Before I met my husband I liked to think I was relatively in tune with who I was as a person. Fun fact: I wasn’t. At all.
Marrying the military (because let’s face it, your relationship with the Army ends up being more demanding than the relationship with your spouse) taught me a lot about myself and better still, inspired me take a good hard look at my weaknesses and change a little.
Change? Yeah, yeah. “A leopard never changes his spots”, “once a …. , always a ….” and all those other bitter, overused phrases. Well I call BS on that. I think people are so conditioned into thinking that change or personal growth is beyond the realm of attainability that they have become utterly relentless in their views. Well sorry Mr. Pessimist but personal growth is a realistic and achievable concept! If we’re the first to point out someone changing in a negative sense, why can’t we acknowledge the positive?
5 Ways Military Life Changes You
Are you someone like me who likes to have a plan? You are? Great. Well forget it. In the military it’s almost impossible to plan the time you can sit down to dinner let alone a date or a trip away. All this is dependent on your significant others’ particular job of course but in this life flexibility is a must. Having a vision of what you want to do is fine but carefully executed plans rarely come to fruition which often leads to disappointment. Some people fly by the seat of their pants and are perfectly fine living day to day. I, however, like to plan things to a tee and unfortunately to cope with this, it is often best for me to fear the worst case scenario rather than feel deflated, daily. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and probably not the healthiest coping mechanism but I’ve found myself a lot less disappointed and better again, a lot less angry.
If your service member is a ‘lifer’ (20+ year military career) then it is a given that you will probably move tens of times throughout your marriage. No mean feat! Even if you are associated with the military for a short time then the chances of living in three or four different places is realistic. Moving so often is NOT easy, aside from the usual moving headaches it creates obstacles concerning the education of your children, the length of your career (or if you’ll even be able to have one), the quality of your relationships to name but a few. You’ve got to be able to pack up and move your life in a very short time period and there’s also the possibility of a short-notice deployment in which you very suddenly find yourself spouse-less and/or a single mother for many months.
It’s pretty obvious from what I’ve mentioned above that being strong isn’t a choice in the military. It’s an absolute necessity.
We’re all human though. Do we have ridiculous moments of weakness where we cry in our driveways because it’s late at night, the dog has stepped in his own poop and is so terrified of the hose you’re trying to wash his paw with so unsuccessfully that you then think he’s choking because you’re pulling so hard on his collar to get him to STAY STILLLLLLLL and you only have two hands?
Yes that happens. Or so someone told me….
The harder my life has become as a result of being involved with the military, the greater the appreciation I have for everything, really. My surroundings, my family, my friends, all of the wonderful things I am fortunate to have like my own home and the ability to travel extensively. It changes your view of what matters. Being grateful for the smallest things is a blessing that comes from the darker moments when you feel the worst you ever have in your whole life.
Knowing What’s Important
None of us are invincible, this we know but military life is sobering. The value of supportive family and friends is a lesson learned immediately. Most people on any military installation are nowhere near their families and so friends become just as important. Not having a support system nearby is extremely tough and the friends you will make along your military journey can be friends for life. On the other hand, military towns can be some of the trashiest and most dramatic places you will find yourself. Unless you’re that way inclined, stay out of this. It will do nothing for your happiness and you won’t find friends or genuine support in these people. I highly recommend making new friends but thread carefully until you’re comfortable trusting them.
Being the spouse of a service member undoubtedly changes you. I simultaneously love and hate every second of this journey but if given the choice, I wouldn’t change a thing. It truly is the making of who I am.