Am I willing to make the necessary sacrifices it takes to be a military spouse? Do I really want to uproot my children every few years? Can I come in second behind the military for my husband? What about a career?
These are all good questions supplied by some seasoned spouses when I asked what they wished they’d known before becoming a military spouse. Whether you are marrying a military man or your spouse is planning to join, these questions need to be explored. Only you can decide what you are willing to sacrifice by being a military spouse.
The Good Chaplain and I were married for four years when the military came into the picture. We were married 10 years when he came on active duty. But I still needed to answer that question. Was I willing to make sacrifices, such as giving up my full-time job for his career? Luckily, my career was portable, and I could find work if I wanted it.
But what about kids? Every time we move for the military, we are uprooting our children, and they have to start all over again. My girls went to five different schools before graduating from high school. And they got to spend three years at the same high school. Sometimes military families move between junior and senior years. Not fair for most kids.
For the most part, kids are resilient and make friends faster than adults do. But they also have issues with loneliness, homesickness, and missing the friends they already have. If you have children, include them in the decision-making process.
Another issue to consider is all the moving around. Generally, the Air Force gave us advanced warning of a move, but sometimes it was short notice. When we moved from Alabama to Alaska, we had a month. In that month, the Good Chaplain went on a temporary duty assignment, we traded in our travel trailer for a new one, we sold my minivan, and the Good Chaplain performed a wedding in Illinois. It’s amazing how much you can get done in a short time if you have to. But you need to determine if this is something you are willing to do.
Of course, making new friends is on this list as well. It is hard to forge friendships at one base, only to start again at another station. And if you are introverted, it is even harder. So you have to decide if you are willing to make an effort to build new relationships knowing it may only be for a few years.
I once knew a colonel’s wife, who told me she didn’t make friends anymore because it hurt too much when they moved. Even early in my husband’s military career, I thought that was the saddest thing I’d ever heard. You never know when that BFF is right around the corner.
There is so much to think about when contemplating whether to marry a military man or if your spouse is considering joining the military. These are not easy questions, and each person/couple needs to determine what is right for them.
Next week, I will try to answer the question of going solo while being married.
Do you have an opinion about this piece? Or more questions? Reply in the comments below.