No matter how familiar you are with the military culture, no matter how prepared you think you are to embrace it, when you say “I do” to someone who wears combat boots to work every day, there are things you will learn that may never have occurred to you.
Some of us pick up on those things quickly, and some of us are still (after decades of this life) figuring things out on a daily basis.
We asked a group of our incredible Military Spouse contributors to share some of the things they really wish they had known early on. We want to know, what would you add to this list?
1. I wish I had known to give up on planning as soon as possible. The sooner you give in to having no set plan, the easier everything becomes.
2. Honestly, I wish I understood what a valuable resource military spouses can be — instead of being afraid.
3. I wish I had taken all those classes specifically for spouses a lot sooner.
4. I wish I had known it was okay to ask questions sooner. And who would have the answers! (Hint: It is not usually the service member)
5. I wish I had known to accept that my husband doesn’t and NEVER WILL have a set schedule, so I can’t really plan much ahead of time.
6. I wish I knew how unbreakable military spouse bonds could be.
7. I wish I had immersed myself in our community sooner. I thought being a National Guard spouse meant being a loner in the military realm, but have come to find that there is a great deal of support and camaraderie.
8. I wish I had realized that rank shouldn’t be a factor in friendships. We are all in the same boat and anyone who ever tells you they can’t be your friend due to rank isn’t a person you want to associate with anyway.
9. I wish I had known that it IS okay to have a life outside of the military and your military spouse friends.
10. I wish I had become more involved in the local community, outside of the base, sooner.
11. I wish I had worried less what others might think of me. If I want to wear a hundred shirts proudly displaying my spouses branch of service…then I will!
12. I wish I had been more of a tourist at every duty station. There are so many local things I wish I had experienced in every place we lived over the years.
13. I wish someone had explained what “hurry up and wait” really meant.
14. I wish I knew that you CAN have a successful career you can take with you everywhere.
15. I wish I knew we truly are like a family. We have our issues in this community, but when someone tries to attack one of us, we rise up and come to their defense…even if we don’t personally know him or her.
16. I wish that I had known that even though the mission comes first, I don’t always come last. (Understanding THAT little nugget might have diffused an argument or two over time.)
17. I wish I knew that you CAN be eligible for unemployment when you lose your job due to transfer!
18. I wish I knew NOT to buy expensive furniture in the first year of marriage — only to anxiously watch it moved six times in 10 years. Needless to say, my stuff is gently bruised, but the upside is discovering the world of IKEA!