Life as a Military Spouse: 4 Basic Truths

There are countless advantages and disadvantages to being a military spouse. What may work for one marriage could be difficult for the next. Depending on your spouse’s job and rank, your life as a military spouse could look vastly different from others and the ‘life’ part of the work/life balance may be difficult to achieve at times. It’s true, some things you’ll never be prepared for, but there are so many resources available as well as access to support. 

Sometimes, it’s just about reframing your perspective. At times, what may be demanded of your spouse is so over the top, it’s comical. Celebrate every little win because military spouses often sacrifice just as much as their service members, albeit in different ways. Whether you’ve recently made the rank of Military Spouse or have PCS’d so many times that you have a system down, here are 4 truths about life as a military spouse:

#1 It’s Adventurous

Adventurous may be an understatement. According to the DoD, approximately 1/3 of military service members PCS every year. That’s roughly 500,000 families picking up their entire life, moving it across the country, or even across the world and starting over. Of course, that’s the main event. The adventure part trickles down to every fine detail. Maybe the movers have been delayed and you have to camp in your own house for another week or two, or perhaps there’s a gap between when your spouse is required to report and when your housing will be ready. Do you stay in a hotel? Airbnb? What will you get reimbursed for? 

It’s a crazy time but with every PCS comes new opportunity. You meet new people and make new families. There’s comfort in knowing that everyone in that community is going through the same thing. This is especially true for those moves that you are not excited about, to remote places, far away from major cities. Some military families will say those were the best places because of the people. 

There are so many quirks to each new house and the surrounding area that you’ll need to learn and work around. At the end of the day, it’s important for you to remember that this lifestyle is far from normal and viewing it as an adventure with your spouse can certainly help.

#2 Your Professional Life Can Be a Challenge

More often than not, a PCS has meant leaving your current job. You may leave a job you love and are qualified for, that’s just challenging enough and with growth potential for a job you’re overqualified for in an industry you’re not really interested in. Or maybe your resume has caught up with you and the gaps or sporadic work history have made it difficult for you to land a job at all. Unfortunately, this is common. Your career takes a backseat to your spouse’s career. 

On the bright side, the number of remote job opportunities increasing is nothing but good news for military spouses. Now more than ever, there’s a good chance for a military spouse to hold a well-balanced job without worrying about the next move. 

Military spouse unemployment has been a national conversation for years, here’s the latest information, and here are more resources for education and employment

#3 Deployments Are a Harsh Reality

You may get used to deployments and come to know what to expect but that doesn’t make them easier. Some military spouses even move back home with family while their partner is deployed, others have kids in school or a job that prevents them from being close to relatives while they wait. No matter what measures you take to prepare, deployments take an emotional toll on the family. You’re in a constant state of worry about your partner’s well-being all while trying to meet the obligations of everyday life. You may try to keep a brave face, but it is important that you work through your emotions. Military One Source offers some advice about handling emotions before, during, and post-deployment here

Joining supportive groups, like this one on Facebook, can provide some insight and ideas on how to handle your situation. If you have kids, here are some fun countdown ideas.

#4 Your Participation Makes Life Easier

If you didn’t grow up in a military family, or even if you did, there’s a lot to learn between the acronyms, ranks, events, and job titles. Put the effort into learning everything. It’ll make communication so much easier for you and your spouse. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep up with any conversation between your spouse and their peers, supervisors, and subordinates. Taking an interest and actively participating in your spouse’s life will give you a better understanding of what they experience and all the seemingly ridiculous protocols they must take. Go to the events, meet the people, and be supportive. The more you know, the easier it is.

Military Spouse Life Isn’t for Everyone

It takes a flexible and tolerant person to overcome the nonstop challenges that military families are faced with. While they put their life on the line for our country, you’re sacrificing your personal and professional life on the home front. You’ll have 3-4 different plans that you’ve spent months working out just to abandon them because something came out of left field. Military spouses are strong. Just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean it’s not rewarding.