It’s been a while since I have reflected upon military life in retrospect of being married to a service member. This life has taught me a lot. In fact, the last time I reflected upon what I was learning as a spouse, I was approaching my third year in marriage. Now, my spouse and I are going into our sixth year of being married and I have so much more to add to my original post of Ten Things I Have Learned in My First Two Years as a Military Spouse.
Now, my spouse and I have been through several near deployments, more TDY’s than I can count on both hands, a cross country PCS, infertility, childbirth, and parenthood.
Below is my updated list of what this life has taught me over the last five years as a military wife.
1-Finding Support and Community is Essential: It is very difficult to handle military life alone. That is why many nonprofits and organizations exist to give support to military spouses and families. Do not be afraid to seek help when you need it. For a list of organizations that go above and beyond to help military spouses, click here. For an extensive list of local and national support for military spouses, click here.
2-Never Underestimate the Power of Advocacy: If there’s something military spouses are powerful at, it is advocacy for issues affecting the military community. All it takes is one voice to advocate for positive changes, so if you see something that needs to be addressed, speak up. A great example of this is Megan Harless and her outstanding efforts to improve and reform PCS issues.
3-Embrace Flexibility and Plans Changing: Military life is definitely difficult for us type “A’s,” because there usually isn’t any type of set schedule. Therefore, it makes planning anything near impossible. I have had to learn over the years to relax and lean into flexibility, which is not something that has been an easy feat.
4-Lend a Helping Hand: If you see a military spouse struggling, lend a helping hand. If your community or an organization needs help, step up and volunteer. There is no greater way to give back than to help your direct community. Being the good in an unkind world can truly make a difference. Be that.
5-Be Kind and Encouraging: We have all been new to this life. We have all been through periods of feeling isolated and alone. Offer an encouraging word to another military spouse who might be new to this life, new to your duty station, or going through a difficult time. One encouraging word and act can start a ripple effect. If you find that hard to believe, check out the impact the Inspire Up and #GivingTuesdayMilitary has created. There IS power in kindness.
6-The Stress of Military Life Affects Your Marriage: Military marriages go through some extreme challenges. Deployments, TDY’s, long work hours, PCSing, pregnancy loss, infertility, and parenthood are all major life transitions. These can all have impacts on your marriage. When the challenges become too much, there are ways to seek help through the unit chaplain, marriage retreats, couples counseling, and more. All of these resources are available at little to no cost for military couples. Twenty Twenty has no doubt been one of the hardest years for many military marriages because of the added stress of the pandemic. This has prompted military spouse, Bree Carroll to spearhead Military Marriage Day, webinars, conferences, and coaching to help strengthen military marriages.
7-Sense of Identity and Self is Truly Important: It is easy to lose your identity and sense of self in this life because everything revolves around the service member. That’s why it is so important to develop your own interests, goals, and identity apart from the service member. Seeking support through community groups, volunteering, going back to school, and finding meaningful employment are all ways to further develop your sense of self. After all, we do spend a great amount of time alone in this life, so having our own identity is imperative.
8-Be Resourceful: Because we spend a great deal of time alone in military life, it is important to be resourceful. This goes a little further than just looking something up on Google. Being resourceful means seeking out the resources your family needs, not being afraid to make calls and ask questions, and following through. You are your own advocate and your family’s advocate.
9-The Power of Prayer: There is no doubt that this life can sometimes bring you to your knees. That is why faith and prayer are key. I have watched God bring miracles to my family, to other military families, and answer prayers in many ways. Prayer takes the heavy loads we carry in this life and releases them to our almighty and powerful God. Do not be afraid to talk with God daily. He is there for you and will help you carry the loads that feel so heavy.
10-A Good Sweat Session Builds Resiliency: While fitness has looked different for many of us in 2020, there is still power in exercise. A good sweat session helps you manage stress, releases good endorphins, and gives you the confidence needed to persevere through the ups and downs of military life. Exercise can help you remain mentally and physically strong too.
Military life is not easy, but it can mold and shape you into a stronger and more resilient person. Many of us did not choose this life, we first and foremost chose love. You cannot ever be prepared for the military lifestyle, until you are living and going through it yourself. You are never alone in what you are going through in this life, so seek out the organizations and resources that will offer the comfort you might need to rise above the challenging times. Then, offer a helping hand to the next person through support, advocacy, kindness, encouragement, and volunteerism.
© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2020.