by Wendi, Guest Contributor
Since I was a little girl I have had a dream of meeting my prince. In my mid-30s, my prince finally came, but little did I know that our happy ending would take a lot of struggle, work, tears and patience.
The Struggle to Be Together
Like most military spouses, my husband and I got married, and we weren’t able to be under one roof right away.
I had my own career plus a home we needed to put on the market first. This also just so happened to be a year full of training for him, mostly out of state.
It was hard being his wife and not being by his side.
I silently suffered for months, to the point that a day without tears, was few and far between. I felt so alone in what I was going through, and longed for a friend who would understand this married-but-not-together lifestyle I was living. Being that I was hours away from my husband and post, meeting other military spouses was quite difficult.
I decided to take advantage of free counseling to get all the tears out, so I could move on and get that happy ending I so rightly deserved. Counseling gave me a non-biased sounding board of which I could put things into perspective, and hopefully move past this bump in the road.
My husband and I sat down and worked out a plan to get my house ready to sell, and a moving plan for me in-between his field time and trainings. Our family and friends were such great support in helping with renovations and moving. We sold my home ourselves in less than 2 weeks. We moved as much as we could before my husband left for training again. I closed on the home, and my family helped me move my last few loads.
The only thing missing now was my husband.
We’re Under One Roof, Now What?
I moved in our on-post housing, and was finally under one roof with my husband. It would be a few more weeks before he would return from a month long training. It felt like months had passed because so much had happened and changed since he left. I feverishly began unpacking and getting our house in order, and I met a new friend.
My next door neighbor and I clicked right away. She was the first military spouse friend I had met and she was just what I needed.
Little by little, things were starting to fit into place, and I was getting myself into a routine with my job, home and new surroundings. My commute to work went from 25 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, and I changed my shift from first shift to second to avoid driving through rush-hour traffic there and back each day.
Then, the struggles returned.
Each time I would drive home, road construction would re-route my path and I would get lost at O-dark thirty at night in a new area that I wasn’t familiar with. This happened over and over again, giving me major anxiety and stress. I did my best to adjust my route each time.
This is when I began to feel what I never wanted to feel for my husband; resentment.
It’s an ugly thing. I had given up so much to move my life there with him, and it was not peaches and cream like I expected.
Even the home we rented began to have troubles. It felt as if this whole new life was rejecting me somehow. Everywhere I turned seemed to be filled with complications. The only time I was happy was when I was with my husband. I knew he couldn’t be my only happiness because “what will I do when he deploys someday,” I would ask myself.
I have to learn to cope, adjust, be flexible and find the support needed to get through and make it as a military wife. Every time I questioned uprooting my life to one now filled with extreme complications, I closed my eyes and remembered the vows I wrote to my husband. I remembered my prince, the man I had always wished for, and the contentment my heart always felt every time he was near.
This is when I knew, that I had to get stronger in the tough times. I had to fight for that happily ever after, and it was something I wouldn’t be able to do alone.
Below are several ways to find your inner strength, so that you can acclimate to this military lifestyle successfully.
How to Cope with a Not-So-Perfect Transition into Military Life
It’s easier said than done. Don’t be afraid to meet your neighbor, join groups on social media, and put yourself out there to try to find new friends. Lean on your friends outside of the military life too. While they may not know exactly what you’re going through, they can lend a familiar shoulder or listening ear to help you through.
Rely on Your Faith
This is something I wish I had done more of. Whatever your faith, rely on it through the good and the bad. I promise it will make the tough times less painful.
Go to the gym on or off post, join a new fitness group, or check out group classes. Not only does exercise make you feel better and burn calories, but it is also a great way to meet like-minded friends. Some of my most dear friends outside of the military world were met while doing Zumba.
Communicate with Your Spouse
Nothing ruins a marriage quicker than lack of communication. Be honest with your spouse, and let them know how you are feeling. Much of the difficulty with acclimating to this lifestyle is partly understanding it fully, and sometimes your spouse may have resources that you are not aware of.
Your spouse cannot read your mind, but if you communicate, he or she may be able to offer some suggestions or support to help you too.
Realize that Bumps in the Road Will Only Make You Stronger
Being the spouse of a service member is not an easy job. It takes a very strong person to do what we do. With each struggle, comes strength. Struggles can also give you knowledge that you can share with others to hopefully help them in similar situations.
Make the Best of Every Situation
Have you ever heard the quote “Bloom where you’re planted?” It means to try and shine your light no matter where you are in life, to find the best out of the situation, and enjoy the moment. This can be extremely difficult when it feels like everything around you is going wrong, except for your relationship with your spouse.
Never let the bumps in the road ruin a good thing. You married each other for a reason, which I hope was for love. So treat each moment as if it were the last, because as you know field time, trainings, and deployments are usually right around the corner.
It is OK to need help. I’m not afraid to admit that I looked for a counselor after my first 5 months of being married. When I couldn’t stop crying so easily, I knew something needed to happen. It made me stronger, just by talking to someone.
You can seek counseling in several ways; through the EAP with your employer, through the chaplain in your spouse’s unit, or though family support services on your post. Never be afraid to seek counseling from a trained professional. It is their job to listen and help you through.
I do not know what I would have done with my precious canine by my side throughout becoming a military spouse. I admire how animals are able to quickly adapt to any environment and situation. We can learn a lot of life lessons from them. They offer great companionship too.
Remember the Love You Felt on Your Wedding Day
Always remember the love and devotion you and your spouse vowed to each other. This should carry you through all of the ups and downs. Like a plant needs water, sunlight, and love, a marriage needs cultivating and care too. Communicate with each other, make special time for one other, create traditions, explore the area in which you live, do “little” things out of the ordinary to show you care, and most of all laugh together.
When life gets tough, remember the love you felt on your wedding day, and cherish as well as nurture it as long as you both shall live.
Can you relate to Wendi’s story? How did you handle a not-so-perfect transition to military life?
Wendi is a rookie Army spouse, who has over 8 years of experience in Adult Education. She works full time as an Adult Educator, and is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology. She is extremely patriotic, and passionate about helping new military spouses transition and acclimate to this lifestyle by sharing her experiences.