You just married your favorite military serviceman (or woman). Wow, amazing! You are on cloud nine! You tell yourself it will be hard, but you can survive and keep going and they can throw whatever they want at you but it won’t stop you!
Yeah, I thought that once too. And then I experienced my first year as a military spouse (MilSpouse) basically by myself.
People will tell you a lot of things about being married to someone in the military. They have their advice, opinions or encouragements. And maybe you were apart of the military lifestyle before you got married and are aware of all the ups and downs that it has.
But, I was not and knew basically nothing. So, here are 10 things I learned throughout the first year. I wish someone would have sat me down and told me what it was going to really be like, so I hope this helps! And don’t worry, it’ll get much harder in the coming years, but you’ll be really good at it by then!
1. You didn’t marry him/her. You married the Military.
Understand this. Your time together is limited no matter what MOS they have. Their time is basically not their’s and is controlled solely by the Military. Most times you come 2nd, or even 3rd, and just know that that’s normal and okay.
2. Learn how to pay for all the bills.
Yep, maybe you know how to do this, but I didn’t when we first started out. Don’t get mad at your spouse when rent is due and then it’s late because they weren’t home to pay it. Make sure you can log in to all of the utilities and accounts to pay things on time.
3. Learn the beauty of the “I don’t know” Answer.
This is the answer to almost everything. What time will you be home? I don’t know. When will you deploy? I don’t know. When will we move next? I don’t know. WHERE will we move next? I don’t know. Will you be able to put in leave for this? I don’t know. Will they tell you the details of anything? I don’t know. Will you be home for a baby coming?! I don’t know.
4. Be okay with being alone.. a lot.
I was aware of the fact that Brendan would be gone a lot, but.. not THAT much. And I haven’t even experienced a deployment yet! This is a good time to pick up a hobby, or four. Because Lord knows you will have time for four hobbies.
5. Make good friends, be a good Friend.
One thing that everyone told me about the military community was how great the families and spouses are. Well, there were RIGHT. I have met some of the GREATEST people as a MilSpouse.
Sometimes it will be hard to reach out and make new friends or it might be intimidating. But, as nerve-racking as it can be, just go out there and DO IT! You won’t regret it!
6. Go with the flow of the unknown.
This goes with tip #3. You never really know what’s going on in their world and things can change at the drop of a hat. Plans will be set and then BAM they change. Whether something is set in stone or not, trust me, they’ll change.
After a while you start to thrive on the change. I somehow am enjoying it!
7. Don’t be Selfish (all the time).
I know this sounds a little harsh but… It’s true. I was smacked in the face with the lifestyle when we moved for the first time to Virginia. I was basically bawling in the car when Brendan “politely” told me that I had to get used to the lifestyle or things would be horrible for the rest of our lives.
Why was I crying? Because he had been gone 90% of the time since he had checked in. I was hating it. I seriously didn’t realize that “They are gone a lot” meant he leaves at 4am and gets home at 9pm every day. Or leaves Sunday night and doesn’t show up until Friday evening. Wow, I don’t miss those days.
So, this is me saying “Buck up” because that is exactly what I had to do, and you will too.
8. Be a supportive ear to listen first.
They will gripe a lot, complain, be concerned and frustrated. Be the first to listen and be caring. Not that they hate their job or anything, but it can be a stressful and tiresome lifestyle.
9. Don’t Compare your marriage to others.
Because we have wonderful social media, it is really easy to see what other couples are posting on the weekend. I never admitted it but I think I was a little jealous in the beginning, I was seeing other couples going out and having fun on the weekends. And I was still at home doing nothing.
Friends, don’t fall into this trap. Every relationship is unique and different. And you being at home with your spouse is nothing to compare to some couple at a concert or restaurant.
10. Become friends with the guys and girls in their squadron/unit.
As much as you guys basically lead completely different lives, your spouse is thinking of you during the day, I promise. They talk to their peers about you and those people want to meet you. And surprisingly, they care about you too. You are supporting them in a way too!
This was something that surprised me SO MUCH. Brendan’s friends are becoming my friends and I love it. They really are like a 2nd family. I have been so surprised at how sweet and genuine they are towards me and show interest in what I do. If you are one of those people reading this, thank you!
There are many more things I could tell you about being a MilSpouse. But I will stop at 10.
I hope that these tips help! And if they did send them on over to a military spouse that you know and love!
Let me know what things helped you survive the first few years of being a MilSpouse!
Thanks for reading,
~Erin, The Short Wife.
1 Peter 3:8 NIV “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”