On November 8th, 2005, my husband re-enlisted in the US Army. This was a huge change for us and our family. My husband had been in the Army when he was a lot younger, years before I met him. He had gotten out, returned home and we met a few years after that. We got married and had our first child and it wasn’t until we had been married about 3 years that we started talking about him going back into the Army.
11 years have passed since that day and I now consider myself a seasoned spouse. We have been overseas, been through 4 deployments, multiple trainings and have experienced both Active duty and National Guard life. Over the last 11 years, I have learned so much about military life. I didn’t realize how clueless I was until he joined and learned about these truths the hard way. I assumed some things I shouldn’t have. I have grown as a person since then and the last 11 years have made me who I am.
Here are 10 Truths Military Spouses Learn About Military Life
1. Just Because You Are Told Something, It Doesn’t Mean It Will Happen That Way- There have been so many times in the last 11 years when military plans have changed. From deployments to trainings to appointments. Military life is all about change. Nothing is ever set in stone and it is probably best to assume nothing is going to happen a certain way until it actually does.
2. Military Life Isn’t Fair- It wasn’t that I thought everything in military life was going to be fair, but it is a hard reality to realize much of this life isn’t fair or equal at all. Your spouse might deploy a lot more than other spouses. You might not ever end up at the “best” duty stations and it will seem others do. Some service members take longer to promote than others. The best thing to do is celebrate when you are the one to get the good news and be humble when you see that your friend or neighbor has not.
3. Not All Military Housing Is Created Equal- When we moved into our orange duplex at our 2nd duty station in Germany, I cried. That house was amazing! And to think we got the house just because we moved to a new duty station, not because of rank or position. That the two homes could be so different was amazing to me. Some housing is much better than others and that can be a frustrating reality of military life.
4. Making Friends Isn’t Always Easy- As much as you want to find your tribe and your people, sometimes that will take longer than you want it to. Making friends depending on a lot of factors. From putting yourself out there to who is at your duty station. Don’t lose hope if you haven’t made friends at your new duty station yet, it might just take you a bit longer this time.
5. You Will Grow Without Your Spouse- During military life you and your spouse will grow. You will change. Everyone does. Sometimes this will happen when they are not home. During a year deployment, you can grow and change and because you have, life can be a bit of a challenge once your spouse gets home. Keep this in mind during the redeployment period and remember why you decided to be together in the first place.
6. Your Parenting Will Look A Little Different- Survival mode is very real and sometimes being in survival mode means you let things go and your parenting will change because of that. Try not to let this get you down, real life sometimes doesn’t mix with our ideals. Do your best and at the end of the day, give yourself some grace.
7. You Will Surprise Yourself- During the last 11 years, I have done things I never thought I was capable of. I have been stretched and have become stronger because of everything I have been through. Military life will mold you into the person you are meant to be. And you will look back and might be surprised about everything you have had to go through to get there.
8. When Military Life Is Over, You Might Not Want To Leave- As much as you think you are ready to leave military life behind, doing so isn’t as easy as you think the transition will be. You might find yourself missing parts of military life and wondering why you and your spouse decided that chapter needed to be closed. You might get upset that your spouse had to leave because of medical issues. Give yourself time to adjust to the after military lifestyle.
9. The “Worst” Duty Station Might Be Your Favorite- There are a few duty stations out there that are talked about as the worst. Places you really don’t want to go and for a lot of them, there is a good reason for that. But sometimes, the “worst” duty station may be your favorite place. Maybe you have figured out how to bloom where you are planted or maybe you just made some amazing friends, but whatever reason you will always look back at that duty station as some of the best years of your military life.
10. Just When You Are Comfortable, Life Will Change- I was sitting at a friend’s house with about four or five friends. The kids were all playing nicely and we were having a good conversation. In the back of my head, I thought, “This won’t last forever.” And that was true. Within 3 years, everyone in that room has moved somewhere else. This is the reality of military life. People are always moving, either you or them. Commands change, deployments come and go. Just when you get comfortable, things change.