Marriage sounds like a dream to most people. Sleeping next to your spouse every night. Waking up to them every morning. Cooking dinner together. Someone to go grocery shopping and watch Netflix with. Owning a home and settling down. But being a military wife changes the picture.
It’s more like, not seeing or speaking to your husband for days or even months at a time. Being a single parent more often than not. Doing all the grocery shopping, cleaning and errands alone. And moving every few years, wherever you get sent.
Yeah, being a military wife is different. It makes marriage and family life even harder. So when you are preparing to be married to a military man, there are some things you should know to keep in mind.
10 Things To Know About Being A Military Wife
There are a lot of things that you should really keep in mind when preparing to be a military wife. Things about the lifestyle that other people won’t really know about. And definitely won’t understand. The kind of relationship that survives the military lifestyle is the strongest there is. Making sure to be prepared for these 10 things will help to make sure that your relationship is one of the strongest so that it can survive.
1. You’ll Be Lonely Sometimes
No matter where you are stationed, your husband will be gone sometimes. It may be for a few days, weeks, or months. And even if he isn’t, every time he leaves, you are doing things alone. Planning meals, running errands, dropping children off places. You will have to find friends every time you move. And probably not be anywhere near family.
So you will continuously be alone. At children’s events and parent-teacher conferences. You’ll be taking the time to handle any issues that pop up. At the bank, kids school, insurance companies, utilities, around the house. It’s hard. And you’ll have to do it alone. It’s something you have to accept about being a military wife.
2. Your Husband’s Job Will Always Come First
Your husband’s job is the most important thing in his life. He is protecting your country and all the freedoms that it gives all of its citizens. He is protecting every person in the country every day. And when he signed on that dotted line, he agreed to lay down anything necessary, up to and including, his life. Because he believes in the country and wants to protect people.
But you know all of this. What you have to remember is that when he actually puts it first, you can’t blame him for it.
He will miss important milestones. Whether it is your anniversary, a child’s birthday, the holiday season, or the birth of one of your children. He will miss it. He won’t want to, but he will. And you will feel upset about it.
Remember not to take it out on him when he misses things. Or when you have to miss a big work meeting to pick up a sick child from school because he can’t leave work. His job comes before yours. It always will. The same way it will come before just about anything else you can imagine.
But his job also gives your family everything it has. You just have to remember it.
3. You Can Still Have A Career
So this ties in with the last one. Your husband’s job always comes first. But being a military wife does not mean you can’t have things you want too.
You can still go to school and get a degree. Schooling can be done online for a lot of degrees. Anything that needs to be done in person, you can schedule when you are able. And there are programs that work specifically with military wives because they understand their situations.
You can still have a thriving career. If you start work with a company that is large enough, you can put in transfers when you relocate. Another option is to start your own business that you can do from wherever you go.
This was one thing that I struggled with because I gave up a job that I loved when we got married. And now, 2 years later, I have figured out what I want to do. And after a long time working on it I am starting to really believe that I can be successful. And as an extra plus, I am getting to do something I’ve always loved, but never thought I could do anything with. Write.
So take what your passions are, and use them to give yourself the career that works with your lifestyle. And live the life you want while being a military wife.
4. You Won’t Get To Decide Where You Live
Despite common beliefs of some people who have never lived the military lifestyle, you will not have that much say in where they send you. Yes, you get to put together a dream sheet. You can ask for anything you want. They will even give you a list to work from!
But if you put together 10, 30, or even 50 locations you’d like, you may still get number 50. Or even something you didn’t even put on the list. And when you get to your new home, you may hate it. But there is nothing you can do about it. You have to make the best out of where you are located. Because you can’t change it. It’s part of being a military wife.
For my family, we only have a few locations that we can go each transfer. This is due to my husband’s rate and my son’s heart condition. We only have about 15 locations to chose from each time total. So if only 1 of them is actually available, we have to go there. Whether we want to or not. So trust me, I get this one more than most!
We recently bought our first home at our new location. And we did it from the opposite coast, without ever having been to the area before. We did it because we pay less on our mortgage than we would in rent for something smaller and less updated. So for our family, it was the best decision. If you are trying to figure out how to do it too, check out How To Buy A House Before You See It.
5. You Will Make A Lot Of Sacrifices
There are so many things you will give up being a military wife. Anything from being near family, to a job you love. The list is honestly endless. I’ve given up a lot of things. But I got my family from it.
