by Sunshine Burgess
After almost 16 years as an Air Force spouse, I find I can be quick to hand out advice or guidance to a new spouse, not always big, life-changing advice, but seasoned spouses like me often have more than a little to say. Sometimes I wonder what the spouse I am now would have said to me as a new spouse. So, here it goes:
Dear New Spouse Sunshine,
Welcome to the Air Force family. Believe that it is a family, with wonderful siblings and crazy aunts and uncles, but it is your family. Embrace it, as you will soon realize that your blood family will not always be right around the corner and even when they are, they may or may not understand your life. Get ready for a roller coaster ride. There will be lots of twists and turns and they will not always be pleasant and will often make you want to hurl!
Although you may believe that your husband will take you to far off places you have only dreamed of; he will also expose you to places you never imagined having to live. Keep an open mind and those adventures will give you an opportunity to grow in many ways. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. It may not be what you expected. You will not be spending the rest of your life overseas. You may be seeing more desert sand than sandy beaches. No matter where you move, it will seem that acts of nature just follow you. Be prepared. Stay aware.
He will leave you. Sometimes when you plan and sometimes when you least expect it. You will spend birthdays and anniversaries alone and you will learn to value every advancement in technology. Learn to be independent. Make friends. Stay busy. Volunteer and have hobbies. Those things may seem less important than him now, but they are the things you will value when he gets on that plane. Take the time to enjoy the times you are together and don’t take them for granted. He is one notification away from you being separated.
When you decide to start your own family, be prepared to solo parent, and possibly often. Sometimes when he is out of the country and sometimes when he just has to work. He may not always make it to the soccer game, but he will try his hardest. Appreciate when he shows up still in uniform to watch a game between meetings and don’t complain when he comes home a little late because he took that break to come to the game.
On a positive note, know that you will never grow tired of seeing him in that uniform (especially the fancy dress uniforms). You will never fully appreciate how many people wish they could be just like him. Embrace the idea that you now sleep beside your personal American hero, but never let him forget that even heroes need to be grounded occasionally. That is your job. You keep him in check. You become his balance.
Never forget that you are strong enough to live this life. You have to believe in yourself first. You can overcome whatever obstacles get thrown your way. You will learn to be more resilient. You will be an amazing military spouse.
Seasoned Spouse Sunshine
I am sure if I really thought about it, I could likely write myself a book of warnings, advice, and cute little antidotes. What fun would that really be? Isn’t half the fun of this life the unexpected nature of it? Wouldn’t much of the mystique be lost if we had step-by-step instructions? I don’t know about you, but I have grown to embrace the uncertainty of my life. I roll with it. In fact, my fear is the idea that one day we will “settle” and the certainty of that life will drive me insane!
If you have questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you would be interested in being matched with a Mentor Spouse, check out the New Military Spouse Support Program at Military Spouse Advocacy Network. https://www.milspouseadvocacynetwork.org/new-military-spouse-support-program.html