Photo Credit: Morgan Slade
My husband just left for basic a week ago. We’ve been living together for three years, married for one month. I am having a really difficult time coping with him being away. I haven’t gotten a phone call or letter or anything yet. Can you offer any advice or help?
Brand New MilSpouse
Dear Brand New MilSpouse,
First let me welcome you to an amazing community and your new crazy, wonderful military life!! Even though I have been a military spouse for what seems like a thousand years… I do remember what it felt like to be brand new to this life. I remember the first time my husband was gone for military training. I remember how difficult it was. I remember the worry, the stress… fearing the unknown. And I just want to give you a big hug.
As a seasoned spouse though, I can also tell you that I still struggle when my husband is gone. There are still difficult times. I still worry, there is still stress, and I still fear the unknown. I don’t tell you that to cause you further distress… but to let you know that even though you are brand new to this life, there are so many others in the same boat. We get it. We understand. We are here for you.
That is probably not much comfort right this very minute though, is it? No. You are looking for words of wisdom, answers, something, ANYTHING, to help you cope. And you want to know when to expect that first letter! I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for that, but I do think I may have a few pieces of advice that I wish I had known when I was a brand new spouse.
1) Find other military spouses, they understand better than anyone else can.
If he just left for basic, you may not be near an installation. It may be hard to find people in your physical town that know exactly what you are going through. You may have to start online, which can be tricky. But there are some amazing support groups through social media. The minute you see spouses engage in gossip, bullying, or child-like behavior… just move on. I promise you that is not a good representation of our community as a whole. Move on and find a group of spouses who really just want to support each other. As always, keep following us here at Military Spouse; on Facebook, twitter (@milspousemag) and of course our awesome boards on Pinterest (@milspousemag). In addition we are sending you a subscription to the magazine… every month I still learn something new about this life from flipping through the pages!
2) You are allowed to worry, stress, or be upset.
‘Normal’ people get married and then they actually live with their spouses. I mean you probably wouldn’t have married him if you didn’t want to spend your life with him, right? Well military couples know a very different reality, and it is OKAY to feel upset about it. Sure, you are new and he may ‘just’ be at basic training… but this is not what you are used to and it can be an adjustment. Sometimes allowing ourselves to FEEL the emotion and not hope for it to go away can help us get THROUGH the emotion. So don’t beat yourself up for not being able to cope. You miss him. That is a GOOD thing.
3) Learn what is available, and utilize it!
There are many support services and resources available to military families. You may not be near an installation right now, but chances are if your husband is going to be active duty you will end up at one. Every installation offers programs and classes for spouses. These programs will give you vital information about military life in general, your particular installation, and the surrounding area. Go to every single one you can manage! In the meantime keep checking out our ‘New Spouse’ resources here at Military Spouse!
4) Get busy!
This is the best piece of advice I can offer you, honestly. Yes, your life may change a LOT because of your husband’s new career. Supporting him in what he does is important… but so is making sure that you are still involved in the things you love, pursuing your own dreams and goals, and taking care of YOU. It can be tempting to kind of isolate yourself and get drawn into a life of sadness when your spouse is gone. I have been there. What I found to be a much better coping mechanism was to realize that even when my husband is gone, I still have to live life! And he would not want it any other way. If you are not working, consider looking for a part-time job or finding a place to volunteer. Working or not, accept that invitation to the movies or coffee with friends. Maybe there is a new skill or hobby you would like to learn? Is there a project you could get excited about completing? Stay busy and the time will go by faster… but your husband will also know that you can be happy without him there. That is also a GOOD thing.
Again, welcome to the military spouse community… you are now a part of an incredible, diverse, supportive and strong group of people. I know that you can DO THIS! Find a few amazing milspouse friends, don’t shy away from your feelings, use your resources and get busy… in a year I just know you will be looking back at pride with how far you have come!