We are a military family. It’s just one of the many things that we are. But it is a very big part of our lives. It has caused many of the hardships we have faced. But it has also helped us get through others. A military family will never be able to explain what it’s like to a non-military or ‘normal’ family. But despite all the negative aspects, moving all the time, being far from friends and family, being apart from your spouse constantly, making your kids change schools half way through the year every few years, it is worth it all.
What Makes Being A Military Family Worthwhile
There are a lot of things that can be good and bad at the same time when it comes to lifestyle. And military life makes that even more true. I can (and have!) go on for hours about all the bad things, but I want to make sure that I credit the good as well. Because there is TONS of good too.
You Become Strong Together
A military family has to be strong for a lot of reasons. There can be a lot of let down. But that is unavoidable when you are in a situation where people you’ve never met continuously decide things for your family.
A detailer decides where in the world we will live. The command at that unit decides how often I will see my husband. And when my kids can see their Dad. The President of The United States decides when my husband goes to war.
When you are waiting for days week or months for orders, you only have each other who understand. For example, the last time we got orders we were watching the days dwindle down. We finally got orders just a few days before we were supposed to be leaving! While waiting, we were trying to buy a house on the other side of the country, concerned about finding the right doctors for my son who has to be near a children’s hospital with a heart unit. I was pregnant and worried about switching doctors. Travel plans needed to be made. Movers needed to be scheduled. It was a mess.
But in the end, it all worked out. And we had each other through everything. We were strong together. And we have been strong together through 2 cross-country moves, really rough units, a long distance engagement, Stuart’s health troubles in basic training, and Tobias’s open heart surgery to name a few.
A military family learns to be strong together, because we have to be. And we are much better off for it. We know that no matter what life throws at us, we will get through it.
Learn How To Love Each Other
Every couple has to do this. It’s not easy for anyone. The high divorce rates can tell you that marriage is hard. You have to work on it and you have to compromise, it’s just a fact.
But when you are a military family there are unique challenges too.
Most people would say that nothing would ever come before their spouse and children. And you may be wondering what I am going to say next. But anyone who has a spouse in the military knows.
In our house. In our life. The Coast Guard comes first. My husband will ALWAYS choose work over us. And I only say it’s a choice. It is a requirement. When he signed on that dotted line and promised to serve his country, that is what he promised. So myself and the kids know that if work calls, everything else stops.
And we love each other anyway. Learning what Stuart needs and him what I need has been a very big part of our relationship. In the time that we have together we have to remember to take care of each other after the kids go to bed. Otherwise, we would never last.
A military family learns to love each other in a different way than the average family because sometimes, we are all we’ve got. And that’s okay. Because we have each other. It makes us strong, and happy, and it will always keep us close.
PS. If you are learning how to love each other check out The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts it is a really good read that will help a lot. there are a few different versions including a military-specific one that you can check out too! You can read How To Use The 5 Love Languages To Improve Your Marriage to get an idea of what they are about.
You Become Adaptable
This is one that you learn very quickly as a military family. Everything can change very last second. Vacations, orders, pretty much anything you can think of.
You just get used to change. We have accepted it as a part of life.
But that’s okay. Because, even though change is not easy, it is always happening. Learning to accept it can help to avoid a lot of stress in your life.
Stuart and I are already pretty used to it. Living in 3 states in 7 months can do that to you. But our kids will also have to learn. In some ways, military children are not children for very long. They have to leave their friends and their homes. And start over new constantly. I’m nervous for our kids when they get older.
I never had to do that. I lived in the same house until I went to college. I went to the same schools as my Mom. My Mom spent a lot of her childhood in that house next door to where I grew up. I have had the same best friend for almost 20 years. But my kids will never have that. In fact, Tobias has lived in 3 houses. We moved into this home on his 1st birthday.
But that’s okay. It’s a part of this life. And our kids can take that skill, that acceptance into everything they do. It will help them to thrive throughout life.
Check out How To Decide Where To Move to help you make your wish list!
See Places You Never Would Have
I have already been places that I probably would not have been because of where we have been stationed. When we were in California we went to Alcatraz with my Mom and it was just awesome. It is probably my favorite memory from California. We had a pretty rough time there so we don’t have a lot of great memories. Most of them include my neighbor and I eating food and watching Netflix. And don’t forget walking around Target. I am SO glad Mallory was my neighbor.
But we also lived in Northern Michigan. Which despite everything, is a beautiful place. And it was our first home as a family.
As we go more places, the list will only grow. And when we move our kids can see all kinds of things on the way. Places that we may never have made it to otherwise. That’s why road trips are fun. This country has so much in it that we don’t even know about.
On our last move, we passed John Wayne’s birthplace which my husband thought was pretty cool. He loves John Wayne. Just one more thing we never would’ve seen!
Become Part Of A Community
A military family usually is just outside of every community you live in. Especially as Coast Guard. If we get on base housing it will be another branch’s base. So we will still be outsiders.
And because we move so often, it can be hard to become a member of the area for long. By the time you feel like you are, you’ll be waiting on orders to leave.
But there are people who understand. It is one thing I love about social media, we can come together and support one another even if one of us is in Guam and the other is in Alaska. It doesn’t matter. And it is an incredible resource for people at all stages of being a military family. For those that are leaving for basic training and just dating, to those who have been in for 20 years and married for more than that.
We can all be friends and helpful to one another. 2 of the people I talk to the most I met in our short time in California. And I find that they are the 2 that I wish lived closer to me. Because they get it all. They’ve been through it too.
As a military family, we have a community like no one else. Because we all understand it.
It’s Not Easy
Being a military family is incredibly challenging. You can go days, weeks, or months without being together. And even then only see each other for hours or days.
Each member may have to endure some of the hardest times in life alone. But if you can grow to make it through everything. And grow together, like you have to. This life is more than worth it.
The friends you make are for life. Your kids see what it is to stand up for what you believe in. You become an unbreakable couple. And you learn to be able to get through just about anything on your own. All because you can do it together, as a family unit.
If you are about to become a military family, embrace it for what it is. Take the bad with the good. And remember that we are all here for you. No matter what branch you are a part of, army, air force, navy, marine, or coast guard. We are all in this together, and we can all make it through.
What is you favorite part about being a military family? What makes it worth it for you?
PS. check out Being A Military Wife: 10 Things To Know