Did you wish you got a handbook for military life once you got serious with your service member?
- You are never alone. Though it may feel like it sometimes, there is always someone else who is going through something similar, you just have to find them. And I know a whole bunch of people on our Facebook page and Twitter feed that are ready to support you through whatever challenge you face. We’re all here for you whether you’re active duty, Reserve, or National Guard. Stronger together.
- Don’t define yourself as solely a military spouse. A mistake a lot of military spouses make is defining themselves as nothing more than so-and-so’s spouse or Army wife. You need other things in your life or it will be a long and boring deployment if your only interest is your spouse’s career.
- You are more than a milspouse. It’s OK to have outside interests. Period.
- Where the Class 6 is (and the Commissary, and the Exchange, and the medical treatment facility and the legal office, all of the other important places you will need to use). While you may not want to shop at the commissary all the time, it’s good to know where it is in case you ever need to pick something up really quick. And if something were to happen to your spouse while she was at work you would definitely want to know where the nearest MTF (medical treatment facility) is. You should always learn where the important things on base are, whether or not you live on post.
- This too shall pass. When it gets really hard, like that hump in the middle of a deployment, and it seems like it will never get better, remember, it will pass. Eventually.
- You can handle this. One thing I hear a lot from people who are not married to a service member is that they couldn’t handle living this life. But anyone can, and YOU especially can. You love your servicemember even if you don’t love everything about the military.
- You have many resources at your fingertips. Use them. There are scholarships for spouses, you can get free daycare during a deployment, you have access to help finding a job, and so much more. Learn what is available to you, and use it!
- A positive attitude can get you much farther than a negative one. If you have a positive outlook even during the worst situations, everything seems better. Have to move in 30 days? If you look at it as a challenge and an adventure, it is much easier than if you look at it as the worst thing ever.
- The motto of the military should be hurry up, wait and be patient. The military is known for never doing things on time. It is what it is.
- Be flexible, things change so much in the military, your spouse might come home at 5 pm on the dot every day for a week and then the next week you are lucky if she is home by 9 pm. Instead of getting irritated, roll with it. Making concrete plans can often bite you in the butt!
- Deployments and separations do end even if they seem like they won’t.
- Your friends and family might not get it, but that’s okay. This is something a lot of people who are new to the military struggle with. Their friends and family just don’t get what it’s like. Adjusting to time apart is hard and you might get comments like “well, this is what you signed up for.” It’s hard and while these comments are rude, they usually aren’t aiming to be hurtful.
- Embrace where you live, even if you don’t like your duty station. You might hate where you are, but try to see the good in it, and collect something from everywhere you live. You might never get to go back there, and from experience I can tell you, you will miss things about even the worst duty stations. There is always a redeeming quality.
- Don’t compare your situation to anyone else’s. Everyone loses when you play the who has it worse game. “My husband’s been gone 13 months” “Yeah ,well mine missed the birth of 2 of our children.” “My wife and I had to put our family plans on hold when she got orders to deploy.” No one has it worse than anyone. If someone is having a rough time, telling them how much worse your situation is won’t help them. Or you.
- A general POA won’t get you everywhere…make sure you’re packing heat. There are many different kinds of powers of attorney you might need, there are ones for housing, dealing with your cars, and your bank. A lot of places require a specific POA. Make sure you have any and all POAs you might need. It’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.
- Give everyone a chance. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. You could miss out on a great friendship. Probably my favorite thing about military life is the way so many different types of people come together. You meet people you would have never otherwise met, or even spoken to.
Keep our list going! What are your must-know tips and tricks every military spouse should know? Share them below!