I’ve been married three years and had the honor of being an Army spouse. May 12th was Military Spouse Appreciation Day. I am incredibly grateful to be a part of such an incredible group of women and men.
With that said, here are few things I’ve learned that every Army spouse has:
1. A Love-Hate Relationship with Pockets and Velcro
That’s right. My husband’s work clothes (“uniform”) have no less than 9 pockets – on the jacket alone. So when it comes to doing laundry, I make a point to ask him to empty the pockets before they go in the laundry basket. I can’t even FIND all the things in his uniforms. Pockets with zippers and flaps and velcro – it’s too much.
I love the pockets because he can fit more things on his person than I can fit in a big purse. It’s pretty handy. And soldiers ALWAYS have a pen to share. But when one rogue pen or sharpie gets left in there and the uniform goes in the wash – all bets are off.
When you become a spouse, this is one of those “must haves” for success. Shortly after beginning to go on dates I had to quickly learn the necessity of being flexible. If you’re ever in the market to date or become friends with a soldier just know that plans are ALWAYS subject to change. For a scheduler and planner like myself, this was hard. But once I realized it was the way of the Army, I was forced to adapt.
It is a regular occurrence to cancel plans with friends last minute due to Army scheduling changes. Or even last night, my husband was needed for overnight duty, so he didn’t come home until the morning. It’s a way of life, and it is completely normal within the military community.
3. The Means and Know-How to Make Big Life Decisions [Alone]
Your husband’s gone? Your car is broke? Your bills have to be paid? Medical needs? Kids to care for? Army spouses handle it all. And yet, it’s these same spouses that go above and beyond to serve others when their lives are in general chaos. It amazes me what these spouses can do. They’re fierce. They have babies with their husbands gone. They can move across the country with little notice. They can say goodbye for months on end, and then do it again a few short months after their soldier’s return.
They move their households. They can research like you wouldn’t believe. They know all the tips and tricks of the trade. And if they don’t know the answer, they know someone who does – and will pass out numbers of friends without question.
Which brings me to my fourth point.
4. The [forced] Ability to Make New Friends Quickly
When you move to a new place knowing you could possibly only be there for less than a year or a few short years, it can be easy to not want to make friends. When I moved into this community my husband had already been here a year. We have yet to move and start over in a new place as a married couple. This move coming up will be the first time we’ve moved together.
I’ve learned so much watching women move into this community and seeing how they get involved and begin forming relationships quickly. There is an understanding that no one has a lot of time when the Army moves them. The response I’ve seen to that reality is to jump in quickly to make friends. I love that. I’ve made some incredible friends here, and I am eager to meet new friends at our next duty station.
5. An Opportunity to Run a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Army life can easily be defined by a series of short time spurts, typically revolving around deployments and moves. There is a tendency to think of life according to the Army’s timeline. To define things and make plans solely in light of the timeline the Army gives to us. We can become fixated on the next thing, instead of thinking of the big picture.
Understandably, deployments and moving require planning and significant decisions to be made. The problem is when we begin see that next duty station or pending deployment as what defines what is good or bad about life. We put our hope into our circumstances and not in God.
We have the chance to view the challenges of time apart from our solider and changes to where we live as positive opportunities for growth. We don’t have to define our lives within these confines. We can “walk by faith” into unknowns with hope for the future, for the long-term.
Every Army spouse has this choice to make: to see the circumstances of life and live with eternity in mind (the marathon), or to be fixated on managing the timeline the Army gives to you (the sprint).
I have been able to learn from some amazing spouses over the past few years, but I am always eager to learn more.
What have you learned as an Army spouse? What qualities have you seen in Army spouses?