“Your actions reflect on your soldier.”
“The needs of the Marine Corps…”
“Instead of traveling, we’ve decided to just live everywhere for a few years at a time.”
If you’ve heard any of these one-liners or a variation of them, you’re probably a military spouse.
Honestly, a lot of unwritten expectations are put on our shoulders. Almost all of those responsibilities are unpaid, but they make the military world go round.
Here’s the thing: there are a bunch of things you simply don’t need to do.
I came up with a list of 9 things that military spouses do not need to do. Here it is.
1. Bake the Cookies
You do not need to bake the cookies, the cakes, the pies or the lasagna. You don’t need to greet every person who moves into your on-base neighborhood with homemade anything. Sure, getting a big plate of still warm chocolate chip cookies is great.
But you don’t have to. It’s not a law. No one will starve to death if you don’t bake the cookies.
2. Believe the Outdated Books
There are several manuals for military spouses that have been gifted to newbies for a few decades now. I have BOTH versions of the USMC books: enlisted and officer. According to these books, I need to have calling cards made and be prepared with a bunch of place settings for many occasions.
I also need white gloves.
Ummmmm, no. That’s a big nope. I’m not buying any gloves and neither should you.
A quick scan will tell you that these books were written for military spouses in a different era.
Pro-tip: Buy and read “Modern Military Spouse.” It is a comprehensive e-book for today’s military spouse. This 14-chapter book contains 20+ printable documents and checklists, along with 3 bonus sections. Our favorite is the resume building checklist. You’ve got to check it out.
3. Be Susie (or Sam) Homemaker
After reading those books (see #2), you’ll get the feeling that all military spouses stay home and make things perfect. It’s simply not the case. My own house currently has toys scattered across every square inch and dinner was frozen pizza.
Honestly, if keeping a spotless home or home cooking everything isn’t your thing, it doesn’t have to be.
Do what makes you happy and stop worrying about having a picture perfect home 100% of the time. Or really any percent of the time.
4. Attend Every Military Ball
Yes, dressing up is super fun. The hair, the makeup, the fancy clothes and that uniform. Swoon!
Now, add in a few kids that need a babysitter, the dry mass-cooked catered food and all the sitting and standing. That ball is suddenly not so much fun anymore.
So skip it! And don’t feel guilty about it.
After all, you can eat dry chicken in the comfort of your own home, sipping a beer while you wear yoga pants and binge-watching TV.
5. Volunteer Every Time You Are Asked to Volunteer
There are approximately 1,000 places to volunteer on base. But you don’t have to. Permission granted.
You have a busy life to live, and if volunteering doesn’t fit, that’s OK. Sure, volunteering is great and apparently looks good on a resume, but if you don’t have the time or desire, that’s fine! If you only want to volunteer at one place or do a one-time thing, that’s totally cool too.
6. Be Involved in the Unit
Repeat after me: you are NOT in the military (unless you are, and then this might not apply to you). You do not have to go to every single unit function or be on the family readiness team or bake for the shop weekly (see #1). You don’t have to. That’s it.
If you want to or can, that’s cool.
If you don’t, whatever. I promise that everyone will survive.
7. Be a SAHM or a Working Mom (or a Parent at All)
Don’t feel pressured to be a certain kind of parent just because it’s the “norm.” And if you don’t want kids, that’s fine, too. Parent (or don’t) anyway that works for you and your family.
8. Love Where You Currently Live
So you probably should try to make the best of wherever you are planted. Nothing says you have to “bloom” there though.
There are lots of interesting places that you can be stationed, from exotic Japan to the wilds of Oklahoma. Definitely try to find something you tolerate about where you live.
But you don’t have to love it or even like it. You can dislike your duty station or even downright hate it.
Complain all you want and wait anxiously for that next set of PCS orders. There is nothing that says you must adore your temporary hometown.
9. Apologize for Living Your Life on Your Terms
Don’t be sorry for living your life the way that works for you. At the end of the day, you need to be happy with yourself.
So you do you in the ways that seem best to you, right now. Whatever that means, even if it’s different from what “everyone” else is doing.
Ignore anyone who doesn’t think you’re doing this military life correctly or normally. Those people aren’t you and will never be you.
Paddle your own boat, beat your own drum and apologize for nothing that makes you happy.