5 Things I Would Tell Myself as a New Military Spouse

military spouse

Since moving overseas last year, and getting involved in the small military community here, I have met so many new military spouses and first time moms. Watching them navigate the ups and downs of this unique lifestyle, babies and toddlers in tow, I want to give them a hug. I remember being in their shoes. I want to give that girl a hug too – the one who is on a roller coaster ride, feeling confident and on top of the world one minute, and wondering what on earth she has gotten herself into the next moment. If I were to have a conversation with Julie of a decade ago, here are a few things I would tell her:

  1. There is no “right way” to do this. Some spouses will choose to be involved with programs on post or with their service member’s unit, and some won’t. Some will move back to their hometown during long separations, while others stay. Some will be deeply interested and invested in their service member’s job and career track, but some will choose to stay focused on their own career. The important thing to remember is that there is more than enough room for each type of person. Be confident in who you are, and don’t be afraid to take up space. And just as important: always make room for others to do the same. 
  2. Your own approach to your role as a military spouse will change and evolve with different duty stations and seasons of life. You will find yourself making some of the very same choices that you once balked at in others. Stay humble.
  3. Friends come and go (literally…one of you will move), but your spouse will be in your life for the long haul. Do the work to stay connected and keep communication lines open, even when it’s hard. Don’t give up when it feels like you’ve both forgotten how to have a normal conversation. It’s worth it, I promise.
  4. Sometimes it will feel like the military (or just life circumstances in general) are pitting you and your spouse against each other. Always remember that you two aren’t adversaries, but rather teammates, fighting through the storm together. Teach your children to take the same approach with siblings and parents.
  5. You will feel like you are being forced to start over, time and time again. But you are never starting from scratch. You are simply getting the opportunity to recalibrate. You are always building on all the experience and growth that have brought you to this moment. Wherever you currently call home, don’t give up on building the kind of life that you want for your family. When circumstances are out of your control, look for the areas of life where you do have agency. Take small steps, and make little changes where you can. If something isn’t working for you, take a step back, recalibrate, and try again.

It may be a bumpy road, but you are creating something beautiful.

Our Wedding day in 2011
Our wedding day in 2011, which was soon followed by our very first PCS.
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Julie Barnes
Julie is the mother of three kids, ages 10, 6, and 3. Although she knew little about military service when her marriage began, she promised to follow her husband wherever the Army would send him. To her continuous surprise and delight, the Army has brought her family to Italy for a second time. A former piano teacher and worship leader, Julie has recently shifted her creative energy to writing. She has contributed to Legacy Magazine and She Is Kindred – A Storytelling Collective. Julie believes that telling our stories can help us understand each other’s unique journey and perspective, ultimately bringing us closer to one another. In her free time, Julie enjoys reading, cooking, sight-seeing, and learning Italian. Julie shares snapshots of her family’s life overseas on Instagram at @juliecodabarnes.


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