My first year as a Military Spouse
Military Spouse is the newest title I have added to my collection in the past year. There have been quiet a few pro’s and some con’s to this adventure. There’s been a good sized learning curve and I can tell it’s just the tip of the iceberg. By no means am I any sort of expert or authority on matters of military life. However, I noticed that I am wowed by some things that the “Salty Milspouses” (I’m learning the lingo. That basically means seasoned military wives in Navy talk) are so used to. These things that don’t even cross their mind to talk about anymore. That’s why I’m writing this now, for the newbies like me. Hopefully this will help you navigate a little easier and know that you are not alone in this interesting military life.
My Sailor told me on our first date that if I knew I couldn’t move away from my home then I shouldn’t get serious with him. He was straightforward on the fact that he goes where the Navy sends him. That statement made my stomach tighten a little. But I was looking at that sexy little smile, those strong arms and his honey colored eyes and my pitter pattering heart beat so loud that I forgot all about my stomach. It’s easy to know something could happen but not grasp the reality of it until it does. It’s like eating Ben and Jerry’s knowing it’s bad for you but still being shocked and unhappy when those really cute jeans won’t button.
That is so much of what this military journey has been like! One of the biggest peeves I hear from military wives are people saying “well you knew what you were getting in to”. Well, nobody really knows what they’re getting, not really. We all just know a bunch of stuff that could happen. Also, it doesn’t make it easier if it does.
Let’s start with some of those Con’s I mentioned
1.My hubby does NOT have “work hours”
I’m not talking about being deployed. I’m talking about every day. He goes in when he’s told and comes home when they get the job done. Some days he gets home a little early and others he works late. If his guys need him for something that takes priority. We have a call you when I’m on the way home kinda thing in our house. Oh, and he doesn’t get overtime. Even if he doesn’t get home til after I’m in bed! I came from a civilian workplace where we complained about having to answer our phones from work on our days off without getting paid.
Sidenote; Always buy the trip insurance
We LOVE taking ‘just us’ trips, family trips all of it. Well the Military is really good at changing your life on a daily basis. Since his schedule (if it can be called that) is changing all of the time I’m having to learn to be flexible. He will learn about a class only a week or two in advance that is held at night and lasts a month. I sit there listening and thinking, so much for you taking the youngest to baseball practice so I can finish the class I’m in. Sometimes these things pop up with short notice but it’s super important for him to do his job. So, if you have a trip planned you gotta cancel it because he wants this class. Then there are duty nights when he sleeps on the ship and under ways when he is gone for several days or weeks at a time. Yuck, I know.
2.Leaving your career sucks
I had a career that I absolutely LOVED. I worked hard at it, poured hours upon hours into it. My plan was to retire there! Then the military told us we were moving from VA to CA. I cried when I resigned. It’s so hard to walk away. Since being in San Diego I’ve not gone back to work. There is a crazy thing here I never knew existed. NO school busses! Seriously, the kids walk to school. All of them, even elementary. I’m too nervous to let mine, so finding a job that would allow me to drive them to and from school has not worked out so far. There is also the fact that none of our friends and family are here. When hubby deploys or does under ways or duty nights I am the only parent home for them. Something else I hadn’t considered.
3.Your husband and his friends speak a foreign language
Did you know there is actually a dictionary for all of their abbreviations! Yes, so weird. The Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations has over 300 in it. That’s JUST the Navy alone. Now I don’t recommend you go read that. You should try to ask your hubby what some of them mean in your conversations though. For a long time I just nodded and smiled when he would talk code. It could be bad if he says “honey, we are PCSing Oconus” and you just smile and nod. Other spouses are good at helping with this too. Soon you’ll be speaking the language without even realizing it.
3.Missing your Friends and Family is rough
There is just no way around this one. You learn really quickly that the Military owns your husband and loans him to you. That means you are at their mercy as well. You can do something called geo bach. Meaning your soldier lives wherever they give him orders to and you stay home. There are definitely some reasons to do this, it’s different for each family. For ours though, it was more important that we have our family together to support each other and especially our Sailor. So, we leave our life behind. We cry. We miss our people. We hate not being there for weddings, graduations, new babies, girls nights!
