Being a military spouse is not for the faint of heart. There are constantly outside forces that you have no control over affecting your marriage. This post is all about 9 top tips for handling marriage and the military.
Having spent my entire life affiliated with the military I have personal, second, and third hand experience with this. Military service is just something the men in my family are drawn to. I was born into the military and my husband joined as well. I wanted to join and was given a big fat “NO” for medical reasons. Oh well, water under the bridge. That ship has sailed.
Know that all of this information is coming from years of experience and connections with other military spouses.
The bottom line is marriage and the military takes work, patience, dedication and creativity! There’s a lot to cover here so let’s get started!
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Marriage and the Military
First, we will dig in to the marriage piece because it goes hand in hand with the next section. Hang in with me here.
Ok, marriage all on it’s own is not easy. Even when you have the same environment, the same people, the same jobs… you get the point…. day in and day out.
Marriage is a process that is always changing and always (hopefully) growing. Add in the military factor and you just added the stress of the expectation of working until the job is done. No more working until the end of the work day everyday and picking up where you left off tomorrow.
Let’s be honest. They aren’t just training for a sales pitch to a customer or preparing a presentation for a potential client. No matter what their job is they are all practicing and have jobs so they are prepared for the real deal. If and when crap hits the fan they immediately transition into “go mode”. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that. Remember, marriage in the military just has different realities than those in the civilian world.
Reality of Marriage to the Military Sets In
If you’re reading this you are probably affiliated with the military in some way so you get it. We all know that it is painful at times to not be able to plan a dinner time or count on your service member to be there to pick up the kids every day. Not for a lack of trying or wanting to. Sometimes it just isn’t possible.
Speaking of which, you know they are going to deploy, go TDY, go to training, etc.
The one thing you can count on is you have to be able to cover down on things. Insert a very melodramatic adult tantrum here because, again… we didn’t sign up to be in the military, they did! Right???
We’ve all been there. In those moments just remember that you love them. They are likely wrestling with similar frustrations because they don’t want to be at anyone’s beck and call any more than you want them to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I had my moments (3rd time finding out we were being stationed BACK at the place dear hubby joined the military to leave…) but here are 9 top tips for protecting your mindset about everything which will, in turn, help protect your marriage.
The point here… you are setting the stage for a partnership that is strong.
9 Top Tips to Protect Your Marriage
Duty Station Specific Tips:
- Take time to understand the expectations for time and commitment when you get to a new duty station. This changes depending on the assignment. Expectation management is key.
- Take advantage of the time you get! Time is one thing you can never get back. Don’t look back and say “what if”, look back and say, “that was hilarious” or “we really failed at that attempt”. Regardless, those are memories you are making and you will cherish them later.
- Allow yourself to be adventurous and spontaneous ~ no matter how much you despise the current assignment. There will undoubtedly be some bazaar things on the list but they will be the things you remember most!
- Plan weekend or day trips to see local sights or sights in the state you are stationed at. Again, memories… Make the most of every assignment even when you don’t really want to.
Military Assignment & Expectations Tips:
- No matter how badly you want to, don’t hold them responsible for things they can’t control. This one is SO tough but it doesn’t go anywhere good so avoid going there. When you feel that frustration creeping in just focus on how you can work together to overcome the situation.
- Never…..and I mean NEVER get your heart set on a duty station or date for PCS. The one thing you can count on is things change and they change fast. Avoid the meltdown, frustration, anger and sadness and just accept that when the orders come it’s time to prepare for a new adventure. (More on this down in the dedication section)
- Do not believe in the “perfect military spouse” expectations. Once upon a time, yes that was a thing. It’s not anymore. Be you and be kind and be supportive and the rest will fall into place. You don’t have to look or act any particular way.
- Remind yourself that civilian workers of all kinds are missing meals and activities too. It’s not that is makes any less sad that it’s happening but protect your mindset towards this. They could be out of the military and have very similar problems.
- Find something for YOU no matter where you go. This one is so important. You are part of a greater community no matter where you are. Find something to get involved in. Your work may do that for you or it may not. Regardless, don’t allow yourself to fall into a place where you get everything you need from your spouse. It breeds resentment and frustration.
Marriage Isn’t Perfect…Military or Not
It is so important to remind yourself, I mean consciously tell yourself, that not every problem you have is a result of the military. There is something about the hardest of days that just breeds that mentality. If you haven’t found yourself there yet, you are doing great! Keep it up!
Being a military spouse makes you a part of a whole other community as well. Be aware of what’s happening around you. It is far too easy for a spouse to slip into solitude and spiral with all of the frustrations associated with being a military spouse. Do what you can to be a good steward of the skills that you have and help others whenever you can.
Finally, just remember, marriage in the military isn’t easy. What it is…. is a really unique opportunity to build memories, experience things that you might never get to otherwise and see places you wouldn’t have gone. Approach it as a partnership. You are in this together and looking back when it is all over and they are retired you will miss it! No matter how frustrated you may get with everything you will miss many parts of your time affiliated with the military.
Just focus on each day and make it the best day you can. One day after another you will find yourself in a better mindset each day!
This post was all about marriage and the military and how to make the most of every day with our 9 top tips for being married to a service member.