Some wives come into the military fully knowing how “the life” is. Perhaps they grew up in a military home themselves or they’ve just been in-tune with the military community their whole lives. They’ve had friends or relatives who have served, so they’ve seen first hand how it can affect family, friends and relationships. However, I would bet that most of us are just like I was as a new spouse (and to be honest still am) completely unprepared for some of the harsh realties. Oh sure, you understand that there will be deployments. You may even understand there will be considerable time apart. If you are married before they join you get to experience your first separation right away as they ship off to basic training. But to know what is coming and to actually experience it can be two completely different things.
Ebbs and Flows
Some of the things I never prepared for were difficult, but not earth shaking. A PCS for example- permanent change of station, meant leaving behind a home I’d grown accustomed to (and certain household items I rather liked as well, Dear hubby if you’re reading this I’m still upset about those mirrors) but offered the adventure my wander-lust spirit craved. New places, new faces, new experiences for me to soak up. Other things weren’t as noticeable but they were much harder for me to adjust to. Learning the military life, the code, the expectations placed on my husband and therefor our family. The lack of meaningful connections as I searched for friends and wondered- what the heck is a FRG, POA and LES?
Like all things in life there is an ebb and flow to being a military spouse. Some people just seem to find their groove naturally, others- like myself, have to work at it. One thing is certain, while no two experiences are the same, there is a common bond that we ALL share in those experiences. My husband has a saying that he coined from some rather rugged looking gentlemen on a deployment once. They referred to themselves as “A jack of all trades, but master of none.” So we spouses too have to be a jack of all trades in our own lives.
We can become proficient in packing up for a PCS (I know now that I prefer to do a half-DITY so that items i’d like to save *ahem* like mirrors, won’t get lost) but at the same time feel frustration at being in one place for too long. We can understand the acronyms and abbreviations but still not understand why SPECIFIC POA’s have to be given just so that bills can get paid on time, or the registration renewed on your deployed husbands vehicle. Then, just when you think you’ve finally got everything mastered and you’re rolling along in life BAM, the Army just rolls right a long all over you.
So don’t be discouraged, whether you are new to this life or are nearing the end of your time of service to our military community. Life is sure to have bumps a long the way and there’s no guarantee of a smooth road. When you’re feeling like your world is getting rocked harder than basic trainees during mortar practice, look back on where you’ve been and try to find the positive, the good and the blessings in disguise. Maybe it’s a friend when you didn’t think you’d find anyone to connect to. Maybe it’s an unexpected weekend away with your spouse courtesy of a Strong Bonds retreat. Whatever it is, cling to that and the knowledge that spouses before you and many to come after you have been through it all too. It’s frustrating and disheartening at times. Yet, there’s comfort in knowing that with time, things will right themselves. Life will get back to its normal flow. The resiliency you’ve obtained (or are obtaining) will allow you to pick yourself up and learn something new about this life. You’ll make connections, share stories and realize that their experiences aren’t all that different from your own. You become a jack of all trades, but master of none.
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