Before I became a Military Spouse (Navy wife), I didn’t know, understand, nor care about anything dealing with our military. I respected and supported the sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines and coast guards, but their lives were not in the forefront of my life. And oh, I REALLY DIDN’T get the spouse. Because I mean, she is sitting at home chilling with her family and friends while her significant other is deployed to the middle of the ocean, flying overhead or out in the field. And what the heck does deployed mean anyway? Yes, I was that nonmilitary spouse (although, as I type this I realize I wasn’t a spouse of any kind at that time, but anywho…) that just didn’t understand
These are regular thoughts and words uttered from nonmilitary spouses and family members every day. The truth of the matter is military spouses take on a lot.
You may have watched movies as servicemen leave and their wives are left at home partying it up, or you may even live near a military base and see spouses out laughing and having fun. But what you don’t see is that spouse saying bye, that child walking with the active duty parent (in my case; daddy) hanging on to every last moment, and the unknown. Oh, the unknown is the worse. The unknown of where your spouse is going, when they will be back and when you will hear from them.
I can recall the days of diving for the landline phone knowing it was my husband. Trust me; no one else called that number. The nights of being in a deep sleep and being startled by the phone, knocking my bowl of peanuts into the floor as I fumbled for the phone.
How many times have you packed up and moved across country or better yet, around the world? You have no house, no friends, nothing. Every couple of years your entire life starts over. Your children must make new friends and adjust to a new school. You must stay strong in front of your kids, hold it together as you say, “see you later” to your spouse and be calm while on the phone telling your parents you are about to move across the world.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the military life. During my 14 years of being a Navy wife, I’ve met many nonmilitary spouses that are awesome, and many that don’t understand this lifestyle and that is OK. It’s OK that you don’t get it, but it’s not ok to dismiss our struggles.
Please Know The Following When You Meet Military Spouses
- We are friendly and want to make friends. Smile and say hello to us as we move into our new home. Many times we are tired, we are stressed, and in some situations, our spouses have already deployed. It’s kind of like…”Hey! We’re here, figure it out on your own!” Bam! They are out of dodge. Going to sea, heading to the field, etc. Simply put, they are away for awhile, aka deployed.
- We NEED friends. Invite us to lunch or to hang out to chat.
- Our kids NEED and DESERVE friendships. Yes! They will leave your child in a couple of years. Your child may be sad their friend left. But is it fair to my kid not to make a friend because of their parent’s career? It is difficult for both children with saying good-bye, but it’s also hard for children to go day to day without any friends.
- Many times we don’t have family nor a support system in the local area. Offer to show us the hidden gems of your town. We NEED help. Google is great, but some of us just want to hear a personal experience about a local business, area, school, etc. Be nice, be kind and be patient.
- Learn to listen to our struggles. Each family has their struggles, and each family deals with situations differently. I for one am always happy-go-lucky. But, I also need someone to listen to me. No, you may not understand, but a listening ear is always appreciated.
A Hug and Smile Is Sometimes The Only Thing Needed
When I tell you my struggle of being home alone for months at a time, that is NOT the time to tell me that your spouse went away for a week-long business trip. With this, I have also learned to hush when another wife shares her story about a nine month or year long deployment. Why? Because it’s not the time for me to tell her about my life, it is time for me to listen and show her support.
She needs to vent; she may need a break. Heck, she may need a hug. I PROMISE, when you tell us about your 24 hours or week long home alone adventure, the only thing we hear is ONE WEEK. We don’t hear about your five kids being sick at once, and we don’t hear about the bathroom flooding all within five minutes of one another. All we hear is you telling us your spouse went away for an ONE WEEK conference after sharing with you and crying about the 226th day, 16th hour, 49th minute and 45th second of being alone and worried about our deployed spouse.
We want to hear your story. We do, and we probably can offer you a lot of great advice to survive, BUT we NEED you just to listen. Don’t share, just listen for that moment.
What Can You As A Non-Military Spouse Do When You Meet A Military Spouse
It’s simple. Just smile, be nice, offer assistance when you can and just LISTEN.
Don’t be so quick to respond back to a military spouse with your personal problems. Give us a moment to come back to earth and gather ourselves. We are a bit emotional.
Don’t ask us to compare our previous duty stations with your precious hometown. This never ends well for us. I’m sorry, but we aren’t always excited about heading down to the local spot to see all the “cool” gadgets. Boy oh boy, I’ve gotten myself in trouble numerous times with this. Lol
What This Military Spouse Can Show And Share With You Is This
You see, in the 1st photo as my daughter happily walked with daddy, she didn’t understand that she wouldn’t see him for months. She didn’t understand why she didn’t have all of her things and where they were, nor how long it would take to receive them. Heck, she didn’t even understand the language around her.
I still remember her crawling into my bed at night asking if daddy was coming home. My response was always, “yes, daddy will be home soon.”
Military children don’t understand the hugs and good-byes as their clothes, toys, beds, etc. are packed away and loaded on a truck. As they become older to understand, many don’t want to leave their friends and must adjust to a new life, school, friends, etc.
I hope this tidbit will help you see a bit more into the mind of a military spouse. Everyone has their struggles, and everyone needs support. Just remember that in many situations that military spouse you see laughing and having a great time out in town goes home to an empty house, an upset child and other worries and stressors.
So, if you are blessed to have a military family move next door to you be sure to walk over, introduce yourself and offer assistance.