I married my husband in 2013. In 2016 he commissioned as an officer in the Navy. This was something he had planned and worked hard towards for quite some time. He joined the Navy to become a Naval Aviator. The route he took to get there brought a lot of uncertainty. We were not sure if he would get selected, and if he was selected, when he would go to Officer Candidate School (OCS). Once he was selected with a date for OCS, we didn’t know when he would have to report for flight school in Pensacola, FL. When we moved to Florida for flight school, we didn’t know when he would start training. When he started training, we didn’t know when he would move on to the next part of training, and if we would have to move to Texas. Now that we are in Texas for more training, we don’t know when we will move again, for yet another part of his training. Are you getting the point? Lots of uncertainty. I’m kinda, sorta getting used to it. Not really.
I am a planner and I found that a lot of military spouses are like me. We are Type A, we like to be in control, we like to have a plan, and we like to see it happen. And the military just laughs and laughs and laughs. So how do we find a way to keep our sanity in such an insane world?
- Unwind– Take some solo time to unwind. Do you like facials or massages? Maybe taking a walk? Working out? Napping? Did someone say wine? Margaritas? Hey girrrrrl, Hey! So I’m only slightly kidding here. I don’t necessarily mean drinking copious amounts of alcohol all the time. More like, relax, have a drink and woosah. Find some time to to decompress and unwind.
- Keep engaged– I hate when someone says to stay busy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good advice. I think it just hits a nerve with me, because it’s the advice that is given out SOOOOO much. So I’m going to say stay engaged instead. Semantics are important! When your time is consumed with work, kids, volunteering, activities, social engagements, etc… it’ll make the long days go quicker with less time to worry about when and where you’re moving to next.
- Socializing– This can mean a lot to different people. If you’re the type who flourishes in a big crowd, by all means get out there and make all the friends you can handle, there are tons to be made and found on base and off base. If you’re the type who just needs a few friends, make that happen. Or maybe you’re the type who prefers to fly solo most of the time. Whatever works for you, just make sure you know yourself. If you need to be super social, don’t hibernate inside all the time.
- Improve Yourself– So a lot of our time is spent making sure our spouses are supported in their careers. We make a lot of sacrifices to make sure they can be focused on their missions and growth in the military. But we need to make sure we are improving ourselves as well. This can mean developing your own career, or learning new skills like a language, hobby, or talent. Never stop growing. It can be done even when you’re unsure if/when your spouse will be home.
- Be Independent– I was given advice from the spouse of the Commanding Officer (CO) at a spouses’ event last month that really resonated with me. She said she learned to live her life as if her husband wasn’t going to be there. That meant she planned trips. She planned nights out. She worked and took her kids to activities, groups, and parties. She did it with the expectancy of doing it solo, so if and when the opportunity came that her husband could attend, it was a pleasant surprise. This did two things. First, it helped to eliminate disappointment when he wouldn’t be able to attend. Is it perfect? Will there be a little sadness that you’re flying solo? No, and of course! But it means that secondly your life is not on constant standby. Maybe this is the advice you needed to hear, like I did.
Learning to cope in a crazy world? Still planning in an unplannable life? Some might call it insanity, I call it the military spouse life.