When you marry an active duty military member, people say you have married the military. Two lives and two worlds suddenly become bonded in more ways than marriage. How do we, as military spouses, hold on to our identity and not become lost within our active duty member’s identity and role?

Neither the Uniform nor the Rank Are Yours

Remember, your spouse joined the military, and you did not. Your spouse wears the rank, and you do not. The military is a career choice. However, it was not yours. We, as spouses, are along for the crazy ride that the military lifestyle entails. You will meet plenty of spouses along the way who take their role as a service spouse quite seriously. Others will not. It is up to you to find what end of the spectrum suits you and your personality.

There are no written rules and job descriptions that come along with being a military spouse. You can do as much or as little as you choose. It is essential to understand what your spouse does, what their job entails, and the unit’s overall culture and morale. In understanding and supporting your spouse, you need not lose yourself, your self-worth, goals, or dreams.

Self-Care is Not Selfish

As spouses, we always need to remember that self-care is not selfish. How can we care for our spouse and family if we do not first take care of ourselves? One way to do so is to remain faithful to ourselves and to recognize our own needs. In doing so, we can ensure we keep our own identity within being a military spouse. We need to value ourselves, goals, education, and careers just as much as we do our spouse’s.

If you can spend time out of the house, use the time wisely to feed your soul. What brings you joy, happiness, satisfaction, and self-fulfillment? The answers to those questions should dictate how you tackle military spouse life. Perhaps you can work on furthering your education. Look into base, unit, local community, and remote employment opportunities. If working isn’t an option, volunteer opportunities abound both within military installations and the local community.

Spend Time Off-Base

Get off base and into the local community to help you remember things outside of the military and your member’s career. There is life outside of the military base. Civilians can provide a wealth of support, resources, and friendship if we work together to bridge the gap between the two worlds. The military often becomes the identity and life of the active duty member. It does not have to become our identity and worth as spouses.

Speak Openly with Your Spouse

Talk openly with your spouse about your military journey alongside their own. Be honest about your feelings, hopes, dreams, and goals. Figure out a way to move forward together to each forge a path to personal satisfaction. Voicing your aspirations will prevent the resentment that is sure to set in if you put yourself and your life on hold to support that of the active duty member.

Yes, we are military spouses. However, we are also unique people with individual needs. Although we have the utmost honor, pride, and respect for the military uniform, we do not wear it ourselves. It is imperative to have just as much dignity and confidence in ourselves as we do in your active duty spouses. Show yourself, your spouse, other military spouses, and the world how independent and successful you can become as a dependent living the military life.



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Sarah Ortiz Benson is a seasoned military spouse and freelance writer with a background in sales, marketing, and nursing. Her passion is writing about current events and issues affecting military spouses and their families.

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