told me that my husband could call him and he could walk him through the setting based on their conversation. Uh oh…..

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Last Christmas, while my husband was deployed, my girlfriend came to spend a few days with me. We stopped at the local gas station where I always purchase my gas. I am friendly with the workers there, but not so friendly that I tell them my business. My girlfriend has never met a stranger and she struck up a conversation with the cashier. She told him that we had been friends forever, and that she wanted to come spend some time with me while my husband was deployed. Of course, she didn’t think anything about it, but I cringed.

MECHANICS: Thankfully, I haven’t had complex car issues while my husband was away. Not that there aren’t women out there who don’t know their way around an engine, there are, but it’s often a dead give away that a husband is out of town, or that a woman lives alone, when a female brings the car in for major repairs.

It really doesn’t matter if we are easily spooked or if we’re completely comfortable at home without our spouses, one can’t be too careful these days. Unfortunately, there are many predators out there who are all too eager to take advantage of our situation.

I’ve heard some funny stories about the lengths to which milspouses have gone to hide deployment status from strangers, like the time a milspouse "borrowed" a husband from her friend. What’s your story?

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • MedWife

    Okay, now that is just TACKY and WRONG. This is a military spouse support site, and you are advertising freaking s*xual tupperware!!
    Im sorry ladies, I dont mean to blow up, but I saw there was a comment and thought that I would be reading a post by another wife with good advice.
    Good grief….That just ticks me off royally.

  • Rick

    Oh well, the idiot did leave her email address AND phone number.

  • Yeah, she could have put that ad elsewhere . . . That was pretty lame.
    On the topic of feeling safe:
    I rented a house a few months after my husband left, so I don’t know my neighbors, neither is the house very visible or in very close proximity to my neighbors. Thankfully, the house isn’t very big, with few places for someone to hide or sneak around inside, and the landlord installed a security light by my driveway. I was a little nervous at first, but I own a shotgun that I know how to use and I began taking martial arts lessons a few months after renting the house. That, plus the recent (brought him home yesterday!) addition of a young German shepherd-Doberman mix, makes me all kinds of confident in my house by myself. :)
    I don’t really have much trouble telling people my husband is deployed, because I’ll tell them at the same time that a couple of my favorite hobbies are martial arts and skeet shooting. ;)

  • Rachel

    I don’t go around advertising that my DH is deployed (there are people at my office who don’t know and thoroughly shocked when I haven’t announced it off the rooftop that he has been gone for 3 months) but I don’t get scared. DH works mids when he is here so I had to get used to the fact that he is gone at nights when he works and now nights are not a problem for me. We do have a great alarm system – our two HUGE Sheperds that sleep in the bedroom with me (since he has deployed) as well as a security system. I didn’t like living with DH when he was working nights but I got used to it and it’s paying off now since I am alone every night.

  • Jo

    Usually with phone calls am I reserved about where Hubby is when he’s gone. But the lawn guy is a retired CSM, the neighbors know he’s gone and most everyone at work too. But I too don’t “announce” it and do not even have any stickers on the VUE that indicate military ‘cept the Fort Benning Sticker. I heard horror stories of violence against spouses with vehicle stickers that said, “My heart is in Iraq” and being followed home.

  • MedWife

    We live in a very rural community, and everyone here knows that my dh is gone..but its been a real blessing because they have been very willing to lend a hand when I scream in hysterics. :) But I AM extremely vague and guarded on the telephone.
    I even got a call from a University the other night, doing a survey for our county…they wanted specifics, and I refused to give them the info.
    Other than that, we have big dogs, bigger children (15 y/o and 13 y/o) and I have guns and know how to use them. :P

  • patti

    Its sad that we have to be cautious about telling people our spouses are deployed. We just moved to new house/new town and I’m very cautious in the people that I tell. Any major repairs or purchases that I make, I usually say that I have to consult my husband first. And it usually makes me very sad/mad when telemarkers continue asking questions about your spouse when you say they are not available…do they really want us to break down crying on the phone to them????

  • Bridget

    I tell everyone (in person, not over the phone) that my husband is deployed. I’m tired of the rest of the country not realizing that we’re at war. I want people to know that their neighbors are being deployed, and that adorable children like ours are missing their daddies. They may not be asked to make any sacrifice themselves, but they should at least be aware that others are.

  • This is an interesting topic for me because of my situation! Thanks for posting.
    I’m about to move to the U.K., where you are not allowed to own personal protection items such as a handgun or even mace or pepper spray! I will have a shotgun, but the British nanny state demands that they be kept unloaded and locked in a cabinet.
    My future husband and I are planning on getting a puppy, but the pup will only be a couple months old when hubby leaves for deployment. Also of note is the fact that the British don’t keep their married quarters on base, so I’ll be an American in a pretty small town.
    Should be fun fun fun to keep things quiet!

  • I absolutely *hate* the idea of hiding my husband’s status. I don’t like operating out of fear, and I refuse to do so. Although I’d much rather have my husband around, I’m an adult and I can take care of myself and the kids just fine, thank you.
    Of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t use caution and reason in my life when I’m alone. Knowing your neighbors well is not only good manners, but absolutely important for security. All the wives on our street keep each other informed of who’s where, and we keep an eye on each other. My church family keeps track of me as well (having a large Samoan pastor who comes around at least once a week is a good deterence).
    We own a large German shepherd who lets us know if anything seems amiss around our house, and his deep and loud bark is enough to scare away the hardiest criminal.
    The possibility of targeting by a criminal is not exclusive to spouses of deployed military; it can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. We can’t live in fear, and we don’t have to if we are just aware of how to stay safe.

  • Oh, I almost forgot – the first two months of last year’s deployment, I got continual sales calls from the NRA, of all places! I finally told them that they were wasting their time and mine, and that they wouldn’t be able to catch him at home for at least 7 more months. Maybe it was not smart, but their office is thousands of miles away, and it seemed that they would never quit calling unless I gave them the scoop.

  • smsgtmike

    It’s brought back memories (last deployment OIF 2003) about the wonderful way you take care of the home which allows us to do the jobs we do. The ONLY time I had to make a call back to the US was to straighten out a pharmaceutical company. My wife has Rheumatoid Arthritis and the company would not send her last months medication. Finally, I had to tell them what time it was, 2am local, where I was and that we would be notifying the local news about having to take time from my medical duties to make sure that they honored their contract to the wife of a deployed service member. Wife received her meds in 2 days. My wife handled everything else and would have handled that if those people would have listened. Thank you for doing everything you do. Civilians just do not understand the added stress, fear for your loved one and the separation anxiety. If they did, they wouldn’t be so cavalier about their attitudes.

  • Lynn Kummerfeld

    I really appreciate smsgtmike’s comment. Having lived away from a Base each time my husband deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan it is even lonelier. No support whatsoever. High School son and a daughter in college living elsewhere with her own coping problems. It amazed me at how acquaintances spoke pro military and patriotism etc but never lifted a finger to help us. And this was in the good ol South! I ran into that everywhere including my church save one couple. People do not put their words into action. It should not be only the military helping the military. So sad.