You won’t always be able to keep the same job, or easily find one in a new place. You won’t be able to stay with your friends. Or your family. Your kids will also have to change schools. And they may take it out on you. You will also have to miss family gatherings back home, or go to them sans your husband.
It’s just something that you will have to get used to.
One of the biggest sacrifices I made was giving up a job I loved and excelled at to become a stay at home mom with our kids, and spend more time with my husband. Just because it was a sacrifice, doesn’t mean I regret it. Check out Stay At Home Mom (The Hardships) to read more about that change in my life.
6. You Will Be The Main Support System For Your Husband
As hard as being a military wife is, it’s not easy for your husband either. He has to worry about everything at work. Working on advancement. Feeling like the wellness of your family is on his shoulders. Worrying about passing the PT test or making weight. There are a lot of things he has to worry about too.
Just remember to support him too. He also needs help. You two are only in this together. No one else will understand your unique story. And you both need to be there for each other continuously throughout your relationship. And it is even more true when your husband is in the military.
My husband and I had to be strong together when our son was diagnosed with heart disease. And we were told he need open heart surgery. It was exactly one month from diagnosis to surgery. And we had no idea what to expect because even the doctors were not sure exactly what the issue was. No one else knows exactly what that is like. Because it is unique to just us. But rather than deal with it alone, we leaned on each other and got through it together. And today, our son is doing wonderfully. Our family is incredibly lucky.
Lean on each other. And make sure you remember you are his main support system. And if you need to, remind him that he is yours.
7. You’ll Make Friends, Then You’ll Leave
When you get to a new place you will likely know no one. Eventually, sometimes after weeks, sometimes months, you’ll make new friends. And then either they will leave. Or you will. And you’ll have to start from scratch. Again.
You may not have a great time moving so often. Leaving your friends from growing up. And then over and over again.
But you will always make new friends. And settle into the new place. And until you do, you have your family. Start with other military wives. Branch out into hobbies you enjoy. That way you will find people with similar interests. And eventually you’ll find the people you want in your life. And who knows, maybe you’ll be stationed together again later on!
8. You Will Have To Find New Ways To Communicate
When your spouse is gone for half the year or more, you’ll have to communicate in ways that are not the norm anymore. That may be writing letters and waiting for snail mail. Or email every once in a while with your husband only responding every few days or weeks. It won’t specifically be in person, through text, or on the phone.
And when you are in person, you have to be open and honest. Don’t play games or beat around the bush. If something is wrong, tell your husband. And encourage him to tell you too. When he is leaving, you need to be on good terms. You also want to make sure that you are both staying honest at all times when it comes time to move. You may have an opinion on where you want to go and not want to voice it because your husband has talked about other places. But be honest because you may both actually want the same thing and not know it until one of you says something!
9. You Will Want To Quit Sometimes
Some days can be overwhelming. When everything is going wrong and you have abandoned your plans A-D and are now watching plan E fail. Then noticing that maybe you need to go back to plan A again. It can be exhausting and emotional.
It can make you want to quit. And that’s alright.
When that happens, turn to your husband. Be upset about it together. Talk to other military wives, they’ve been through it too. And if you need to, go ahead and cry.
The last time we moved, we got our list about 4 weeks before we were supposed to be moving. Then at less than 2 weeks out we FINALLY got official orders. It was a complete mess. We were trying to plan travel across the country for our move, as well as buy a house at what was supposed to be our new station. Plus scheduling movers in the middle of July is totally ridiculous. It sure made me learn the back ropes to military movers anyway.
It can be a complete mess. But you’ll get through it. And eventually you’ll be at your new location and get settled and it will all be a distant memory. It is a learning experience. Take it for what it is and move on from it.
10. For The Right Person, It Is Worth It
All of the things that you have to sacrifice and deal with being a military wife can be exhausting. It sure is for me. But at the end of the day, I love my husband. And I wouldn’t give up my family for anything that I had before.
I left a job I loved. And I miss it at least a few times a week. But without my husband there it wouldn’t matter. Because a job is not everything for me.
I left my family. And everyday I miss them. I wish that I was closer to them so that my kids would grow up surrounded by people who loved them. But if I hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have my kids at all. And I need them in my life. Them and my husband are my world.
I have given up more things than I can count to being a military wife.
And honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing.