So your spouse is thinking of joining the military?
When I married my husband, the Army was a part of his past. He had served in the military when he was younger, and that was before my time. He had stories and photos, and that was about it. We were married as civilians and started our life together.
But the funny thing about life is you never know where you might end up. You never know where the road might take you. And even though I married my husband not thinking about being a military spouse, a few years later, that’s exactly what I became.
After being married for over three years, my husband re-joined the Army, and we became a military family. Everything seemed to change when that happened. Everything about our future, our children and future children, and how our life would play out changed.
Now, some military spouses marry their service member after they have already joined the military. Some get married right when they joined. But there are many of us who were with their service member before they decided to join.
You may be in a place where your spouse or partner is thinking about joining the military. And this is making you a bit nervous. They want to join the military but you are not totally sure. The military is a whole new world and you could be having a few reservations about the decision to join.
This is totally normal. Joining the military can lead to some major changes in your life. When your spouse signs up for the military, you might have to move far away, you might have to find a new job, and your life might feel like it has been turned upside down.
The truth is, if you are already together before the military, you both need to be a part of the decision to join. You need to have discussions about what joining will mean, and how life might have to change. Because, yes, life is going to change.
Here are a few things you can do if your spouse has decided they want to join the military or if they are starting to ask questions about the process:
Ask your questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You might have some fears or worries about what military life will be like, and it is best to seek out answers. The more you know about what you are getting into, the better.
Have some serious discussions about what your spouse has in mind when they join the military. Will this be a big career change or something they want to try for a few years? Sometimes, they might not even know but feel they need to at least try it to find out.
Remember, everyone’s military life looks different
Before my husband joined the military, I thought I had an idea of what our years as a military family would look like. But I never could have predicted the reality.
You can talk to other military spouses about their experiences to get an idea of what to expect, but keep in mind that your reality might be different. Even the amount of times your spouse will be deployed during a given amount of time can be all over the place based on what is going on in the world, your spouse’s job in the military, and where they are stationed.
You are stronger than you think
One of the biggest lessons I have learned as a military spouse of almost 16 years is that I am much stronger than I think I am. When this whole journey started, I didn’t think I could ever be a solo parent. I found the idea impossible.
But I realized quickly that what once has seemed impossible was actually possible. Is it always easy? No, solo parenting is very challenging and some days, it does feel impossible. But us military spouses get through those times. We have to.
So while you might fear that you are not capable of this, you might actually be able to get through the challenging parts of military life. We rarely feel we can conquer the mountains of military life, but we do.
Plan to make friends
If your spouse does go on to join the military, plan to make friends. You will need them. These other spouses who get how a deployment might go, or what moving every three years is really like.
As you join the military community you will be able to find mentors and other seasoned spouses who have been there. You will be able to connect with others and find your own “battle buddies.” You will make memories with these other military spouses, and they will become the best part of your military life.
Take it all day by day
In many parts of military life, you will have to take things day by day. This starts from day one when they leave for basic training.
There is so much to this life, and so many changes, that each day can be different from the next.
Try not to sweat all the small things, and look forward to the future. There are so many amazing parts to being a military spouse. Military life is truly the good mixed with the bad.
If your spouse wants to join the military, take this request seriously. Talk things over, and see if this is something you can support your spouse on.
Each family is different, and joining the military might not be the best choice for every family. But if you and your spouse decide that joining is the right choice, know you have a big community of other military spouses out there to help you through. You got this!