I Married Into the Military… Now What?
24 tips from your new community
Advice from: Rebecca Alwine, Kate Dolack, Katie Foley, Beth Garland, Ingrid Herrara-Yee, Stacy Huisman, Babette Maxwell, Cyndia Rios-Myers, Rebekah Sanderlin, Morgan Slade, Lori Volkman, Clarice Williams
YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE WHO WEARS A UNIFORM.
You said “I do” and have your marriage certificate. You’ve probably even gotten that military “dependent” ID with a picture you hate. You might feel like you are embarking upon a journey in a foreign land. Heck… you may literally BE planning to start your married life together in a foreign land!
But even if your feet will remain firmly planted on American soil, military life can be very different than what you may be used to. We asked a group of our contributors-all military spouses-for pieces of advice they would give to a friend who just married a member of our Armed Forces. We hope this advice will help you as you embark on your journey… and welcome to the incredible Military Spouse community!
24. CHECK THE WASH
You don’t want to wash your delicates with anything involving Velcro… trust us on this one! Victoria’s Secret can quickly become Victoria’s Shredded, if you wash them with the wrong uniform.
23. WE HAVE A SAYING
“If you want information about the military, don’t ask your service member… ask another military spouse!” It is true. It doesn’t mean they are not knowledgeable. It just means they are more focused on their job than the location of the gym with childcare on base.
22. FINANCES IN CHECK
Make sure you pay your bills on time and never, ever bounce a check on base.
21. BACK-UP YOUR LIFE
Keep a file on your computer of all the places you have lived. After six PCS moves, it can be hard to remember counties and ZIP codes when an employer or loan officer asks for all
of that information from the past 10 years.
20. LEARN TO LOVE YOUR DUTY STATION
Or, at the very least, if you can’t love it… find something that can make it bearable.
Don’t forget to ask for a military discount. Some places are kind enough to offer one, and every penny saved can help.
Respect the other branches, and their traditions, ceremonies and spouses. We are all in this together.
17. REALITY CHECK
Accept that long separations from your spouse will happen. Focus on what the time apart can do to strengthen your marriage, not what it can do to tear it apart.
16. TIME CHECK
No move is final until you have orders. And no homecoming date/time is concrete until you see them standing in front of you.
15. ROLL CALL
Attend “new spouse” orientation and any other classes offered on base for spouses. They are full of valuable information and can be a great place to meet other spouses and make friends.
14. DON’T GET ATTACHED
Something will break with every move, and there may be items you will never find again. One of us still can’t find her dang tennis balls and measuring cups!
Learn to put yourself out there and make friends! But also, learn to say “See ya later” to great, wonderful friends, too. Military life means that everyone keeps moving. (Note: we never, ever say goodbye… just “see you later” because, guess what? We probably all will!)
12. FIND YOUR FUNNY BONE
You will definitely need it!
11. MEDICAL CHECK
Keep your own medical file (ask for copies from any and all medical care you or your family members receive) and always bring it with you.
Spend some time trying to understand TRICARE. Although we are thankful for the healthcare we have, the insurance giant is the reason some of us carry flasks.
9. NO HIGH HORSES
Military spouses don’t earn rank… so we don’t wear it either. Just leave it out of the conversation and learn about the person, not what job or position their service member holds.
8. STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF
Keep your own interests, your own hobbies, and keep a career going if that is feasible.
7. VALUABLE NUMBERS
Memorize your service member’s Social Security number. You will need it for EVERYTHING!
6. GET A BATTLE BUDDY
Find one who will be there for you when Murphy comes to visit right after your spouse deploys.
5. BASE HOUSING
Try to live in base housing at least once. You can get the feel for the military community, and all of the resources will be close and at your disposal.
4. DON’T BELIEVEEVERYTHING
Don’t listen to military spouses who might tell you that all of the people at Family Readiness Group meetings are gossips and mean. Attend the meetings and form your own opinions.
3. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Military life can be overwhelming and feel all- encompassing. If you take the time to engage in activities you enjoy, find a career that makes you happy, or foster meaningful friendships, you can avoid some of the depression, anger or resentment that some spouses can feel.
2. RAIN CHECK
Realize that holidays, birthdays and anniversaries can be celebrated on whatever day you choose! Sometimes your service member will be away for the exact date, but that shouldn’t keep you from celebrating when you are together again.
1. KEEP A JOURNAL
Military life equals constant change. Writing down your experiences and feelings can help you cope with the change-and even enjoy it! The first year of marriage is a learning experience. Write down the things you learn and take photos of all your “firsts”.