One of my largest inspirations for this blog is to share my experiences as a new military spouse, so I can help those who come into this life behind me. As I approach the beginning of my third year as an Army wife, I thought I should share the many things I have learned along the way as I leave behind my title of rookie military spouse.
There is definitely a learning curve when you marry a service member. From the acronyms to the spoken and unspoken rules, you learn many things in your first few years as you acclimate into this life. Below are the top ten lessons I have learned during my first two years as a military spouse.
#10: Learn consistently
There are multitudes of learning opportunities for military spouses. Do not let these chances pass you by. Learn as much as you can, all of the time. I remember watching Army Wives before I became one, hoping I could learn a few things about this life from TV. That’s just it though, that was TV and not real life. Each base has programs that allow military spouses to learn about this life and many other skills for success. There are also many scholarships to help military spouses earn licensure, certificates, and degrees. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and learn something new.
#9: The Importance of OPSEC
OPSEC is Operational security. Whatever you do, protect the safety of your spouse, your family, and the military community. NEVER discuss movement on social media, times, or dates when a unit is leaving or returning home.
#8: Seek support
There are numerous organizations that exist solely to help military families. Do not be afraid to reach out to them, volunteer, or attend one of their events. To learn more about military friendly nonprofit organizations, check out my recommendations on 8 Nonprofit Organizations that Military Spouses Should Know Well.
#7: Finding friends takes time
It has been really hard to find friends in this life. It’s especially difficult if you are a working milspouse, so be patient. Be default, military spouses are busy handling life, so it may take a few tries to meet up with a new potential friend. For a list of ideas about finding friends, read Finding Friends in a Military World.
#6: Network, network, network
Networking is a super important skill that is a necessity in the military community. This is an amazing world of people who help one another. When you network with others, whether in your industry or not, it could open doors for you. In addition, you could be the one opening doors for another military spouse someday too. Many military spouses have to reinvent their careers, networking can help you as you transform your career into something more suitable to this lifestyle.
#5: How to be a good problem solver
Have you ever heard of Murphy’s Law? In case you haven’t already experienced it, you eventually will. Basically, if something is going to break, it will as soon as your husband leaves. It is essential to learn how to manage when everything that could go wrong does and you are all alone. These times will force you to become a good problem solver, build a support network, and teach you how to stand on your own two feet.
#4: Be Mindful when planning a vacation too far in advance
If you are a huge planner, like me, this one is especially tough. As a military spouse, you have to adapt to becoming a last-minute vacation planning type of person. Even then, duty still calls and plans may have to change once again. Just breathe, develop flexibility, and be understanding to your spouse as it isn’t his or her fault when this happens.
#3: You cannot make it through this life without faith
Being a military spouse isn’t easy, but it’s especially hard if your faith is shaky. Having a strong faith can help you through the times that bring you to your knees. God’s comfort will help you through the difficult moments and he will take your worries and turn them into peace. Just have faith, pray often, and believe.
#2: Cherish the time you have with your spouse
Make moments special with your spouse frequently. You don’t know what orders may come tomorrow. Choose to spend time in laughter instead of arguing about the little things. Don’t take a single moment for granted with your spouse and always show that you care through little random things.
#1: You are stronger than you think
When I first became a military spouse, I never imagined how difficult this life could be. I always thought I was pretty independent and would do well in this life, since I had my career and a house of my own when I met my husband. The transition of leaving my home, career, and friends behind was not easy, but somehow I have made it through. When I look back at the feats my husband and I have made it through in only two years of marriage, I realize that I need to give myself a little more credit for developing strength and perseverance. You too should pat yourself on the back because you can do this. You are so much stronger than you even realize.
© Wendi and Strength 4 Spouses, 2017.