Finding Hope When Military Life Feels Dreary
There are days when military life feels overwhelming. Maybe you are living in a difficult location, your service member has a challenging job right now, or you are dreading an upcoming move. You could be preparing for a deployment or exhausted from long stretches of solo parenting.
It’s okay to feel frustrated and disappointed with military life sometimes. In those moments, it helps to step back and get a fresh perspective on your situation.
Just as it takes time for the world to emerge from the cold, gray, muddy days of winter to the warm, colorful, flower-filled landscapes of spring, it may also take you some time to warm up to your current situation. You must look for ways to build hope and encouragement into your military life.
Finding hope in a dreary situation isn’t always easy, or obvious. That’s okay — you don’t have to do it alone! Military spouses are an incredibly strong community full of individuals who have faced numerous challenges. If anyone can inspire you to find the silver lining in your current situation, it’s a fellow military spouse. So, let’s do this together.
Encouraging Messages for Military Spouses
In my book, Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses, you’ll find positive messages to meet you right in the dreary middle of common military life challenges. Each letter provides a positive message to help you move forward so you can “open when” you need friendly advice or support.
When military life feels dreary, let the words of a fellow military spouse guide you to a brighter perspective.
- For the military spouse struggling with an upcoming PCS move. No one can make a PCS move feel “easy,” but learning what strategies others have used can help you feel more organized and prepared. “The best way to feel calmer and in more control of your move — even when you don’t know all the details — is to plan ahead … Remember you are a team and the two of you are going to get through this together!”
- For the military family with orders to an “undesirable” location. Every branch has a dreaded duty station that can throw spouses into despair. Even when you don’t have control over PCS orders, remember that you always have options. You get to choose how you react and what activities you pursue at the next assignment. “Military spouses will tell you every assignment is as good as you make it. Sometimes the places we might consider to be the worst are the places where military communities are strongest. You never know what treasures a community holds until you move there and give it a chance.”
- For the military spouse who is solo parenting. Whether your service member is away for deployment, a long training, a required class or a TDY assignment, you may find yourself struggling to manage the kids and the household tasks on your own. Instead of trying to do the work of two parents every day, focus on taking care of yourself and building a support network. “You can’t pour from an empty cup. You are a parent, but you’re a person first, and you need to take care of yourself before you can truly take care of others … There will be days when you simply can’t do it on your own, and it takes a strong person to admit that. I hereby give you permission to share the burden and ask for help.”
- For the military loved one in a long-distance relationship. Military life involves so much waiting and long-distance love! When you’re frustrated by distance, take comfort in knowing many other military couples have faced this same obstacle. That means there are numerous creative ways to work through it. “Your relationship doesn’t need to stand still when you are apart. It can continue to grow and develop … Fill your life with positive people, activities and work you enjoy, so you don’t dwell on the negatives of spending time apart … The distance between you is painful right now, but you can do this!”
- For the military spouse facing a long deployment. Deployments are an enormous challenge, and everyone has bad days sometimes. Getting through deployment takes more than simply being strong or keeping busy. Instead, focus on the people and activities that give you strength and encouragement when you need them most. “Deployments will challenge you in every possible way. Some days you will want to break down and cry, and that may be just what you need. Feeling alone magnifies all the struggles of deployment, so it’s essential to have someone to talk to. Interaction and connection will help you feel less alone — because you are not alone — and ready to handle the deployment days ahead.”
Whatever challenges you are facing, military spouse, remember that you are always part of a larger community of military loved ones. We all face dreary days and frustrating setbacks. But together, we can help each other through them!