Author: Samantha Curtis
When I stood by my husband as he took his oath before he left for Basic Training, I had no idea I was indirectly taking the oath as well. As I read book after book and stalked online forums, I had no idea what being a military wife meant.
And as much as I asked, and read, and researched, nothing could have prepared me for the trials and tribulations we would face together in the next few months. Most of the things I read were about PCSing, ACS, TDY, etc… but I wanted to know about things on a more personal level.
Although I have only been a military wife for three years, I have picked up some very useful tips and tricks throughout my time. And even though experience has been my biggest teacher, there have been a few things I want to share with you today as you prepare for, or continue your journey in this lifestyle.
1. There’s no planning:
For me, this was one of the hardest lessons to learn. I’ve been a planner my entire life and it drove me insane that I couldn’t plan a vacation let alone if my husband would be at my son’s birth. Although I still struggle with this, I’ve learned more and more that things will happen and they are completely out of my control. The only thing you CAN count on is that things will change; from minute to minute, day to day, and week to week. Learn to accept that and your life will be a lot easier.
2. Step outside your comfort zone:
I was terrified to put myself out there and try and make friends when we arrived at our first duty station. But I’m telling you right now; you will rely on these other women like you rely on your family. In fact, some of them will become family. You will face trainings, deployments, late nights, and more together. Make an effort to make good friends and don’t be afraid of any military wife stereotypes you hear. Your experience is what you make it.
3. Communication is key:
There would be days to weeks at a time where I wouldn’t hear from my husband on deployment. When we finally did get to talk, I made sure to catch him up to date on everything that had happened, ask how he was, and talk about everything and anything. But on a deeper level than the everyday chitter chatter, we made sure to keep each other happy and express our emotions. Deployment, or any separations in general can take a toll on a marriage and it’s so, so, important to keep the communication lines open.
Although I was having a hard time with my husband away, he was fighting a war under terrible circumstances. It’s very important to put yourself in each other’s shoes. Pick and choose your battles, remember you both have it hard, and learn to let things go. As a stubborn Italian, I struggled with this one a lot. But when I would consciously stop myself and think about it, our conversations would run a lot more smoothly and we were both in a happier place.
5. Accept help:
I’m a super independent woman and had a really hard time admitting I needed help at times. Whether it was asking someone to babysit my son for an hour while I showered, or coming to stay with me the day my husband left for Afghanistan, I thought asking for help was a sign of weakness. We’re human; some of us have never experienced anything like this before and we have to know when to ask for help if we need it. The people in your life love you and want to help you and it doesn’t make you weak by any means.
I’m sure you’ll have your own experiences and learn your own lessons but these are a few of the big ones I had to learn, and sometimes the hard way. I encourage you all to look at this in a positive light; we are a select group of women who will experience things a majority of the population never well. We need to be there for each other, encouraging each other, and helping one another through the toughest but also the best times of our lives.