Things I Would Tell Myself as a New Military Spouse


My husband and I met after he had already committed to the Air Force. My basic understanding of the military (and military spouses) involved watching Dear John, some rom-com books, and the snippets of information my grandpa told us about “his time in the service.” So as a new military spouse, I had no clue what to expect in this new life

Needless to say, when I met my now-husband, my knowledge of the military world was… slim to none. And pretty exclusive to how it’s portrayed in Hollywood. Military spouses were women who wrote letters to their men stationed overseas. They made patriotic airport signs and lost themselves in their boyfriend’s careers while their men did battle on the front lines. You get it. 

While I’ve written my fair share of letters and made welcome home signs, being a military spouse isn’t really like what you see in movies. Sometimes I wish I had the opportunity to rewind time and tell myself about this life I’m living. Maybe offer a little warning. Or at least some empathy. 

Life as a New Military Spouse

Then sometimes, I think about how I needed to learn some lessons over the last decade. That they weren’t just about growing as a military spouse. But they were about growing as a person. Reflecting back, I know I needed to learn the hard lessons. I needed to experience them in order to grow from them. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be the woman, spouse, and person I am today. 

If I had the chance to chat over coffee with that woman all those years ago, here are a few things I’d tell myself as a new military spouse. 

Find the Balance (of complaining and… not) 

There will be times when everything goes wrong. There will be days or weeks or even months when you want to gripe at anyone and everyone who will listen. There will be a time when nothing seems to be going your way. You just want to march up to someone and let them know. There will be a time and a place to complain, I promise. Maybe venting, more so than complaining.  

But—find the balance. 

Don’t hurl yourself on one side of the complaint scale. Instead, look for the joys in this military spouse life. Look for the things that you can be proud of and supportive of. Complaining and venting are healthy. And necessary. And okay. 

But doing it constantly wears you down more than your problems do. It can also drive people away. There will be a time and a place for complaining. Confide in people you trust. And may I also strongly suggest not doing this on social media? 

Take the Pictures 

It’s easy to get caught up in being overwhelmed by or enjoying a place that we don’t document it. Take the pictures. Ask friends to get in them. Ask strangers to document you and your family doing activities. It’s easy to forget all the cool things and places we get to experience. Make an effort to remember them through pictures. One day looking back, you’ll be able to show your kids all the places.  

You Can Choose to be Lonely 

I want to toss out a truth bomb for a second. One that I would tell myself as a new military spouse: If you want to be lonely, you’ll choose to be lonely. 

And if that’s your style, go for it. But you get to choose. If you want to be lonely, you will have plenty of both intentional and inevitable opportunities to do so. This life is crazy and amazing, but it can also get lonely. No one is going to go out and make the effort for you. While people may seek you out, they won’t sustain any friendship that you won’t. It works both ways. You will have plenty of opportunities to be lonely while moving or when your spouse travels or when you’re the new girl. 

But if you want the opposite as a military spouse, you must make the effort to do so. No one else will do it for you. 

You Do Learn to Roll With the Punches 

There are many things I adore about being a military spouse. And chances are, you know most of them already. But there are also some hard times. Sometimes these things feel or seem bigger when you start out. It can be overwhelming. I’m sorry to say, that doesn’t completely go away. But it fades.

A spouse missing holidays or events never gets easy. Being away from family is always hard. But recognizing that things aren’t always in your control will gift you infinitely more grace and peace than you can imagine. 

Take it from this former control freak—you really do just learn how to roll with the punches. And while I am nowhere near zen 24/7, it gets easier to do so. Promise.