If you’ve read my “About Me” page or follow me on social media, I mention that my husband is an Army veteran quite often. Even though he is no longer actively serving, our eight years with the Army taught us many lessons that have made us stronger as a family, made our marriage stronger, and influenced me as a mother.
I thought it would be fun to reflect on our time serving, and if something I share here helps someone else, even better!!
Lesson 1 – Expect the Unexpected
When it comes to military life, things are ALWAYS changing. If you don’t learn to roll with the punches and adapt, you will struggle. If you go into every day knowing that you may have to adapt your plans, you will be prepared to do so.
Lesson 2 – Have an Emergency Fund
Sometimes there will be pay issues – and its not always your fault! I remember when we first arrived to our first duty station, we had an issue where money was being taken out of my husband’s check for something that wasn’t supposed to be taken from soldiers unless they lived in barracks (which he obviously didn’t). It took us submitting paperwork THREE TIES over a period of six months to finally get that money reimbursed to us.
Other times, there will be training or classes which require the soldier to purchase certain equipment that can at times be pricey! Having an emergency fund established and available for these types of unplanned expenses can not only ensure your soldier is able to perform his duties, but also save a lot of stress and worry for you as a family. There’s nothing worse for a soldier than being away for training and knowing funds are tight back home! We learned this one the hard way.
Lesson 3 – Forge Friendships
When your soldier is periodically away for training and deployments, the friendships you forge with other military families can make all the difference between struggling and thriving while seperated. We grew very close with a family we were stationed with. The guys were deployed together and my friend Tabitha and I became “battle buddies” very quickly. We were always together, our kids were always together, and the days went by so much quicker because we could rely on each other to be there when we just needed a friend. She was even in the room to support me during the birth of our now five year old son! Friends don’t get much closer than that! Eight years later, we are still very close, even though we live a days drive apart.
Lesson 4 – You are Capable of More than You Think you are!
When my husband and I first started discussing the possibility of his going active duty, I fought against it….. hard. I didn’t think I would be able to handle being separated from him for long periods of time. I was intimidated by the idea of parenting four children on my own, handling all the finances, taking care of the house, all while homeschooling! Not to mention all while living in an unfamiliar area wayyyy out of driving distance from any friends or family. But basic training was an excellent crash course and although it wasn’t easy, we both survived.
I learned very quickly to shift gears when needed from parenting and doing life together to parenting alone and doing life together while separated by thousands of miles. I went through a deployment from the time I was 3 months pregnant until our son was 4 months old. I delivered him in a military hospital while Skyping with my husband who was in Afghanistan. Somehow I got through the first four months of raising a newborn while still taking care of four other children… on my own. That experience taught me that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be and that I can do anything I need to do for my family.
Lesson 5 – The Military Doesn’t Break Strong Families
This is a common stereotype. While it’s true that there is a slightly higher rate of divorce within military marriages, many couples find that they are better equipped to face challenges after navigating family life during separations, relocations and deployments. There is a measure of trust involved as a couple dealing with military life that isn’t often tested in other relationships. When you go through so much together and realize how committed the other is to making things work, there is an increased sense of solidarity and security that naturally develops. It is far from easy, and your marriage will be tested, but you can come out the other side stronger and better than ever before!
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and encouraging. As we are approaching our second year as a civilian family, I find myself reflecting often on just how many changes we have been through in our journey and how many blessings we’ve received from my husbands time in service. I can wholeheartedly say I am very proud to be the wife of a veteran and I am glad we had the opportunity to experience military life. I wouldn’t change a single thing!
I am excited to see what lessons our life together still has in store and what exciting things are waiting around the bend.