Monday, July 19, 2010

5 Things I have Learned in the Last 5 Years

Warning- I say "military spouse" a lot in the post. I feel that this would relate to all branches, but please realize I am only affiliated with the Air Force.

I have a lot of new military spouses ask me for advice. Tips to help them progress in their "career" as a military spouse. I have some ask me if I could go back and change anything would I. It is not easy as a military spouse. It's ok to depend on support. It's ok to get upset and frustrated with your husband's career or job. All of this is fine, but here are 5 things that I have learned in the last 5 years of being associated as a military girlfriend, fiance, and wife.

First off, before I start my top 5 best personality traits and characteristics for a military spouse to have, one needs to know that YOU as the spouse can not change a thing. Even if you wish you could, you can not. Not when it comes to military things, like deployments, TDYs, PCSing, etc. You can change the foundation of your relationship and friendships if you need to.

Here are 5 characteristics I feel are needed to make it as a military spouse:

1. Be open-minded. I find that when I am open-minded about deployments, finances, TDYs, friendships, and PCSing, the cycle seems to be easier to understand and relate to. For deployments, it is not the matter of "will my husband deploy?", it is the matter of "when will my husband deploy?" Some families get lucky and never experience a deployment. Yes, that does happen. But much more experience at least one or two within their career. Embrace it. Do not be intimidated by it. Just make sure your love, your bond, and your foundation is strong before the active duty member leaves. For TDYs, it is basically the same thing. Friendships, it is a whole other story. The Air Force has a wide range of different ethnics and background. Be open-minded to people, their beliefs, and their culture. There are many nice and friend worthy spouses that are looking for someone just like you to help encourage, support, and motivate them when they need it most. PCSing is a handful, especially when you throw pets and children in the mix. Just know it will happen, probably more often than expected at first, but try to stay calm and go with the flow. The Air Force will make sure you are settled when it is all said and done with. Some people have bad experiences and some people don't. Just protect yourself, your family, and your belongings. Leave the rest to the military.

2. When you enter into a new community and go to a new base, get involved. Go out to functions you enjoy, meet people, find spouses within your husband's job, church events, volunteering, anything. There are so many ways to get involved and meet people. My first base, I focused on working. I hardly had time for anything extra. I did meet a good handful of awesome friends. My second base, I decided I want more. I wanted the lasting friendships, so I dug for it. (Just don't dig too hard.) And guess what? I have the best of friends ever. They remembered my birthday when I did not, we spends days at the spa, we go hiking together, etc. And I try to do for them as well. It's nice to have those friendships when your spouse is away and something happens,  like you run over a nail while driving and lose a tire. Yea, that happened to me. But I had about 5 people I knew I could call and they would drop what they were doing and come for me. It's nice to have that support group.

3. Find your own happiness. For a spouse, it is hard because we are forced to somewhat live in the shadows of the active duty members. We follow them around the world, hold the home down while they are away, and sometimes are not recognized for our unselfish act. Sometimes it's hard to accept this, but once we do, we are happy and content. As long as you know deep down within yourself that this is who you are, this is what you are doing, and you are 100% happy with it, that is all that matters. You have to live life for yourself and your family, not anyone else. You can not expect everyone to thank you for the things you have done because most of the time they do not understand your sacrifice. Only do things that make you happy. Commit to the positives in life and explore your journey as yourself, as your own person.

4. Do not wear your husband's rank. This is another one that you will come across a lot of. Some will also say this as you do it, but in reality, it's them that's doing it. Whatever the case, know that you are your own person. You can be friends with whomever you chose. Be open-minded about this one, too. I have some friends that are brand new Airman. We still hang out with them. I also have friends that are or were once my husband's supervisor. That is ok. It's normal. It can happen. It will happen if you know that you are the spouse and not the active duty member. Just do not disrespect their authority.

5. Prepare. This is something that I have always done naturally because I am a "planner." But I have so many friends that wish they would have done this beforehand. Prepare for PCSing. Every military spouse knows there is a big chance they will PCS. Start saving money for it, even if it is only $5 or $10 a month. In a two course year, that's a couple of hundred dollars of emergency money when the time comes. For me, I have 3 to 4 years at a base, so that's an extra $400-$500 for me. It helps. It helps in the transitioning, and it helps when finance screws up your money! 

I hope you have enjoyed my 5 characteristics to make the military life a little easier. 

Other military spouses, would you agree or disagree with these tips?

Feel free to add your own! There are so many tips that newbies would love to have, and I know it's different for each branch. 


  1. Great advice. I've been a AF wife for a lil over 3 yrs now and I've had to learn all those things in just the last yr or so when we had to pcs away from my home where I didn't need AF friends I was happy with my family being so close. Now many many miles away with a son I found out when we got to tinker that I needed to be social. Sadly this base has been almost a High School experience with the wife on wife drama, but i've managed to keep my name out of the mixing pot.

  2. Oh and I really like the don't wear your husbands rank. i've met so many women like that. I hate it

  3. Great advice! I've had a hard time meeting wives and you just gave me some new ideas :) oh and the wearing your hubby's rank.. TERRIBLE in the Marine Corps! I've met some wives and unfortunately they've mostly been That kind of woman..

  4. I'm married to a soldier and I can say that these 5 suggestions fit well into the army spouse category as well! I think this is a great post!

  5. Your post is great advice. The ladies have their own identity, and although they are proud on their military men, it's important to realize that you are not your' husband's rank.

  6. ....and when it gets really bad: just start laughing. There is nothing left to do but that!

    Great tips!

  7. These seem like great tips for active duty spouses/significant others that live near a base. As the wife of a reservist several hours away from any real military influence, not so much.


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