Ok, now the good stuff.
1.There is COMPASS
This class is worth it’s weight in gold. Now this class is specifically for Navy spouses but don’t skip this section if you’re in another branch. I want you to see what it offers because I’m sure if you look you will find a similar class in your branch. If you are a milspouse in another branch of service and know about this please comment the link below.
This class was a 3 day course for about 4 hours each day. They offer babysitting and food for free each night too. They taught me naval history, how to read his pay stub, important abbreviations, need to know PCSing (moving) stuff, insurance and ID info, what to expect for deployment including tips for your marriage/family, RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU.
I now have a book full of information, phone numbers, websites etc. I have so many things available to me I think it’ll be a full time job just to use them all. Also, being a military family is tough and it sucks a lot sometimes. We sacrifice a lot for our Soldier to do what he does so make sure that you are using the things that are out there to help support you back. I can’t begin to list the amount of free or discounted opportunities. Stuff you would never imagine if you didn’t go to COMPASS.
Remember that this journey can be what you make it. It’s like most things in life, it’s all about perspective. This can be the most miserable experience ever if you’ve decided it’s going to be. OR it can be the biggest adventure of your entire life! I’ve chosen the second one. Moving was really hard having lived in essentially, the same place my entire life. Now that I’m “out” though, it is incredible. California is exciting and busy and breathtaking and fun and relaxed and new! Plus there are palm trees everywhere so, win. I don’t even know how I’m going to fit in everything I want to see and do in just 3 years before the navy gives us new orders.
This can be said of anywhere you go. I can be upset that my friends aren’t here, I don’t have a job, there are over a million people in San Diego and I’m from the country. That’s just not going to make my time here any fun. My goal is to see this for the incredible experience it is. Military life has given me the opportunity to see and live in parts of the world I never would have otherwise. The best part is that it’s only temporary so I have the job of exploring as much of it as I can before we leave again. One day I know I will miss this.
3.Meet your new family
Being a Navy Wife I have found so many people who want to help. From learning how to navigate military life to just being there to listen. We chose to live in military housing this time and it is so great. I have an entire neighborhood of other military families ready to help at a moments notice. It’s a strange family that bonds quickly and has each others back. It’s nice to know we are all looking out for each others kids, houses etc.
We have neighborhood pot lucks at the playground. Facebook groups that we can share anything from a suspicious incident to a lost/found dog. My kids have instant friends that are in the same boat as them with the military life. There are wives here that are in the same boat as me and are willing to help.
Even aside from our incredible neighborhood I have found people from outside that want to help. From medical professionals to teachers it’s been amazing how much they are willing to go out of their way for our military families. They seem to understand our situation presents it’s own set of obstacles.
4.Pride Honor and Love
An amazing thing happened when I married my Sailor. I became part of what makes our United States Military work. Our Men and Women dedicate their lives to our country. They give up a lot that the civilian world doesn’t have to. They work hard and then a little bit harder. When they have to leave their family for months and months at a time they also leave their support system behind. They get to lean on the people they are deployed with and hopefully a few letters, care packages and phone calls from home. We get to have our family and friends just a phone call away. We have the comfort of home, our bed, good food, church, Netflix, our pets, our kids, therapists!
We get to make this whole thing easier for our Soldiers. We can be their rock, remind them we are here. That everything is aright at home. They can be secure that they are coming back to everything they had to wave good-bye to. As hard as it is on us, it has got to be so much harder on them. I am so proud of my Sailor and I am proud to be his supporter while he serves for us all. On top of all that, I get a man who is so passionate about his love for his country. Can you imagine how much love and dedication he shows me #luckygirl
This military life has been tough and rewarding. It’s always changing and that’s exciting to me. If you are fortunate enough to be part of this family I hope this helps. Get connected and I’d love to hear some of your favorite things about being a milspouse.