Sometimes the military life is romanticized and sometimes it gets a really bad rap. To be honest, it’s a little bit of both. Do the men look really sexy in uniform? Yes. Is it fun to get all dolled up for a military ball? Why yes, yes it is. How about those homecoming videos after deployments, is there any other feeling like it in the world? Nope! Ok, I get it. It’s romantic. Speaking of uniforms, I claim the one on the left… and sorry, the one on the right is taken too!:
Now what about the bad stuff? How about that lack of communication during training or deployments. Yeah that’s not fun. Or moving every few years or less? Moving is THE worst thing ever. Do you really not get to pick where you’re going to live or if you can take a vacation for summer break? Yeah, no. Alright. I get it. Doesn’t sound like a good time to many.
Let’s be real. You have to give up some things when you become a military spouse. It’s not all candy and roses and fancy balls, there’s also sacrifice and there are challenges mixed in. It’s one helluva ride, and this is what I had to give up:
- My Job- I had to give up my job because unfortunately it was a position very specific to the state we lived in. I was a lead facilitator for the Delaware Readiness Teams. This meant I worked with organizing and managing schools and community groups in Delaware towards improving early learning in their communities. Not exactly something that all states have. So even though my job could not be transferred, I have a pretty killer résumé and can use those skills to find work in my career field in our new location. There are so many resources available to military spouses, and even though it isn’t a cakewalk, it’s more than possible to continue your career as a military spouse. Check out this super sweet infographic, I’ll be sharing more about it in a future post:
- My Home- I have lived my whole life in the same county in Delaware. I was pretty comfortable living less than two miles from my sister, twenty minutes from my brother, and thirty minutes from my best friends. I knew once we were fully immersed in the military life it would not stay that way, but I was super excited for the adventure. So put on your travel britches and get ready to move, because home is now wherever the military leads you! Do not fret! We are extremely lucky to live at the time we do with all the opportunities for communication, so you can still stay in touch with your families back “home”. There are some downsides, like you won’t make it to every birthday, holiday, dance recital or baseball game, but it makes the times when you are reunited, that much sweeter.
- My addiction to planning- Lawd how I love to plan! I have so many spreadsheets and calendars and lists I’ve made-beginning from the time I could write, through high school, college, when planning my wedding, my sister’s wedding, and basically every day of my life. Well…. the military likes to look at your plans and chuckle and then do what needs to be done, even if it doesn’t fit in with your plans. So I had to take a moment and put into check my desire to plan out multiple vacations a year, with itineraries, and reservations, and skipping the travel insurance. But I heard a great tip from a senior spouse at a group meeting I attended last week. She said, she has learned to plan her life with the assumption that her husband will not be there, so when he is able to be there, it’s a wonderful addition. This eliminates being disappointed, and it also eliminates putting your own life on hold and constantly waiting to pursue some of the things you want to do. Does this mean your significant other is never going to be there? Absolutely not. But there will be times when they will be gone, and depending on their job, some more than other. Now obviously this doesn’t apply to every situation, but I think this is a good mentality and “plan” to have.
- Clutter- Being in the military means moving. They’re basically synonymous. So unless you like to move a lot of stuff every couple of years, or less if you’re in flight school like we are, it’s time to PURGE the clutter. I downsized a lot when my husband was at Officer Candidate School in preparation for our move. We had lived in the same house for 3 years (a long time for us) and had accumulated crap. So I held 5 yard sales over the summer and we still ended up donating about 20 boxes of junk…. I mean quality second-hand items, to the Purple Heart Society. I like them because they’ll come get your… quality second-hand items. And then we moved, and I’ve identified an additional 10 boxes of crap I’m going to get rid of. Anyone need some throw pillows or kitchen glasses?
- Comfort zone- When you live in one place for an extended period of time, you get very comfortable. You have your schedule and your habits, your friends, family, and coworkers. You have your go-to restaurants, you know where everything is in your grocery store, and you know which gas station has the cheapest gas. These are all things you need to relearn every time you move. Your comfort zone is more than just having to make new friends. You’re basically relearning how to live your life. It’s tough, but it’s also exciting, because when you finally find your favorite bread or ice cream, it’s such a relief! And even better when you discover a NEW favorite bread or ice cream that your old location didn’t have! It’s the little things. Learn to embrace the little things.
I hope this didn’t come across as negative, because I absolutely love my life as a military spouse and you will too. The morale of the story is to be flexible. Be resilient. You can try super hard to cling to all the things that came so easy when you lived back home. Or you can embrace the life you now GET to live! You GET to meet so many diverse people from different parts of the world. You GET to make an impact in different communities! You GET to be with the love of your life as you build an amazing and passion-filled life together. One set of orders at a time.