As a military spouse, discouragement comes easy. We deal with deployment extensions, constant moves, and a job pool dryer than the Sahara. It’s all baked into the cake. Amidst all the stuff that’s easy to hate, can there really be things to love about military life? We present to you a challenge: consider all of the good and beautiful things about it. In our focus on the inconvenient and dissatisfying, we miss out on amazing things that most of the civilian population will never get to experience. The fact is, that with every extraordinary challenge we face, comes an advantage equal in magnitude. Focus in on these four things to love about military life.
Growth Through Adversity
“Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” -Stephen Covey.
At a snail’s pace, we drive down a base road lined with 50s-era brick buildings. You pull over, your spouse and all the gear come spilling out. A hug, a kiss, a goodbye. You get back into the car, holding back tears, and then you drive home, heartbroken. You don’t know how you’re going to make it through this.
But then you do. How? Because in battling through a trial, meeting every challenge along the way, you are molded into a better version of yourself. In other words, in the beginning, you can’t see yourself making it through to the end because you’re not yet who you’ll be at the finish line. When you do finally make it, you’ll have leveled-up in confidence, self-reliance, and personal discipline. In military life, we are tested, and sometimes fail, but each trial is an incredible catalyst for growth. And you’ll learn to go with the flow too. Semper Gumby isn’t the milspouse creed for nothing.
Unique Living Opportunities
When a recruiter sells the “opportunity to travel,” they’re not lying. Active duty military families have the opportunity to live in many different places. Some of which will seem like three-year vacations, while others…not so much. Either way, the special connections you’ll make at each duty station always make it hard to leave when time is up! Living in multiple locations also opens you up to new ideas, and makes you a more well-rounded individual. You’ll be amazed by the way a place that once felt so foreign and mysterious can so quickly feel like home!
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A Big Brand-New Family
Being a military family is weird. Well, at the least it’s quite rare. Less than 0.5% percent of the US population are members of the active duty military, but actuully they tend to put us all in the same couple of spots, i.e. military installations. In these places, we can take respite in one another. We understand the struggle because we are all living it.
More than just friendships, we create whole second families where your best mom-buddies and their kids are more like aunts and cousins than anything. Why does this happen? Well, we move far from extended family and start confronting trials right away. Our military friends stand in the gaps left by deployed spouses and we are happy to return the favor. Need a cup of milk? We’ll be right over. Does your car need a jump? We can figure out how to do that together! Want us to be your birth coach? Hold this coffee. That’s how life-long bonds are formed.
You’ll Beam With Pride
There’s sometimes an awkward exchange that happens when you personally receive a kind “thank you for your service” from a well-meaning citizen. It always feels just a bit uncomfortable. You think, “Well, I’m not serving. They are.” But looking a bit deeper, isn’t the spouse serving too? In a way, yes. We give up time with our loved ones – a lot of it – which we can never get back. In reality, we are giving them up completely, body and soul, in service to the country. An entire piece of our heart may never return to us. And guiltily, we would probably keep them safely at home if we could, but nevertheless, they go. We swell with pride for what they’re willing to offer the world, and if we’re honest, we’re a bit proud of ourselves too for the small role we play as supportive spouses.
For this, our grateful nation shows it’s appreciation in the form of many perks available to families like ours. The wonders of Tricare health coverage, tons of military discounts, and the blessing of free education through the GI Bill, just to name a few. While no one faces the trials of war for cheap commissary groceries or free museum visits, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of these wonderful, earned benefits of military life.
While there will always be hard things, like there never is a good time to have a kid, and endless workups and training, there are also plenty of things to love about military life.
Before “embracing the suck” try to focus on the positives (did we forget to mention the uniforms?!) and embrace joy!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Embracing the Introverted Military Spouse
Photo Credit: Marisa Mcdonald Photography