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MilSpouse Burnout: When Life Leaves You Weary

Burnout is defined as emotional exhaustion from long-term mental stress. Some definitions relate it specifically to occupational stress and diminished interest in work, but “work” in reality can be anything that is continuously expected to be done on a daily basis.

I remember feeling burned out towards the end of my semester in college, but as soon as the semester ended I felt much better. The jobs I have held since then never caused me to feel burned out, maybe because I only worked part time or maybe because I liked what I was doing so much. But one role in particular, a role greater than any job I’ve ever held and more important to my family than any paycheck, has brought me to exhaustion. There has been long-term mental stress, there is diminished interest in work, and “work” in this case is being a military spouse. And unlike my semesters in college, this role won’t be coming to an end any time soon.

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Before I go on, I will say that I do recognize all the good that comes from living the military lifestyle; I appreciate the benefits of reduced cost health care, basic housing allowance, on-base amenities such as the Exchange, Commissary, and paid leave. Plus, even though money can never take the place of my husband’s presence, the tax-free pay during deployments and per-Diem during trips does help.

Furthermore, I realize how much this lifestyle has strengthened me and enabled me to do things I never even considered doing before I married a service member. I have learned what it means to be resilient and to persevere, two things I cherish on my path of personal growth.

MilSpouse Burnout: When Life Leaves You Weary

But over they years, the pressure has worn me down.

I’m tired of single parenting.

I’m tired of managing everything when my husband is away.

I’m tired of not having enough time alone with my husband to just work on our relationship.

I’m tired of not having any family nearby to help with the kids and only seeing family a few times a year.

I’m tired of trying to figure out where we’ll move next and having to start over in a new place.

I am tired of job hunting, tired of worrying about how politics will affect the military, tired of mean people bashing the military or military spouses on social media, and tired of trying to be positive through it all.

Most of all, I’m tired of wondering when I will stop feeling tired.

Is this just a phase that will pass? Am I merely burned out because of my husband’s current job or the particular ages of my kids, or the place we currently live? Will I feel better once we move again or my kids get a little older? Or is this burnout destined to last until my husband retires, which isn’t for another 8-10 years?

I know deep down I am still a positive person. I know I’m just so physically and emotionally overwhelmed right now I’m having a hard time breaking through the negative thoughts. But I also know I’m not the only military spouse who feels this way. Several of my milspouse friends have shared similar feelings. Some say their marriages have suffered; some say their relationships with their kids have suffered; some say they don’t get enough time for themselves to relax and recoup. One spouse I know wonders how she will possibly find motivation over the next two years before her husband’s retirement without being completely miserable.

I imagine that even the most optimistic, highly motivated military spouse feels at least a little pressure and grief from what this lifestyle brings.

How do we break free from this burnout? How do we find the motivation to keep going in a way that doesn’t wear us down? How do we make ourselves more tolerant to the ebbs and flows of military life so that we can better enjoy it?

Please share your ideas! Let’s help each other out and see how many different ways we can overcome burnout. Share what’s worked for you or for someone you know. Please be courteous when posting; encouraging words only.

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