One of the many differences between the civilian lifestyle and the military lifestyle is that things will change from one minute to the next and we, the families, have to take things as they are without trying to “fix them”. Whether it is from your spouse getting orders to report to Japan unaccompanied for two years to “Hey hun, I know we just got here and your pregnant but I’m deploying in a month!”; to just getting to your new duty station and finding out that you’re moving again in a week. Military changes all the time and as military spouses we have learned to put on our “not-so-happy” smile and deal with it whether we like it or not.
Personally, I hear a lot of my civilian friends complaining about moving or small unexpected changes happening to their lives and it gets me thinking as to how lucky they are with how simple their life is. Then again, I don’t envy them at all. Who said military life couldn’t be simple? If you can find your way in this lifestyle, you can make it as simple and ordinarily as possible. Yes, there are unfortunate circumstances but they only make us stronger in the long run.
Here are some pointers on how to cope with the unexpected changes from the military:
You have to look at it this way, the military will always change its mind. In reaction, that makes you freak out. Well, what if you didn’t freak out every time there was a new change? What if you channeled that into a new experience and try to just “go with the flow”? Being patient is crucial in making it through the military lifestyle without pulling your hair out.
Example: When my husband and I got engaged and began planning our wedding, the Marine Corps decided to surprise us and tell my husband he had to report to so and so four months prior to our wedding date. Therefore we could not get married when we wanted. Due to my immigration status at the time I couldn’t go to the US and get married; there are legal steps that need to be followed before a foreigner can marry a US citizen. Needless to say, my husband somehow was able to fix things. We ended up getting married a month prior to our actual day.
Last thing anyone wants to hear, when they get the “not-so-happy-news”, is the positive aspect of the news. That’s normal. Sulk about it for a few hours or a day. But leave it at that. That moodiness and all the negative aspects will affect your spouse, your children…even your pets. After that moment of sulking start looking at the bright side of things, because that will make the unexpected news a little better.
Example: Both my husband and I came with the mindset that we were only going to be in our current duty station for a year. Wrong! My husband got orders to stay and all I wanted to do was scream. The positive part of that whole experience was that I didn’t have to move a house that I had just barely moved into. It was a small positive aspect, but at least it was better than nothing.
Understanding is a word that is hard to use in the military. Unfortunately, it’s not that the military is not understanding, it’s that they have a job to do and it has to go according to schedule/plan. When your spouse signed up to be a Marine, Sailor, Soldier, Guardsmen, Airmen, etc. he/she knew what they were getting into. You, the spouse…not so much. To work alongside the military, to be patient and to be positive you have to understand the military itself. Whether it’s from reading how the Chain of Command works to how your Spouse can deploy in an instant because of job; understand the military before you get your panties in a bunch.
Example: I read as much as any person could about the military, the Marine Corps and being married to a Marine. But, nothing could prepare me for reality. My husband can only tell me things he knows, if it is dependent related…forget about it! So I asked questions. I asked questions so that I could understand what was going on in my new lifestyle.
With patience, a positive attitude and understanding, you can find your way in this lifestyle. That way you can make it as simple and ordinarily as possible.