Celebrate National Spouses Day Every Day

January, compared to the months surrounding it, seems to be missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. We have the December holidays, where at every turn, there’s an opportunity to be kind to one another, do good deeds and spoil our favorite people. Then there’s Valentine’s Day in February, when we get to do it all over again. Between all the flowers, candy and dinner reservations, there’s no doubting that your spouse loves and appreciates you. But where is the opportunity to spread the love in January?

Luckily, calendar printers, greeting card people, florists and chocolatiers of the world huddled up, and National Spouses Day was born on January 26.

What is National Spouses Day?
National Spouses Day is all about expressing how much you love and appreciate your spouse – without having to budget more money for gifts. It is intended to be more about time and attention, so you can save the splurging for the holidays and focus solely on spending the day with your spouse. A designated day of time and attention for your spouse sounds wonderful, in theory. Put the phones down, turn off the television and make plans together to do absolutely nothing except enjoy each other’s company. But what happens when National Spouses Day is over? Do you wake up January 27 and go back to the way things were on January 25?

If you’re saving all the time and attention for just one out of 365 days, then you might be missing out on one of the most special parts of your relationship. Time and attention happen every day in a marriage, often in the subtlest of ways, but it takes effort – especially in those early years when you’re still figuring each other out (and wondering why you even registered for a hamper when your spouse seems to only throw dirty clothes on the floor).

The Military Clause
If those hamper-adjacent clothes are PT gear, cammies, or flight suits, you get that one more celebration on the calendar is just potential for another significant day spent apart thanks to training, duty or deployment.

Military spouses and service members also understand (arguably more than any other audience) the need to show every day that their husbands and wives are loved and appreciated, especially because so much of this life is uncertain. Schedules slide to the right. Things pop up unexpectedly. And unfortunately, the unthinkable can happen.

Because of this, we know better than to save our appreciation for a single day in January. When you love someone, you tell them. You show them. You don’t wait, you don’t pause. Though it doesn’t always come with long-stem roses, diamonds or swanky restaurants, spouse love is unfailing and real. The hugs are sometimes rushed in the morning. We regularly mutter less than lovely things under our breath while we pick up their slack (or laundry or dishes), but we know we wouldn’t do that for anyone else. Sometimes emotions arrive via text, email or a care package. But, they are there any and every day possible.

So, if you’re reading this and looking across the room at your spouse – or daydreaming of that picture-perfect homecoming – make the plan, send the text or make the call. Cuddle more, talk longer, give more time to each other and less to social media. Play a board game. Take a trip. Help and encourage each other, and do it every day, the best you can. Because you don’t need a designated National Spouses Day to show them you care; it isn’t worth the wait.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

I spent the first 21 years of my life wearing the title of “military brat” proudly. Fast forward a few years, and I’ve traded in that title for a new one – “military spouse.” When I was a child, I moved 12 times. This meant a dozen new addresses to memorize, a dozen new sets of friends while learning my way around a new school and setting up a dozen different bedrooms, all before I even went to college.

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Making the Most of Military OneSource During Transition

My husband and I have reached “dinosaur age” in terms of life in the military. At the 20-year mark, we decided to stick around as long as the Marine Corps would have us, and we’re now in that period of military life where we live vicariously through others as they sail off into civilian life. We gather little bits about the transition process from each of our friends as they move on and file the information away for when it’s our turn.

But retirement is not the only road to civilian life. Many service members also decide early in their careers that four years is enough, or they choose to transition out of the military for other reasons, like a fantastic job offer or a different kind of stability for the kids. Regardless of how transition happens, it is inevitable for all of us. These past few weeks, I spent time talking with transitioning military families about how Military OneSource resources helped them during their transition, and here’s what they found most helpful.

  • NEW: 365 days of coverage. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense announced that service members and their families are now eligible to receive full access to Military OneSource for one year after separating from active-duty service. This is a change from the previous 180-day coverage and a big win during a very stressful time in a service member’s career.
  • SECO Career and Education Resources. The Spouse Career and Education Opportunities, or SECO, program offers so much to transitioning spouses. The tools on the MySECO website have helped families find information on jobs in their new area, as well as potential career and education paths, and offers hundreds of resources about everything from choosing a school to starting their own business. Spouses can work with a career counselor on any number of coaching packages designed to help them meet their goals. Also new this year, like their service members, spouses are now eligible for one year of LinkedIn Premium as their service member transitions to civilian life. (Side note: you can now get LinkedIn Premium after a PCS, too!) For more information on all the SECO program has to offer, visit https://www.myseco.militaryonesource.mil.
  • Transition Benefits and Resources on Military OneSource. Even though spouses are eligible to attend the Career Transition Seminar at their local installation, many spouses find the Separation and Transition section of the Military OneSource website a great place to start to learn about benefits and resources. The site is a starting point for education benefits, healthcare and medical, service-connected disability resources, life insurance coverage and much more. Let Military OneSource work for you by finding the links to the sites you need in one convenient place, https://www.militaryonesource.mil/separation-transition.
  • Moving Tools. Military OneSource makes it easy to connect to moving resources as your service member transitions. The Moving Resources section on the website serves as a hub of tools and website links dedicated to ensuring you won’t spend hours searching for everything you’ll need for that last move. Visit https://www.militaryonesource.mil/moving-housing/moving/moving-resources.
  • Budgeting Tools. Planning and budgeting for life outside of the military can be one of the most challenging realities families face as they transition to civilian life. Having a good handle on your future living expenses and what money you will need during transition can make the transition much more comfortable. The Personal Finance Resources section of Military OneSource provides critical information about benefits, taxes, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and offers calculators to help you plan for transition. Visit https://www.militaryonesource.mil/personal-finance-resources for more details.

When speaking with families, the one universal truth that seemed to come up over and over was this: they wish they would have known about all the benefits and services they were eligible for earlier in the process. Don’t wait to start planning for your transition. In addition to the resources mentioned above, Military OneSource offers free counseling, information and referral services for these and many other topics. It takes one call to Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to get started on your next chapter. People are standing by and want to help. All you need to do is ask!

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