Have you ever felt like there were rules about what a military spouse “should and shouldn’t do?” You don’t want to forget OPSEC, but what about the rest of your life? Here are ten things you might not have realized you are allowed to do.
1. You are allowed to take time off of the news.
News travels fast, and even faster among the squadron spouses, of what may be happening. Situations abroad can lead to speculation of if your spouse will deploy or if a war will break out. If the news is overwhelming, you are allowed to tend to your sanity by taking a break from the breaking news.
2. You are allowed to set boundaries over social media.
Suppose your spouse is TDY, and it feels like the world is overwhelming, and you need time to take care of your family and focus. In that case, you can kill your newsfeed with a simple chrome extension or make a post letting people know you won’t be on social media as much because your home is your current priority. You do not need to be everything to everyone, and if you are, you may burn out.
3. You are allowed not to volunteer on base.
Air Force spouse, Brooke, was a Key Spouse, led a grief support group, helped the club fundraiser, and volunteered in other ways when stationed in Italy. She decided to focus on her business at her next base. You can choose a focus area for each station or play it by ear. There is always a need, but you are never required to volunteer.
4. You are allowed to take solo trips.
If you have the luck to be stationed overseas, you’ll have the opportunity to visit many places. Your partner may have to work, so take solo trips by yourself or indulge in a mini trip with friends to a local festival.
5. You are allowed to work.
Finding a job as a military spouse is much easier these days in a digital world, but it can still be frustrating. Although many spouses volunteer or choose to stay at home to raise kids, you can get a job, whether full or part-time, online or on or off base. No guilt is required.
6. You are allowed to disagree with the military’s choices.
Just because you are attached to the military doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with what is happening. Call your representatives, vote, and get involved if it’s important to you. You are still representing your significant other, both in-person and online, so be respectful when engaging in discourse.
7. You are allowed to keep your style and personality.
When Amber, an Air Force spouse, knew her husband was applying for OTS, she dyed her colorful hair one last time, thinking she’d have to go natural soon to be a “good officer’s wife.” She later realized there were no such rules. As long as you dress appropriately for functions, your bright pink blazer can fit in right next to those dress blues. You don’t have to shrink as a military spouse and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
8. You are allowed not to be strong and resilient.
If there was one phrase the average spouse never wants to hear again, it’s, “You knew what you signed up for.” We often did not, and you don’t have to be strong all the time. You are allowed to cry, vent, and have emotional needs. Allow yourself space to be held and seen by supportive people.
9. You are allowed to push back when needed.
Maybe your child needs to go on EMFP, but TRICARE is fighting you. You can stand up and say when something is not okay and make your voice heard, whether about orders, healthcare, or base housing. There are patient advocates and non-profits you can connect with for assistance.
10. You are allowed to make friends with people who are married to a different rank than your spouse is.
Your enlisted spouse may not be able to grab a snack at the park with an officer, but you can make friends with anyone you would like. Be aware that getting together for a double date might be a different story to avoid the appearance of favoritism. In which case, enjoy your friendship without the pressure of the spouses getting along.
May you remember at the end of the day that even though you are a military spouse, you are a human being and allowed to live a life you love.