The holidays bring a lot of joy and excitement, including engagements and marriages. My husband and I got married in a courtroom 3 days before Christmas and a week before overseas orders in 2012.
Months before our wedding, my husband PCSed from Fort Drum and I tagged along for the almost cross-country move from New York to Arizona. I had a feeling that he would propose sometime during our trip (spoiler alert, he did propose at the end of the trip and I said “yes”).
Now, 3 years after saying “I do,” I’ve learned a whole lot, and I admit, I still have a whole lot to learn. In my father’s 20+ year career, I’ve witnessed the challenges of my rock star mother and she would always tell me to live day by day. I take that advice to heart and look to her for guidance and strength. The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is that despite all the trials and/or difficulties military life could bring, its community is the most loving, understanding and powerful asset for military spouses. We’re all in this crazy life together!
Here is a sampling of important advice I’ve learned as a military spouse:
- Question Everything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and really, you should be asking a lot of questions. There are a lot of moving parts with the military (ie., PCS, Tricare, retirement), so asking a lot of questions will ensure you understand this lifestyle better.
- Open Your Mind. There will be days when you scratch your head at the military, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. For example, things can change at a moment’s notice or there might be some rules that don’t make any sense to you. Be sure you keep an open mind.
- Expect the Unexpected. Nothing is set in stone. Orders can change and TDYs pop-up whenever.
- Expect Stereotypes. People may judge you inside and outside the military community. When I started dating my husband, people wondered why. There is a stigma with people that decide to join the military. There is also a stigma with newbie spouses. Don’t let anything or anyone get you down as you continue to grow within the military community because that isn’t a reflection of everyone. There are so many people out there that are kind and helpful. I’ve never experienced any negativity, but it’s out there.
- Find the Compromise. When the military threw the curveball of an overseas assignment at my husband before our nuptials, I really wanted the “dream” wedding– nothing big, just something with my dad walking me down the aisle and my family and friends there. So, we arranged for a courthouse ceremony first and the traditional church wedding at my childhood church when his assignment was over. It ended up being perfect for us. Compromise is your mantra.
- Keep Your Sense of Self Worth. No matter what, don’t lose sight of yourself! Take the time to do things that make you special and happy.