First comes love…then comes marriage…THEN comes the introduction to the military lifestyle. It’s time to learn a whole new language, become a pro at packing an entire house in just a few hours, and learn how important it is to never put plans in ink because they are bound to change as soon as you do… This life doesn’t come with a handbook. At least it hasn’t since the 1970’s! So it’s up to the seasoned spouses to help out those who are just stepping into the craziness that comes with their partner’s service. For those who want to reach out to a new spouse in their community here are a few tips to point you in the right direction…
Roll out the welcome wagon!
If you’re a proactive spouse, it would be beneficial to start a new spouses welcome packet that the FRG would be able to distribute. Include base maps, hot spots in the town, events that make that duty station a great place to be, the best mechanics and babysitters to call, the local churches that people rave about. Again, go back to what you wish someone would have told you when you arrived in town and pass that info on!
Extend the invites!
Do it over and over. I know it can be frustrating when you invite someone out and they say no but for a new spouse those invites are going to make a difference. Once the boxes are unpacked, the seabags stored away, and the basic stores are located, that new spouse is going to be ready to step out of their comfort zone and embrace their new duty station. For shy spouses it’s especially hard so it might take more than one invite to get them out of their shell. Don’t give up!
Remember that you were new once, too!
Think back to the first time you stepped on base. Were you intimidated? A little overwhelmed by the rules that came with the ID you were issued? Can you recall the first time you forgot to tip a bagger at the commissary or didn’t stop when colors sounded? For people who have no experience with the military it’s common to feel lost in this world. Especially when they encounter people who make it seem so easy because they have had the practice. Make the new spouses aware that they aren’t alone.
Oh, and if you’re a new spouse…WELCOME! Welcome to this crazy, chaotic, loud, fun, loving family. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help because those spouses around you have been there are have some great advice on everything from what duty station to aim for next to how to change a flat tire on the side of the road and how to improvise making pancakes when you have nothing but a flattop stove and a cookie sheet. While right now you might feel like you just landed on a foreign planet trying to navigate military terms and base rules, in no time you’ll be one of those spouses that the new ones are looking to for help.
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