My husband and I met at a wedding in the Midwest, and it was awesome…
It was awesome right until his leave was over, and he had to return to the east coast where he was stationed. We spent several years long distance before finally moving to the same city together.
One of my most vivid military memories is flying down to the east coast where he lived to see his home for the first time. I had never seen a military town or base before in my life. It definitely took some getting used to.
So it’s no surprise that when I first became a military wife there was a huge learning curve. From deployments to power of attorney to basic rights and resources of spouses, I was clearly clueless. I’m so thankful that other spouses and my husband helped me grow some fabulous military spouse wings over the last couple of years.
If you are new military wife, I completely relate to what you are going through. It’s still fresh in my mind, and there are still many days when military life feels overwhelming. Learning the ins and outs of military life takes time, and even the most seasoned military spouses still feel lost at times.
Here are 43 awesome tips and pieces of advice I received over the past few years that can help make military life for the new military wife oh-so-much better:
- Continue to pursue your own needs, wants, desires, and goals. Military life has a way of overshadowing all of your own goals and aspirations. Remember to prioritize to yourself to prevent burn out in the long run. Find a passion or a hobby that you can take with you wherever you go.
- Enjoy where you are. You can spend 3 years miserable or 3 years happy. Even if you are in the middle of the California dessert with almost no one around, you have to find a way to be happy. Military life is filled with ups and downs and the only way to survive is to find the best in every situation.
- Seek out mentors. Support will make all the difference in the world. Many times you will have to ask for it, and that’s okay. Seek out a more seasoned military spouse and ask for help, support and guidance. Most are more than willing to help because they’ve all been there.
- Learn your resources and benefits. Know what military programs are available to you as a military wife and use them. If you don’t use your resources, they will start to dwindle away. Know your healthcare, retirement and other spouse benefits.
- Find a deployment buddy. It’s nearly impossible to survive deployment without at least one listening ear.
- Take it easy on yourself. It’s okay if you feel overwhelmed or are struggling sometimes. It’s completely normal. There is no super military spouse out there who handles all of this perfectly.
- Mentor other military spouses. Once you feel comfortable as a new military wife, take other spouses under your wing and mentor them. They will love you for it.
- Get involved and volunteer. Getting involved in your military community is a great way to build relationships. And it’s important to network and connect, so you have support when you really need it.
- Military spouses are your biggest asset. Civilian friends are awesome, but there is no one who understands the challenges of military life more than a fellow military spouse. Befriend as many as possible.
- Go out of your way to meet people. When you are the one moving all the time and living far from family, it is often up to you to initiate new relationships in your life. Doing your best to put yourself out there can really go a long way.
- Military marriages are a lot of work. Marriage is hard work period. Throw in the challenges of military life, and marriage becomes a whole new ball game. Make your military marriage a priority to keep it strong.
- Value, respect and support your spouse. As much as you need support from your husband, he needs you too.
- Deployment is an opportunity for growth. Sure deployments aren’t always peaches and cream, but there is a upside to everything. Find the positive in the negative. Deployments are a great opportunity to focus and invest in yourself.
- Homecomings are tough. Sometimes learning to reconnect after deployment and be a family again is the hardest part about being separated. It’s okay if it doesn’t go the way you hope. It’s completely normal for homecomings to feel challenging.
- Prepare to live far from family. More often than not, this is the case for most military wives. The good thing is that the military spouse community is very supportive, and you will find your own little ‘family’ everywhere you go. Fingers-crossed.
- Prepare to move a lot. While it is challenging moving often, it is also an opportunity to enjoy new adventures that you would’ve never experienced otherwise! Use this handy PCS checklist to help you through!
- Plan ahead for everything. Things tend to run smoother when plans are in place.
- Expect none of your plans to actually happen. Military life changes at a moment’s notice. Expect plans to change.
- Stay faithful to your spouse. This probably seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many spouses I actually knew (yes, personally) who fell into a dark trap while there husband was deployed. Be smart, make wise choices, and be faithful to your husband.
- Cut your spouse some slack. Military life can feel equally overwhelming to a military service member as well.
- Know that having kids in military life is different than in civilian life. It is simply a different facet to raising children. You will have to explain why daddy is gone for work so much and help them cope through the challenging emotions that come with separation.
- Making friends is harder in some ways. Friends are always coming and going, in addition to your hometown friends living far away. This can put a strain on building close friendships every time you move.
- Making friends is easier in some ways. Because everyone is in the same boat, it is sometimes easier to make friends.
- Strategize how you will best cope with deployment. Discover what works well for you during deployment. Does going back to your hometown help? Does taking on several extra hobbies help? Does eating chocolate under the covers help? Nah, I’m probably the only one eating candy bars in bed.
- Learn the lingo. Learning the bazillion acronyms of the military does make life easier.
- Know how to find support and help. Utilize Facebook groups, military websites, community pages, your family readiness officer, and military wife blogs to gain support in your area. Join mom groups if you are a mom or participate in other hobby groups in your community to build a network.
- There will be many milestones missed. Unfortunately, it’s really common for military service members to miss birthdays, holidays, milestones, and even weddings and the birth of a child.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to be a perfect spouse. If you have bad days, we’re all right there with ya.
- Prepare for the possibility of death, injury and PTSD. As much as I hate saying this, it is important to prepare for anything that could happen. There’s no way to prepare entirely, but learning about what to expect if faced with a serious situation helps.
- Keep all the legal stuff in order. Wills, power of attorney, life insurance…all good things to have completed correctly and in a safe in your home.
- Your attitude is everything. Staying positive will help immensely.
- Memorize important numbers. Memorize your husband’s phone number, work number, social security number, etc. It makes life easier.
- PDA is prohibited when a service member is in uniform. It’s a rule apparently.
- Walk on the left side when your spouse is in uniform. This enables him to have his right arm free to salute.
- Refer to all your husband’s superiors as Sir unless told otherwise. Just good military etiquette.
- Take good care of your military ID. Never post, email, text, or mail a picture of it.
- Never mention anything related to training or deployment on social media. The ultimate goal is to protect your husband and your family. Keeping information secret that needs to be secret is important.
- Learn about base pay and special allowances. If you are married, financial transparency is really important. You both need to know where the money is coming from and going to.
- Familiarize yourself with your base and duty station. Finding your way as a military spouse is all about knowing how to get around your community helps immensely.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Keep the communication lines open with your spouse. Read books on how to improve communication in your marriage if you need to.
- Don’t blink. It all really does go by so incredibly fast. In 5 years, you’ll look back and wonder how you ever got through it. You’ve got this!
- Be flexible. Learning to adapt to change is your best military life survival skill!
- Know you’re not alone. It might seem like the road less traveled, but there’s 1.2 million of us to be exact. And we are all in this together!
Want more on military life?
- The Real Reason Being a Military Wife is So Hard
- 9 Relationship Truths Only a Modern Military Spouse Would Understand
- Military Girlfriend to Military Life: One Lesson You’ll Never Forget
- 7 Things Good Military Spouses Do…That I’m Not Going to Do Anymore
What’s your best tip for a new military wife? Let’s chat in the comments!