Ten Ways To Toughen Up As A Military Spouse

Bethaney Wallace, Army Spouse

Back when my husband worked in TRADOC (that's training + doctrine), he told me a story I've never forgotten. It was about a call they got at basic training: a wife called because her husband wasn't getting his mail quickly enough. His drill sergeants had a field day. The man got in a world of trouble, and his mail never came any faster – it simply took as long as it took.

Through all the hoopla, I remember thinking about this poor woman. She either had a ways to go OR, she wasn't going to make it long as a military spouse. Those were her options: toughen up or retreat, I thought.

Being a military spouse isn't for the faint of heart. You certainly can't be offended easily or upset by change. And say the mail takes a little longer than you'd like to arrive – that should be the least of your worries.

To make your own life easier (as well as your SO's), here are a few steps you can take to toughen that outer shell that is necessary for a military lifestyle.

1. Get Over It
The song by OK Go comes to mind (get get get get get over it). Bad and frustrating things will happen in the military; it's not personal. It's just not. You can choose to stew about it, or you can move on and save yourself some grief.

2. Time Heals All Wounds
The longer you've lived in the military, the easier it gets. Just like anything. Eventually you'll look back at your first few months in and how personally you took it all and have a good laugh.

3. It Could Be Worse
Yes, really. For every sudden move or late-night shift, remember that someone somewhere has it way worse while working for Uncle Sam. Try to be thankful for the days where things are more pleasant.  

4. Take the Training Courses
Spouses have a number of options available to them to "toughen up," as well as other topics, like budgeting, area tours, etc. Take advantage of these free resources and learn from a proven method, and by those who have been there first. Check with your local MWR and other on-post resources to learn more.

5. Focus on the Good
Life in the military doesn't come with zero perks. Instead of always staying negative, consider all the good parts, too. Health insurance, education training, regular discounts, and more are all available to you – on the days when life seems most unbearable, remind yourself that the government has brought you positive in life, too.

6. Do it Again, and Again, and Again
Things like training travel, deployments, etc., are always hard. But living them also teaches you that you can do it. You can make it through. The next time you're about to deal with distance (yet again), remind yourself of all the times you've made it through in the past.

7. Talk With Your Spouse
Chances are, they're in a tight spot way more than you will ever be. Don't forget to be supportive to what they're dealing with. Besides, communicating about what you're both going through will help provide common ground and make life easier overall.

8. Learn to Block Others Out
It's true that you can only hear, "You knew what you were getting yourself into" so many times before wanting to punch someone between the eyes. That number is about three. Learn to ignore these types of comments for your own sanity. That goes for ignoring news sources too – unless you hear it from your spouse, don't believe it. That's the only way to sleep at night.

9. Remain Flexible
In case you haven't already realized, pretty much everything is subject to change in the military. Even the stuff they say is final will still change. Accept this early on. Staying flexible will keep you from getting upset once the plan completely changes (and then switches back) at the last possible second.

10. Be Proud
You are the spouse of a serviceman/woman – and that's something to celebrate! Looking at all their accomplishments can help make the bad things better. Besides, your current situation isn't forever, instead you can look back on all the great that they've done and know you were there, helping them along the way.

It's not easy being a military spouse – no one expects it to be a "butter" job. However, by changing your state of mind and essentially powering through, you can help make life more enjoyable throughout your time in the military.