Being a Military Spouse

Mapela Motshabi-Custodio, MS, Military Spouse and Mother

Mapela Motshabi-Custodio, MS, Military Spouse and Mother

I remember it just like it was yesterday. When my husband and I got married, it was a happy and yes absolutely miserable time because my husband was deploying the following week. With the pre-deployment preparation they had going on at their unit, we couldn’t even get a mini honeymoon. From there on, he deployed for six months and back then, communication was not easy. For the first six months of our married life, we were separated and also had no means of communication.

Being a new military spouse can be a huge change in one’s life. I am now a military wife of 12 years and though we married young, we have survived all the challenges. I would love to share what worked for us.

1. True love conquers all
The saying true love conquers all isn’t just a cliché; I believe it to be very true. When you are truly in love, you can overcome more adversities that the military life brings. Love teaches you to be patient, kind and forgiving. When going through trying times, ask yourself “why did I get married to my husband or wife?” This exercise will help bring out all the good memories and can help strengthen your faith in your marriage and motivate you to try harder to overcome the situation that you have at hand.

2. Trust your partner
Without trust, there is never a relationship. Depending on your spouse’s MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), they might have to deploy a few times, and at times to places where communication with you might be scarce. Trusting your partner in this case comes in handy, because you will never find yourself being upset about why they are not calling you, who they are with, what they are doing and where they might be. It gives you peace of mind to trust that they are safe and that they are out there doing their job. One might argue, how do I know they are safe and such? If anything happened to them, rest assured you will be contacted by the proper authorities, this is one those situations where no news is good news. In some cases, not getting a call means good news and that everyone is safe, which has always been my priority.

3. Communication
Communication is the key to success in many marriages. As you are newly married, you might be young and still learning about each other, your communication styles and how you deal with stress. If you cannot find a way to communicate effectively and resolve your issues in a sane manner, never be ashamed to seek help. You can contact your FRO (Family Readiness Officer) who can guide you and inform you about counseling services available. If you are hesitant to consult your FRO, there are counseling services available through Military One Source as well.

4. Be flexible
Being flexible makes life much more bearable as a military spouse. For most of the time our spouses do not have control over a lot of aspects of their job. When they receive their orders they have no choice but to adhere to them. There will be a lot of missed vacations, birthdays, family events, etc.

5. Keep busy
To be successful in this lifestyle, it is best to keep busy and to keep moving. Do not spend your life waiting for your spouse because this can make you unhappy and miserable. If you have not yet, find a hobby and invest in yourself. If you have moved to a new place, go out and explore your new surroundings. After I got married, I moved to a new town away from my friends and I also experienced my first deployment. It was a rough experience for me, but I found a job, registered in a degree program and got myself a gym membership. Being involved in so many activities kept me busy and made surviving my husband’s deployment a breeze.

6. Always Look On The Bright Side
The life of a military spouse is not for the faint of heart and to make it a pleasant life you have to approach it with the right attitude and a positive outlook. Every time you deal with a PCS (permanent change of station) move look at it as another opportunity to live in and explore a different state or country. Look at it as an opportunity to develop new friendships, to go on new adventures and to create new memories. Always remind yourself that all hardships do come to an end. Always remain patient, work on finding solutions, seek help where needed and move on.

Look at your experience as a military spouse as a lifestyle. As hard as this sounds, keep in mind the needs of the military will always come before yours. Make peace with the lifestyle, make the best of what you have and enjoy the adventure.