To the New Spouse of a Scary MOS:
You know who you are.
Welcome to our tribe.
You may or may not have had the distinction of growing up or living near a military community. The language, the abbreviations, the uniforms — it can be totally overwhelming. I feel you.
In addition to adjusting to military life, you just might now be realizing that your person has a different job. Many things cannot be shared, his or her schedule and deployment tempo looks drastically different from your neighbor’s. Your relationship might even look a little different — some of these gigs require more dependent independence than others. However, combat stress is never an excuse for abuse. Love is always, always respect.
1. You must guard your peace.
The media is not your friend; that includes the apps on your smart phone. Turn it off and don’t play the online comparison game or troll news sites to guess where your person might be. Learn to appreciate the silence — and if the worst happens — they will let you know. Pursue what brings calm, when the military brings chaos. Realize your limitations with time and energy and do a few things well. Make them healthy pursuits- that make you a better version of yourself.
2. Protect your marriage.
Don’t over schedule a four-day weekend. Sleep in, cuddle, hold hands when you can. Be a safe place, an incredible listener and someone who can bring comfort in the silence. You won’t be able to understand what they have seen. They won’t be able to share where they have been. Don’t grow resentful — this is a unique calling and you have the honor and privilege to be married to a person who is able to do this incredibly difficult job well.
3. Defend your home.
You are already a family — whether it’s two people, five, blended, and/or fur-babies. If you find yourself parenting in this wild military life, be mindful of what your children hear you say. Their imaginations are limitless and don’t need further encouragement to be anxious. Utilize on-post resources for support and seek professional help if needed for you or your people. Let your home be a refuge for your family.
4. Find your community.
Find your middle-of-the night people, the emergency contacts for the elementary school. You will not survive this life alone. Civilian friends are wonderful, but there is nothing like a friend who absolutely understands the crazy of your military life. Once you find them, fiercely love them back. There will be dark days and those will be the hands that pull you out of your funk. Be careful not to judge them by first impression; they might not look like your hometown friends. Your different experiences and unique personalities will strengthen your friendship and grow you both as people. Plus it is fun to hang with your friends when your presence is requested at “work” activities.
5. Serve your community.
The spouses will need you. Show up. Help how you can. If you are burned out, take a break. Strong families make a strong military. Especially in these communities, new spouses will need an orientation. Help them and allow them to help you when you need it. Sometimes it is a pot of soup or a coffee delivery. Share your ideas and attend events; your presence and voice is valuable.
6. Engage in the impossible conversation with your spouse.
It’s so hard to allow yourself to travel down the what if road. Do it once and hash it out. Make the tough decisions with your spouse and inquire about additional life insurance policies. Make the will, pick the guardians and put it away. Once you have it done, you will feel better. I promise.
7. Keep the rules of fight club.
Operational security has never been so important. You might not ever really know what your spouse is up to, but even a bad guess disclosed can be dangerous. Do not talk about fight club ever. It’s tough, especially if you are chatty. Train yourself now. It is more important than you know. Also, be kind to those not in fight club; their journey is tough as well. Nobody forces a fight club membership — own your crazy and learn to love it.
Be well, friend. You can do this.