When I first met my husband, I knew absolutely nothing about military life. He told me this and that about how he would be a full-time Marine once he finished college, but honestly I was so smitten that it all went right over my head.
As time moved on and our relationship flourished, I pondered the idea of my husband going away for months at a time, but it was too far into the future to be a threat. Even after we got engaged I only really focused on the fact that we’d be moving around a lot, an idea that thrilled me after living in northeast Ohio my entire life.
Now, nearly eleven years as a military wife, I realize how naive I had been. I look back and wish there had been something to clue me into the challenges of military life, a few warning labels, so-to-speak, that would have better prepared me for the crazy ride on which this life has taken me.
Here are 5 Warning Labels That Should Come With Military Life. These would have helped me as I began my journey as a military spouse:
- Nothing is certain! I do not particularly like change unless I have time to plan for it. But in military life, plans can get squashed at a moment’s notice. We can try to plan family days on the weekend, but in a 24/7 job if he gets called in, he has to go. We try to plan where he will go for his next duty station, but really the military can place us anywhere. We expect to know well ahead of time of an impending deployment, but in reality three weeks will have to do. Essentially, always use a pencil when making plans.
- It feels like single-parenting! Though not the same as actually being a single parent, there are many times I have felt like I was raising the kids on my own. Phone calls and Skype only go so far in the realm of parenting and basically there was nothing my husband could do to help me with the kids while he was away. Aside from the lack of help, I also often felt a loss when we would hang out with friends because I would be the only one without my husband with me. Holidays and special days were especially hard. I never fully got used to feeling like an incomplete family, but an advanced warning would surely have better prepared me to accept it.
- Making friends isn’t always easy! Each time we move, I tend to hide for a while. I am somewhat shy around new people and making friends, ones I truly connect with, can take a while. Plus, it always seems that once I finally do connect with someone and we become great friends, one of us has to move (even non-military friends!). It may not be easy to make friends and it sometimes feels like a lot of work, but they are so important for surviving military life. They will be there to help you get through the tough days, let you vent your frustrations, watch your kids when no one else can, and let you be yourself without judgement.
- Stay out of the drama! There have been many instances of drama among other spouses since I became a military wife and I have learned that the best thing to do is just stay out of it. Many experienced wives will say that getting involved in spouse groups is one of the best ways to get through a deployment. But if a group tends to be more dramatic than dynamic, you might end up feeling worse. Plus, if you get involved in the drama, you could end up digging yourself into a hole. Should you ever find yourself getting sucked into rumors, gossip, or other spouses’ hate issues, kindly excuse yourself and walk away.
- You will experience emotions you never knew you had! The roller coaster of emotions that comes with military life is, I am convinced, more than anyone should ever have to experience. The sometimes drastic circumstances have caused me to, at times, be angry, bitter, ungrateful, envious, and selfish. On the other hand, I have gained more strength, perseverance, resiliency, and faith than I ever would have had I not become a military wife. And despite the challenges, deep down I am grateful for what this life has taught me. Don’t let negativity consume you, but try to see the bright side in any challenging situation and focus on what you can learn from it.
What are some warning labels you would place on military life? Let us know in the comments!