Before my spouse’s last deployment, and our first as husband and wife, the few months leading up to his departure date were increasingly difficult. We have always had a tight marriage and open communication but for some reason, knowing there was an impending forced six month separation courtesy of the United States Air Force, our communication wavered a bit. Things that would never cause any sort of frustration were causing us to pipe up and cease talking to one another about it. For me, it was the last few days before he left that were extremely hard. We had only been married for about 9 months. Even though it was not the first deployment for either of us it was still very difficult.
Once my husband was gone I was determined to ensure our family continued “life as usual”. Easier said than done right? Ha. I made a point to do some very basic things as a newly married military spouse. I decided there was no better time than the present to restart my exercise regime. I had met a neighbor, Pam, whom I had become quite close with early on living at Davis-Mothan AFB. She and I would workout a few times a week at the gym and then go for walks in our neighborhood, almost daily.
Life was great. I had found my battle buddy, taking care of myself and my family and finding ways to keep my stress levels from rising too high. I was new to the base and had managed to make a few new friends within days of living there. For me, this was huge. Being a military spouse and moving so often definitely makes it that much more difficult finding new friends. Life is hard. I get it, which is why it is imperative to find new friends early on at your new duty station.
Another way I was able to keep “life as normal” was to get involved. Since we had recently moved to DMAFB I hadn’t begun working outside of the home. The kids were in school so it left me literally all day to do nothing. That got boring fast. So, I got a job. Luckily for me, I had another close friend, Amy, whose husband was the Security Forces Commander at the time. He knew me. He knew my professional background. He also knew I had applied for a few different Government Service jobs on base. It just so happened he was in need of a new secretary. Word got out that one of the jobs I had applied for was as the Security Forces Commander’s Secretary. The GS process to be hired for any job is usually long and tedious, but because I had this Commander requesting me personally to work for him, the process was quite short.
Life was good. I was keeping the family home as “life as usual”, I had made a few really good friends and I even had filled up my days with a full-time job. The remainder of my husband’s deployment went much faster because I had decided to get up and move and get things done. I did not dwell on the fact that my husband was in Iraq and we were on the other side of the world in Arizona. I did not dwell on the fact that he missed our first anniversary, and all of our kids’ birthdays. I did not dwell period. I could have but what would that have done? Nothing but increase everyone’s stress and then next thing you know, we would have begun exhibiting physical symptoms due to the stress.
So, for the new military spouse reading this. I suppose my advice to you would be to embrace change. Being a military spouse requires us to adapt and to always be resilient. If we are unable to do this or unwilling, life will be that much harder. Go with the flow because there is always change being a military family and it is essential that you remain flexible. Semper Gumby.