When I met my husband, I didn’t know any military spouses. Not counting my immediate family, I didn’t have anybody else on my side…yet.
The thought of moving to a new place and making new friends was scary. It brought me back to the first days at a new school. At 27 years old, you don’t think that you’ll get butterflies in your stomach again! But, you sure do.
I was lucky to start some friendships with military spouses as a girlfriend to my now-husband. After PCSing for the first time as a married couple, I spent some time nurturing those friendships and also growing new ones with those at my current duty station.
Throughout the years, I’ve noticed a code between military spouses – a set of rules – if you will, that keep us all in harmony.
Here are the 20 unwritten rules of military spouse friendship:
- Don’t judge. Leave your judgments at the door. Make sure you get to know a person before you write them off completely. You never really know a person until you have a steady conversation with them.
- Give everyone a chance. First impressions are key, but sometimes a bad day can turn into a bad week and so on. Before deciding to unfriend somebody, take the time to hear their story. You might realize they aren’t so different after all.
- Form an alliance. We are our biggest allies and together we can move mountains. Helping each other with a handful of things here and there can add up to make a huge difference. You can really make a friend’s day by adding a small task to your day.
- Remember, we’re all in this together. Go into each military spouse friendship with that mindset. Despite our different backgrounds and interests, we all have one thing in common: We love a service member! What does that say about us besides we’re awesome? We may experience certain challenges our civilian counterparts might not understand, so use that to create and nurture friendships.
- Be present. Who doesn’t hate deployments?! That’s just one particular instance that we need to be there for one another. Show up to their house with a bottle of wine or invite a friend to a movie.
- Our spouse’s jobs shouldn’t matter. Don’t limit your friendships, just because of what rank your spouse holds. You might find a wonderful friend in anybody in the military community no matter what your or their spouse does.
- It’s OK to complain. It’s perfectly OK to complain, just like eating cupcakes, in moderation. Sometimes we need to vent and who better to vent to than our best milspouse battle buddy.
- Be understanding. Military spouses know a thing or two about understanding! The military is notorious for changing things at a moment’s notice, so we have to practice our patience a whole lot. Don’t let your understanding end with your spouse.
- Don’t deal the one-up card. It’s easy to dismiss someone’s complaint by another complaint, but it’s never good to do so at somebody’s expense. Instead of trumping a complaint, turn it into a understanding comment. That brings me back to “we’re all in this together!”
- Befriend a newbie. You never know how your friendship can influence a new spouse.
- Volunteer together. Volunteering can offer a sense of fulfillment in your community. With friends, it’s a great way to continue forging strong connections to contribute to a similar cause.
- Know your neighbors. You never know who’s right around the corner!
- Go out of your comfort zone. Opposites attract. Someone you might not think meshes well with you might actually complement you. This can help with opening up your circle to find other amazing people.
- Compromise. Just like with any other close relationship, it’s important to compromise when you reach a road block. Compromising will help with bringing a resolution to any issues your way and keep you and your friend in check.
- Stick up for one another. I mentioned we are our biggest allies, so we should also back each other up when military life gets tough.
- Stay friends, even after a PCS. We are lucky to have social media to keep us connected. Take it one step further and maintain a letter writing relationship or schedule visits to each other’s new duty station.
- Be honest. I like to have everything out on the table because having to guess or hide your feelings just adds frustration. Be honest with your feelings, but remember # 8 and #14.
- Keep it real. Don’t forget to keep a level head. Believe me, the military lifestyle nearly pushes me off the edge. Remember the bigger picture and to not stress the little things.
- Ask for advice. I think asking for help is a pretty big deal. Some people find it embarrassing. It’s actually great motivation for others to offer advice because it boosts their self confidence. Helping others and giving advice both make people feel good!
- Encourage each other. Life can bring a lot of decisions our way, which is overwhelming at times. When you sense a struggle to a plea for a pat on the back, don’t hesitate to offer that support!