The military has changed over the years, and with that, so have the people who make up military families. The term “military spouse” encompasses such a diverse group of people with a variety of genders, values, goals and ideas.
I am a National Guard spouse and have never really considered myself a traditional military spouse because the military has never been front and center in our lives. We don’t move around, he doesn’t wear a uniform every day, we have never lived on a base and up until recently, he had never deployed. The military always existed in the background of our lives. I worked hard on my career while my husband transitioned to being a stay-at-home dad. This is the only lifestyle we’ve ever known.
While we all have our own unique circumstances, there are a few things that ring true for almost all of us military spouses:
- Our soldiers are passionate about the military. We’re along for the ride through command decisions, new uniform regulations, promotions and recognitions. Throughout the process, we learn to share the same passion that they feel for the work they’re doing – and get really good at giving words of encouragement.
- Caring for the uniforms is a process. Make sure you check every single pocket for pens before you wash them – our soldiers love to hide things in all their little pockets. Folding and ironing them is a whole other blog post, but let’s just say that caring for them is harder than anyone warned me it would be.
- There are so many acronyms. I once discovered that the term my husband used for something was an acronym of an acronym! Google will be an incredible resource to keep up with your soldier.
- You will learn to solo-parent quickly. Whether it’s for one weekend, a month or a year-long deployment, we often find ourselves solo-parenting. I’ve gotten really good at juggling the baby, cooking dinner and attempting to speak logically to my six-year-old – simultaneously.
Whatever shape or tenure military life takes for you, just know that someone, somewhere is going through the same things as you. The military has a lot of manuals and handbooks, but they don’t have one for military spouses. And that’s okay – we can make one together as we go.