By Michelle Rawlings
Being a military spouse and living the military life can be beautiful and even entertaining at times if you have a good sense of humor. It’s a unique lifestyle that requires you to give up certain parts of you and your relationships to the military. For example, growing up I never dreamed of leaving my hometown where the majority of my family resides or that one day I would be separated from my spouse for up to a year at a time. I pictured my life being in the same place, raising my children, having them go to the same schools I went to, and being surrounded by family. I have heard people say, “the day I got married was the day I also married the military” or “ My husband is married to [insert military branch here] and I’m the mistress” and in many ways this can be true. The military comes first, the jobs and roles our spouses play are important, but it is how we choose to view our relationships within this military life makes all the difference.
Being in a relationship with someone in the military requires developing a partnership. I’m not just talking about a partnership with you spouse; I’m talking about building a partnership with the military. One of the best ways to build a partnership is by becoming involved. Becoming a key spouse, volunteering, or joining a spouse group are great ways to do this. By involving yourself in military spouse groups can help you to become apart of your spouses life. It helps you develop your own claim in the military and it also helps you to surround yourself with others who are just like you. Relationships are not one sided. There is a mutual give and take. Sometimes we as spouses can feel like an outsider and this is why joining groups that are involved in the military life are beneficial because it helps create a feeling of belonging.
For me personally, I found joining Military Spouse Advocacy Network (MSAN) to be one of the best ways to do this because I was looking for a way to make a difference not only in my life but also in others. I wanted to change my perspective on how I viewed the military and I wanted to belong. I have found a new appreciation for being a military spouse and truly enjoy my new role. I am making this military life my own and I no longer feel like an outsider because I have made the decision to become involved.
Now I know time is always against me, there never seems to be enough. With work, school, maintaining relationships, and children, it would seem that adding one more thing to the list might be unreasonable. However, doing even a little to becoming involved can reap more benefits for your relationship. For example, volunteering is apart of being in the military. Regretfully, I have to admit that there have been times where I have thought negatively about my spouse volunteering. My thoughts have been along the lines of, “you just worked a twelve hour shift and now they want you to spend more time away from home…” This is a negative outlook and poisons what could actually be a positive experience for our relationship. I realize now how selfish this is and that this is apart of my spouse’s career. I also realize that he actually enjoys volunteering and helping others. These are some of his characteristics that I love and adore most. If I love these things about him, I also need to support him in his duties to the military.
There is the saying, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” I implore you to do the same in regards to the military life. One way to do this is by becoming involved. A simple way to do this is if your spouse is involved in volunteering find out how you can also join in and make it something you do together. This way you can share in the experience.
Though there are times I find myself upset and or even disconnected from my spouse in his military career, I must realize that though I may not always agree with things I have to look at the positives because my spouse’s job is a part of who he is and if we are to continue to make this relationship work there needs to be a partnership with his career. With any relationship there are positives and negatives, you have to become flexible and take the good with the bad. The key here is to help make the positives outweigh the negatives. Doing things that make you feel apart of their world, like volunteering, helps and adds one more way to share in the experience and make the journey of being a military spouse that much more enjoyable.
What are ways that you find to include yourself in your spouse’s career and make this military life your own?