Probably every military spouse has heard the words “well you knew this was his job when you married him” when confiding in a civilian friend. Yes, you knew he was in the military, and if you lived together before you got married you had an idea of how life would be. In reality, however, we did not really know what this military life would be about. Although I could build a long list, below are 5 things no one told me before I married my service member, so let me give you a heads start by giving you a heads up.
(And if you are wondering, despite it all, I would still go back 10 years and say I do.)
1. You will not get used to him being away
Whether it is a few days or a painful 6 months, I have never gotten used to him being away. It almost seems like every time he leaves it hurts a little more. Before we got married, he already traveled quite a bit, but I always thought that once we were married I would get used to the routine trips. Especially for aircrews (which he is a part of), traveling is the norm, so in my unmarried mind I figured the frequent trips would get easier with time. I was wrong. They got harder, especially after our son arrived.
2. Acronyms become your second language
As a newbie, it is always exciting (and yes a bit intimidating) to go to your first few spouse socials. But it gets even more nerve racking when they start speaking a language you don’t quite understand: THE ACRONYMS. Everything in the military has an acronym; every group, every office and every… well, everything. But don’t worry, give it 6 months and you will be fluent in acronyms and you might even start creating your own.
3. Your civilian friends won’t get it
Your high school friends will not understand why you can’t RSVP to Mary and Bruce’s wedding right away. They also won’t understand why you have to move so often; a question you get every time they get their Christmas cards returned in the mail because your address changed again. “I don’t know how you do it,” will be a compliment you will hear often, and after explaining the military way of life to non-military friends for the fourteenth time, you will finally understand they will never get it. So just know they mean well, smile and call your fellow military spouse to talk it out.
4. Continuing your career will be very difficult
When you move every 3-4 years, keeping a steady job with growth potential is next to impossible. If we are lucky, some companies will allow us to work remotely or will help us transition to another job when it is time to move. When it comes to unemployment and underemployment, statistics for military spouses are grim. Try not to get discouraged though and look to your fellow spouses for advice. Many spouses have started successful businesses and will be happy to give you advice and even an interview! Visit career fairs and make sure you check what jobs available on base too.
5. You are not expected to do it all, so it is ok to ask for help
In our day and age, we think we are supposed to do it all. Have a perfectly clean home, cook dinner, pay attention to the kiddos, iron the uniforms, try to have a career (or at least give a direct marketing company a try) and be the sole head of the household when our hubbies are away. Some days, you will feel like it is all falling apart. And guess what? It is ok.
Other spouses get it and if one night you just need a glass of wine and a good chat, or you need recommendations for a good babysitter, just ask your fellow spouses. Chances are they asked someone before you, who received a recommendation from someone else before that. We are all in this together, we are all tough and it is ok for us to ask for help.
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