Man sitting with dog on dock

Pre-orders Conversations


I regularly tease my husband about living in a little place I like to call Hypothetical Land. I justifiably tease him because I’ll be in the middle of cooking dinner, loading the dishwasher and answering work emails with a baby on my hip when he decides he’d like to discuss the floor plan of our currently non-existent retirement house. Teasing is definitely in order.

So, it’s a little out of my realm of comfort to dive into those deep and often hypothetical conversations that happen before orders are cut, before the wish list is written or before even meeting with the monitor.

This is the time for voicing opinions. It’s the time for supporting your spouse’s career. But it’s also the one and only slightly influential moment you have to be the advocate for your family and your own needs (understanding, of course, that we may or may not get what we want when orders are cut).

We’ve talked the issue to death recently, and for once I’m just kind of neutral. I’m up for an adventure, but I won’t be upset with the same old thing. Maybe I’m finally ready for my Semper Gumby merit badge.

Whatever the Marine Corps decides is in store for us this go-round, I know that I’ve made my points. My husband has made his, and we’re ready for the next chapter, whatever it may be.

As you and your family gear up for these hypothetical conversations, I encourage you to focus on the following:

  1. What is best for your family? My husband is a true family man. I’m proud that he considers his family’s needs and not just his own career aspirations. As you approach these conversations about your family’s future, make sure that topics like your kids’ education, safety and family time are taken into account.
  2. What is best for your service member’s career? Especially for the service member in it for the long haul, consider the move that is career-advancing. It may not always be the most glamorous or the most ideal in the short run, but sometimes a sacrifice is due to get you (or your service member) to the end result in mind.
  3. What is best for your own career? Military spouses are a diverse bunch with goals of our own. While it’s next to impossible to call the shots during the hurry up and wait period, you can contribute your two cents as it affects your career. Would a certain location help you advance? Are you indifferent? Either way, make it known to help your service member better understand what your expectations are.
  4. What would be new and exciting? Old and familiar is safe, but it isn’t necessarily exciting. We’ve moved from my hometown in Texas to North Carolina and back to my hometown. As much as I would welcome another trip to Carolina, I’m also open to an adventure! It’s important to realize that this is a chance to experience world culture for our families and ourselves. Ideas that are initially intimidating can lead to some of the most memorable stories for your family and priceless experiences for your kids.

Not only discussing these topics, but giving them weight can help you narrow down what is best for your family. Maybe your kids aren’t in school yet, so education isn’t a huge factor. Maybe you’re coming up on a crucial period for your service member’s career, so career may have more weight in the discussion.

No matter where we land next, we know it’s temporary, so it’s worth it to approach each duty station with an open mind. Welcome new experiences and unexpected adventures. I hope that the next place the military sends you will be a place you’ll one day speak of fondly. After all, it was home for a little while.

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