As most military spouses will tell you, this lifestyle isn’t always easy. The constant moves, the barely-there husband or wife, the homesickness that hits you when you’re least expecting it – it’s a lot to deal with, especially when you’re in a new city or state without any of your old comforts. Even the strongest spouses might need to reach out for a little extra help.
When I moved from New York to South Carolina to be with my husband I thought it would be an easy transition. I saw it as a fresh start and a chance to try and move on from the most difficult year of my life (my Dad had recently passed). I was so optimistic and in love, I failed to prepare myself for the challenges I was about to face.
The first month as a spouse was somewhat smooth. I was exploring my new city, spending guilt-free mornings in bed with my new, adorable puppy, and actually enjoying cooking and cleaning in my new role of wife. But eventually that wore off. I began to miss my friends, feel hopeless about my career and get anxious over the thought of another move or the inevitable deployments. I kept asking myself what had I done and doubted whether I could handle a life like this.
Finally, after realizing that randomly breaking out into tears and not being able to enjoy the little time I got with my very busy husband wasn’t working for me, I decided to see a counselor on base. I had seen therapists before, but this time was different. It wasn’t all about me; it was also about taking some pressure off of my husband, who sees his primary job as making sure I’m happy.
After several therapy sessions on base, I started to build new skills to cope with the several changes in my life. The first was simply being able to cry, and be able to say exactly what was bothering me without feeling guilty for complaining, as I often did with my overworked and tired husband. Then I began to finally be able to begin the process of accepting change (something I’m still working on) and letting go of the things I had no control over. For me, this was through writing and eventually bringing my husband in on a session. (Feeling SAD? You are Not Alone…)
I saw major improvements after my last experience with therapy, and when I spoke with fellow military spouses, I realized there were even more benefits from seeking therapy in our marriages and as individuals. Here are just a few:
1 | Gaining confidence: Meralina Morales, who says she faced childhood abuse as well as anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder, initially wanted to see a therapist to be mentally and physically healthier for herself and to have a happier marriage. She says it helped her see the good in herself and boosted her confidence.
“I think everyone has had their own challenges in life. Some have thick skin, and some people, like myself, can’t stand the thought of being alone,” she explains. “I recommend [seeing a therapist] for wives who even have the slightest sense of resentment toward themselves, and anyone who feels lonely and depressed in this hard lifestyle we go through for the loves of our life.”
2 | Dealing with deployments: Shelby Cady saw a therapist after having trouble adjusting during her spouse’s first deployment, a time period in which she worked overnights and didn’t have any friends for support.
“The psychiatrist helped me get over that hump with counseling and a script. Who knows how long it would have lingered without her help? Also, it was a person to see each week, someone that cared, who I could talk to in person and much better than the barista,” she says.