As rewarding as his career choice can be, there are negatives to every positive. It can be an experience that pulls on your heart and makes you question if you were built for the lifestyle. Although, I was once in the military myself – being on the supporting side of this life has made me question my friendships, goals, and even my career interests.
Don’t get me wrong: Being married to a military servicemember has its perks:
- You get to travel and move your family to places you would have never thought to relocate to.
- Your spouse has a career that invites random people to stop him just to thank him for his service (and sometimes they do it to you too).
- And of course, the health benefits and housing allowance is a plus as well.
But no one tells you about the other side of being a military wife. There’s something about moving miles away from what you called home to create your new normal that can be terrifying! I saw this hilarious post on Facebook via How to Milspouse and it prompted me to write about what I wanted to know as a new military wife.
Here are five things that no one told me (but I wish they did) about being a military wife.
As soon as you learn to love it, they’ll replace it.
Every time we get settled in and finally fall in love with his duty station, it’s time to PCS. AGAIN! And then we’re back to finding a new home, new friends, new schools, and new routines.
It. Never. Fails.
The beauty of it all is, we get to see new places and make friends all over the world. Sure, I’ll have a few damaged pieces of furniture after the move and we’ll end up with new license plates to match the new state… but we’ll have our family together. We will have crossed another state off the list or added another stamp to the kids’ passport books. My advice: always approach a new location with a positive outlook because it’s what YOU make of it that counts. It really is an adventure.
It can get lonely.
Before you move to a new location, look for a job and then research the area to find places of interest to explore & hang out. It’s easy to start feeling alone and like a prisoner when our spouses are gone.
Also, don’t feel guilty about wanting local friends. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting someone other than your husband to hang out with and binge watch Netflix, or even just to do playdates with the kids. Find something to keep you happily busy and then find someone to chill with. Having healthy friendships and a good support system is important.
So, if you are lucky enough to find your tribe of friends that stick with you no matter where you PCS to; hold on to them! If you haven’t been able to find any genuine friends yet, find a military spouse group that’s local to your area and engage! Most importantly: Get. Out. Of. The. House. Meet people and keep yourself busy.
Finding friends is tough, but finding a new job is the real test.
When you move every 2-3 years, your resume can start to look sporadic. Trying to level up in your career field becomes difficult because you don’t get enough experience at one job before it’s time to move again.
There are lots of military-friendly employers who take pride in helping military veterans and military families be gainfully employed. Then some employers secretly discriminate against and refuse to hire military spouses. They’ll say, “Thank you for your service,” until it comes time to hire a spouse. “Well, you have everything. You’re well off and you have benefits. Why do you need to work? You’ll be moving soon anyway, right?” Many wives, myself included, have encountered this.
In those situations, I have to stress the importance of using the benefits you have as an advantage. Benefits like using the MyCAA program, volunteering with the community service centers on base and keeping your resume updated will help you apply for remote jobs and careers that are portable.
Everyone will think you’re rich.
For some strange reason, people assume that military families are wealthy.
People will purposely prey on military members and their families because they see their income as a guaranteed paycheck. They’ll ask “What’s his rank?” not just for conversation but to see how much they can get out of you. I’m speaking in regards to businesses, of course, but the same can apply to friends and family. People will either think you act like you’re better than them or they’ll ask to borrow money.
There are benefits that military members have that many civilians don’t. But having a large family and being a military spouse can have its ups and downs. So, you might be wondering where is all of this “rich” money that people think we have. If you don’t learn to budget your family’s income and take advantage of the benefits given as a military family, you’ll have a hard time – period. Resources like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Military Edition may help families who need it.
And last but not least…
Don’t forget to date & communicate with each other often.
There’s an abbreviation for almost every part of my husband’s job and to me, everything is like “the camo one or the green one?” I am prior Air Force and my husband is in the Army. They are not the same. And I often feel like I don’t understand the Army. But just because you can’t relate to what your spouse is going through doesn’t mean that you can’t support him/her. Sometimes they’ll want to talk, other times they’ll want to talk about anything but the military. Always communicate with each other. Spend as much time together as you can. Before you know it, it’s time to tackle the next deployment or mission-essential training.
Find a show to watch together that you both can watch whether he’s home or away, and then talk about that. Play board games or card games together, and talk about who is the better player. Go on playful dates as much as romantic dates. Make regular days feel like special occasions because you’ll start to notice that anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc are just another day in the eyes of their superiors. So, make traditions together.
Falling into the routine conversations of, “Did you pay for this and that? What’s for dinner? Are the kids okay?” can become mundane. Have conversations about your goals, his goals after the military, and your future together. You both go through so much, so be sure to establish a strong foundation in your relationship by keeping the communication open.
Whether you were married before your spouse joined the military or you joined forces later in their military career, it can be a struggle to adapt at any phase. Honestly, despite all of these things that I wish I would have known; being a military spouse has been great for me. I have grown so much as a person over the years and been able to experience some amazing things I would never have.