I am so excited to welcome another fantastic military spouse as our guest blogger for the month of April! This month we are hearing from Taylor, an Army wife who spent her first year as a military spouse living in South Korea with her husband. She loves to encourage other military spouses (and girlfriends) through her Instagram, Youtube, and website with reels, resources, and offering a listening ear for anyone who needs it. As a follower of Taylor on social media myself, I am always enjoying her content and often learning something new (or reminding me of something I forgot along the way). She may be a new military spouse but she has the right attitude and the heart of a teacher so whether you're a new milso or a seasoned one, check her out once you're done reading her post!
I’ve recently passed the one year mark of being a military wife and looking back at how far I've come is incredible. From being the girl who swore she would never date a man in the military to being a very proud military wife with a platform to help other military wives and girlfriends is both funny and amazing to me. Here are some important lessons I learned in my first year of being a military wife.
I’m a lot stronger than I realized
The biggest reason I always said I would never date anyone in the military is because I didn’t think I was strong enough to handle a lifestyle like this; one with separation from my husband, having little to no control over where I lived, having to move so often, worrying about the safety of my spouse, etc. Any military man was getting a swipe LEFT from me on the dating apps (my husband conveniently left the military off of his profile, hah!). What I've come to realize is that I'm so glad this was my journey after all because I've realized how much strength I really do have. Being a military wife has made me a better person because it’s forced me to become more independent and resilient. In my first year of being a military spouse I moved halfway across the world for a year, completely changed careers, made new friends, and SO much more I never thought I could do because I was never forced this far outside of my comfort zone.
Putting yourself out there to make friends is both necessary and worth it
As you can imagine, moving around as often as most military families do, keeping friendships can be difficult. It takes effort putting yourself out there to find your new friend group at each duty station. As an introvert myself, I know the energy it takes out of you to go outside of your comfort zone so often. You can absolutely keep up with friends from old duty stations & those friendships can last, but it’s important to have your go-to girl gang at your current duty station too. I waited longer than I’d like to admit to find my friends at our first duty station and I wish I’d met them sooner! It’s often laughed about that once you find your bestie, one of you ends up PCSing quickly after. My advice to any new milso is to put in the work to find friends and don’t shrug it off for too long. Some ways you can make friends include just asking around about different groups on post, attending events around the area, looking on social media (sounds creepy but you won’t be the only one!), or seeking out others your age at your workplace.
Military wives are welcoming & open up easily
To segue off of my previous lesson, I also learned my first year as a milso that military wives tend to open up and invite you in quicker than your average woman. We are all going through something uniquely challenging that non milsos can’t possibly comprehend in the same way we can. Because of this, I’ve found they are quick to offer you a listening ear, introduce you to their friends, & get to know you. Military wives (even relatively new ones) understand that time is precious, military life can be a whirlwind, and the need for friendships. I learned this first year as a milso that military wives are built differently!
You have to let go of control
This was probably the hardest lesson for me to learn and the one I'm still actively learning. I am a type-A person, and in the military lifestyle things change all the time without a lot of notice. From minor things like your spouse getting put on an extra duty that ruins your date night plans to a year long deployment that really changes your life- things change a lot and your plans come second to the “needs of the military.” This also makes it very hard to make concrete plans and invest in them too far out. I’m a person who thrives off of having a plan and being a part of making that plan. At first it would bring me to tears and cue quite the meltdown, but once I realized it was going to happen often, I really started to get used to it and my resiliency grew. I’ve begged AirBnb for refunds for trips we had to cancel at the last minute 3 times this year alone (and we got the refunds somehow). I’ve learned to write things in my planner with a pencil instead of my cute colored pens. I've learned to be more “go with the flow” when it comes to things. I’m not going to lie, this is still one I'm grappling with, but overall I've learned to slowly let go of control.
Beware of the spouse pages!
I learned some things are better left unsaid on the military spouse Facebook pages. While these can be a great resource for information, they can also be a feeding ground for bitter spouses looking to tear others down, a cesspool of negativity, and a place to just stir up some drama. Thankfully I never got caught up in any drama on the spouse pages but I witness a LOT of it. As a new military spouse I want to caution anyone looking through a spouse page to remember that misery loves company; don’t take what some disgruntled spouses think about a particular duty station and think it is the whole truth. I saw PLENTY of very negative comments regarding the duty station we were at, but I had a wonderful experience. Don’t get me wrong, there are always things that are hard about a duty station and not all of those things being said were inaccurate… but I found more often than not that people like to complain more than they like to uplift and praise a duty station. Take it all with a grain of salt!
There are so many benefits
Of course we all know you can get military discounts on things when your spouse is in the military, but there are a lot more than you realize, and there are a lot more benefits to military life than just 10% off at certain stores (usually it is even more than that!). Benefits of military life that I learned during my first year include the ability to live in pretty cool places, free or very cheap health insurance, a guaranteed paycheck you can count on, the opportunity to grow as a person in countless ways, access to mental health resources at all times, and a deep sense of pride in your country. For our first duty station together, my husband and I lived in South Korea! I never imagined I'd live somewhere like this. Next we are heading back to my home state of Kansas. Anytime I needed to go to the doctor for something- I had little worry about the bill. We never had to worry or wonder about finances because we could always count on my husband’s paycheck to come through. I’ve grown in my independence, confidence, resiliency, and patience more this year as a new military spouse than my whole life combined. The benefits of being a military spouse are incredible.
These are only a small handful of the lessons I've learned so far as a military spouse. I know I'll keep learning lessons both beautiful and hard as we navigate this crazy adventure that is military life!
Thank you Taylor for sharing your insights on your first year as a military spouse! What lessons stuck out most to you? Or what was a lesson you learned in your first year that you'd like to share?
Make sure, if you haven't already, that you go and follow Taylor on Instagram and Youtube and check out her website! She has the sweetest heart and I am hoping to bump into her once we both PCS to Riley this summer!
If you'd like to write a guest blog for the Spouse SERVE Blog, we would love to hear it! Send us an email to SpouseSERVE@gmail.com.