Being a military spouse is a job. Most people don’t see it that way, but it’s true. We have to be able to manage the household alone whenever Uncle Sam says it is time for a TDY, deployment, or remote tour. It’s a good life, but it can be filled with lots of unpredictability.
I’ve been a military spouse for almost six years and I’ve had a steep learning curve. About two weeks after our engagement and setting our wedding date, my husband got orders to deploy. But that’s another post. Here are some things that I have learned so far.
I learned that:
1. The military has their own way of doing things. Their form of communication can sound like a foreign language to outsiders. Everything is identified by numbers or by some form of alphabet soup. Even the way they handle everyday business is very different from the civilian world.
2. Military spouse meetings are a great place to find support and friends.
3. Moving is hard. It’s even harder when you have children.
4. Relocating every 2-3 years is very expensive and the military doesn’t pay for everything. Sometimes, you have to pull out your piggy bank and pay for some expenses yourself.
5. About 75% of the people that you think will keep up with you after you move, do not. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. What’s even more surprising, is that people who you didn’t think would keep in touch with you, will faithfully do so.
6. Maintaining a career of your own is very difficult. I totally understand why some military spouses do not work and they should not be looked down upon.
7. On base housing and lodging varies from base to base. At one base, you can feel like you are staying at the Hilton. At another, you can feel like you are staying at the local Roach Motel. It’s like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.
8. There are many stores that will give military discounts, but you have to specifically ask for it. Make sure you have your ID.
9. The Commissary is a great place to shop, but you can get some things cheaper at other stores.
10. It is important to support your spouse and help them succeed in any way that you can. Your spouse’s success is yours too!
For those of you that are not affiliated with the military, I hope this gave you some insight on the issues that military families face. As for my fellow military spouses, feel free to comment about what you have learned.