As I wrote about in Family-Friendly Competition: Seasoned MilSpouse vs. Newbie MilSpouse, I came up with ways that a seasoned spouse (myself) could help keep both the family relationship and milspouse relationship healthy. As with any relationship though, keeping the peace is a two-way street. I know you’re family and we are very supportive of each other, but after 10 years of doing this military rodeo, we’ve hardened up a bit and it’ll come out despite our best efforts to remember what it’s like to be the new kid in town.
Newbie spouses, here are 5 military life truths that seasoned spouses want you to know.
This isn’t reality TV
Now I will admit that I have not watched an episode of Army Wives or any other military wife-themed show. I live it; I don’t need to see it dramatized on TV. But I’m afraid that some newbies believe what they see on TV is every bit the truth; or are under the misconception that military life is a fairy tale. Our service member, our knight in shining armor in their dress uniform to sweep us off our feet. They do that at the wedding, then it’s back to the daily grind of training, deployments and PCSing. The military life is demanding and emotional, but it’s still your life. So put into it what you want out of it and avoid the drama. Drama never ends well for anyone.
Do something for yourself
It’s no secret that military spouses are at the mercy of the military; between frequent relocations, less-than-desirable locations and demanding work schedules it is tough to develop a career or make an impact in your community. But don’t you dare use the military as an excuse. When we hear newbie spouses say you can’t have a career because you’re going to move in 3 years, we’ll purse our lips, tilt our heads and beg you tell us how we did it but you can’t.
Being a military spouse is a lifestyle, not a job. Make that distinction and find your own path.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Semper Gumby. Learn it. Live it. Practice it. As frustrating as it may be, you have to be ready for anything. Which is nearly impossible to do, so just go with it. You’ll get word that you’ll move across country in 6 months…then the actual orders come through and your spouse has to report in no more than 2 months. You have every right to panic and vent to anyone with ears! Then take the reins and own the situation. Complaining until the day you leave won’t do you any good, or make anyone want to keep in touch with you after you leave. And trust me, you want to keep in touch with people. Networking is your strongest suit as a milspouse.
Get your facts straight
While I, as a seasoned spouse, promise to not intrude on your life and impose my opinion on everything you tell to our family, you better believe that I know BS when I hear it. Yes, information about the military is very overwhelming and confusing at first. There’s so many acronyms, base rules, insurance information, pay and benefits… it’ll have your head spinning for years. Things like Tricare will never make sense. Luckily for you, you are becoming a spouse in social media where you can find everything online (Hello Google) or join a Facebook group and ask other spouses questions.
Related: Master the Move
If you have questions, please ask me, your seasoned spouse. Unless it’s Tricare. You can ask 5 spouses a question about Tricare and get 5 different answers.
R-E-S-PECT the seasoned spouses
This isn’t about a spouse wearing their service member’s rank. This about plain ole’ good respect. As a newbie, I thought I knew it all too. I thought I knew what I was getting into. I thought I could handle it on my own.
Then a deployment happened.
I reached out to the ladies who had several years as military spouses under their belts for information and support. We have been through what you will go through. We may have some wear and tear on us and seem a little cynical, but we’ve earned that right. Please don’t treat us like we’re Sunday drivers in your way as you try to go full speed ahead wearing a blindfold. Don’t blow off what advice we offer because we are “old” and “don’t know what we’re talking about.”
Most of all, don’t ignore us. We’re a valuable asset to your networking, and are full of meaningful tips and information.
As you begin your adventure of being a new milspouse, embrace your military family and real family together to begin building your tribe. We will always be there for you. Even if you ask us about Tricare.