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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Is the Military Right for My Family?

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Is the Military Right for My Family?

I often get asked, "How do you do it?". So in other words, how can you stand the constant moving, husband being gone and doing most things on your own. Of course I have to have some kind of answer, and I try to make it a good one...but it got me thinking......yes, I've got a lot of Army experience....I grew up in an Army household, I was in the Army myself and now I'm married to an Army man, so I'm not really the norm here. What could I say to those who have had no exposure to the military and their significant other is thinking about joining up? First things first.....don't make the decision by yourself...it really has to be a family one and not just the person who wants to join. Read on to see if the military is something for you.

Keep these thoughts in mind before joining and repeat them to yourself...a few times over...if they stay down, then you are primed for military life. These are listed in no particular order of importance:

  • I can handle living one to three years in one place (we have moved about six times in the last 11 years)
  • I don't mind the moving process, and if I had to, I could orchestrate a family move by myself (yes, the military makes all the arrangements and hires the movers, and there may be a time in your spouse's career where he has to go and you do the moving entirely on your own with a power of attorney in hand)
  • I am okay with not being #1 (I don't care what military folks tell you about family, mission comes first and will always come first; with that being said, the military is making great strides in bumping up the importance of family...."lose a family, lose a soldier" they say)
  • I realize that sometimes, I will be on my own, and it doesn't matter that the kids are sick and throwing up, I'm sick and throwing up, the dog pooped on the rug and the washing machine is overflowing (you tend to get a great support network together, that doesn't even include anyone in your extended family)
  • I know how to balance a checkbook and keep my family's finances in order (or I am willing to learn; you need to be able to be the household manager and make some decisions on your own)
  • I realize that if I do marry a military man, and he is an officer or a higher ranking non-commissioned officer (NCO), there will be certain things expected of me (such as volunteering and mentoring spouses of lower enlisted soldiers)
  • I absolutely have to be a self-starter and be able to motivate myself and not always have to feed off anyone else's energy (it's almost like being a single parent a lot of the time; I have the highest respect for someone who has to raise children on their own, especially those with no family support network)
  • I have to have a flexible and open nature (you cannot be so set in your ways and not open to change or you will be miserable)
  • I cannot be a gossip (I do know people who aren't happy unless they are talking about someone and what that someone is doing; do this in the military and it could harm your spouse's career, not to mention affect operational security, such as bringing harm to your spouse's unit while he is deployed...or even at home; I've learned to watch CNN and not say a word when friends or relatives ask me loaded questions)
  • I have to have some kind of sense of humor, because on same days, that's all you'll have to keep you going
  • I am open to making new friends and branching out my horizons (you don't necessarily have to be an extrovert...cause I'm not....I'm the opposite myself...but when faced with an opportunity to talk to others and make friends, you have to be willing....you'll be doing it over and over again after every move and at every new location)
  • I have to realize the military has a certain sense of structure and order, and even though I am my own person, I have to be willing to assimilate somewhat (as in get familiar with some of the customs and courtesies, as well as learning the various acronyms and procedures, as some affect me as a spouse and my children)
  • I have to be at least a little adventurous and curious about other things (if you are a person who absolutely resists any kind of change, you will not last in a military environment; many times people who have no children and then suddenly have a baby are able to overcome this roadblock just by being a parent!)
  • I have to realize too that being a soldier is going to be more dangerous than being the local grocery store manager and have to plan accordingly (which means talking about wants and wishes as well as having enough life insurance to keep the survivor and the kids worry free the rest of their lives)
If you've read this far, then you are military spouse material and you should have no problems adjusting to military life. I personally like to say my family is right for the military. Our extended family has a sense of service, sacrifice and duty. We are not going to be a blip on the radar screen of life like so many others who have not done anything for their country and way of life...."their peoples" as my grandmom would say. I can look back and say our family has a tradition of serving and can honestly say we are doing something for the greater good....not the war part...we all can have our own opinions about that...but about realizing that life is not just about you. It's when you have that attitude and that enlightenment, that you can really feel good about yourself and your family. I hope I didn't get too voodoo on you, but these are some things to think about before your spouse raises his right hand and swears to serve his country.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Mila said...

well, i like this post so I wanna say THank You! I'm in a relation with a AF SNCO and lately we are talking a lot about making it to the next level. As you can guess my biggest worry is becoming part of military life. Plus, I am European. Decision to marry an American military guy is not easy at all, but posts like yours are helping me to understand what military life looks like and what I could expect. So far I know a lot and I'm still learning but I guess you can never know it all.

August 11, 2008 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger tootie said...

I didn't realize you were in the military, too! (I was in the military as well, and that's where I met my military husband.)

I loved your list of things. It actually made me feel proud for all the things that we do! And yes, a sense of humor definitely helps :)

August 11, 2008 at 4:16 PM  

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