As an 'experienced' (notice I did not say senior) military spouse I always feel for and try to encourage those going through their first deployment, making their first military move, or even sending the love of their life off to train for a few weeks that very first time. I remembered the first time I sent my hubby off.  It was torture.  I made a big Thermos full of coffee for him (which I learn later that I forgot to put the inside cap on so he ended up spilling hot coffee everywhere), loaded him up with baked goodies and I had NO IDEA how I was going to let him go. I was standing outside in a parking lot in the dark in Fort Knox, Kentucky crying like a baby.  What on earth was I going to do with myself living in a state where I didn't know many people, had no family and now the love of my life just pulled away in a big white bus and he was going to be gone for TWO WHOLE WEEKS! Today, two weeks is over in the blink of an eye, what I would give for a two week TDY (temporary duty station, aka business trip for you civilians). 

Today  I try to encourage that young or new spouse by letting her know that it gets easier, and someday they will appreciate when their spouse goes TDY for a couple of weeks.  Honestly, the first time I heard this I thought - I thought, 'she must not love her husband as much I love my guy.  How can she ever think I will get use to this?!'  OH! How I thought this spouse was HORRIBLE!  Little did I know that 20 years later I would be that horrible woman telling you, "You will get used to it, and at times you will even welcome it".  Military life can be hard at times, but you must learn that from everything you go through there is a lesson, at the time it may seem like the hardest thing you have ever done, but if you take that lesson and just try a little to pull the good from it the next time you will be better equipped to handle that separation, that move, that sick child or whatever the case may be. That first time without my Hubby felt like the hardest time of my life.  Little did I know it was just preparation for 4 long deployments and many shorts separations in between.  (By short I mean 2 weeks - 3 months.)

So, I ask some of my military sisters a simple question:  If you had one piece of advice for a young or new military spouse what would it be?  Here are some of the answers I received:

*Learn from those who have gone before you....there is something to be said for experience. ~ Marla
*Have a really good sense of humor! ~ Barb
*Turtle, Turtle. Be like a turtle. A turtle has to stick their neck out to move forward. To a young military spouse the Army life can be daunting; however, if you just stick your neck out a little, you will move forward in your Army life. ~ Krista
*Army is a culture/a lifestyle...when given lemons make lemonade.  You have the choice of becoming part of the resolution or part of the problem. ~ Carmen
*Be positive and surround yourself with positive people. ~ LeAnn
*Every time you move, remember that you only get out of a place what you’re willing to give jump in, make friends, volunteer for your favorite causes and explore! If you wait too long, it's time to move and you've missed it. ~ Kelly
*This is a journey you have to embrace. Flexibility and a positive attitude is a must. It is up to you to make each situation the best for you and your family. ~Yvonne
*Always count your blessings, dwelling on the good stuff helps get you through the hard stuff. ~ Rachel
*Mine would be tell her to run...haha just kidding, I agree getting involved is key, also be prepared, so many women are shocked when hubby has to leave for work, be prepared for it and it will be easier to get through it! ~ Lauren
*I would tell her to be supportive but not to lose herself and her interests. Surround yourself with a great group of women that will build you up. Also, PATIENCE (I still need to work on that one)! ~ Rebecca
*So far, the one insight I have is always have a back-up plan, especially if you have kids. ~ Sara
*I think it is imperative to say never stop talking with your spouse especially when the conversations get hard. Too much time apart without really talking equals a breakdown in the marriage. Keep talking!!! ~ Tammy
*I would say the same thing and add to try to get plugged into a church as well. ~ Tori
*Also, embrace change, don't fight it. Everything changes, so the more you fight it; the harder it will be on you and your family. It is important to be flexible and understand that things won't always go in the direction you have
planned out. And even though I do work, I still want to be involved as much as possible, so I am always willing to volunteer. ~ Sara
*Stay true to yourself. Find a hobby, a passion, go back to school. Don’t lose yourself, just because you are a military spouse does not mean you do not have an identity! ;) Stay strong but remember it’s ok to cry. Find a battle buddy to help get you through the bad times and laugh through the great times. Reach out to our families of the Fallen & Wounded Warriors in any way possible. Lastly, don’t be too hard on the FRG leaders both good and bad. I have learned so much from both types.  ~ Liz
*I am still a young spouse, the ranks we've went through, Wow! I would tell her to not be that wife. You know the one who flashes her husband’s rank and think she wears it on her chest as well. Rank does get things accomplished
quick but so does kindness and hard work. Most would never guess that I am an officer’s wife. In James there is a scripture that says be humble and he will take care of you. If it wasn't for a LTC wife that told me when my husband
commissioned to not be "that wife" it would have been very easy to let the maxed put pay grade for prior service and the rank of my husband to go to my head. I can definitely tell we are more respected and trusted by everyone in my hubby's unit for our approach to the army system. ~ Rachel
*Be yourself! A little humility goes a long way - learn to go with the flow, which goes in line with being flexible (like a freaking Chinese acrobat!!) don't sweat the small stuff and most importantly - have a sense of humor!! Seriously, some of this stuff you can't make up!! I'm writing a book someday! ~ Allison
*I think everyone's nailed it on the head. Along with everyone else's wonderful advice I’ve always said to avoid becoming one's own island. It’s really what everyone else has said (along with remaining flexible, patient,
etc.). regardless of independent i am i still get involved in the community, i have created wonderful
friendships, I’ve taken advantage of what the local area has to offer, etc. also, along with being flexible, i think spouses need to keep in mind that becoming bitter and angry at the Army due to the pace of training, deployments
etc. only hurts yourself and your family. It will color everything you do, everything you say, the relationships you create. Embrace those separations as periods of growth, as opportunities to strengthen the bonds of your marriage. If
you are exhibiting negativity it's only going to make things harder on your family, including your soldier. I’ve seen too many wonderful ladies be consumed by rage and bitterness and it's just not pretty. Take the time to revel in unique Army traditions, and create new ones for your family. Embrace change, it's inevitable. From the get go plan for periods of separation: understand your bills, finances, how to take care of the car, be willing to undertake all the household chores without labeling some his/hers because chances are from time to time you'll be handling most or all of it by yourself. And don't forget to take care of yourself!  ~ Laura
*I always tell them, "it is what you make it.” If you complain about your current post, deployment, etc. then of course it will be miserable. Seize the opportunity to explore new things and new cultures and make the best of it. As I look back in my 20 years as an army wife, I know there were times that I was that complaining young wife, but now, I cherish all those memoriesas we begin a new chapter in the world of retirement. :) ~Andrea
*The suggestions to volunteer and get involved are spot on, but also recognize when you need to say "no" to take care of yourself or your family. I don't have nearly as much experience as a military wife as some of you do, and only had tomake it through one long deployment/activation, but that advice was helpful to me and has been helpful in
the civilian world, as well. Also, feel free to be protective of your family's time together. After a return from deployment, there will be lots of people who want to see your soldier right away, but feel free to take a few days, if you feel you need to, to reunite as a family first, before making all kinds of plans with extended family and friends. ~ Lara
*After almost 25 years as a military spouse I can say that my walk with God and lots of laughter got me through even the toughest times and remembering that so you think, so you act, so you are. Got me through 14 deployments and I'm still sane! : ) ~ Therisa
*Put God first. Reach out to your "sister spouses". Embrace the WONDERFUL Army family and life style (although challenging at times) by taking advantage of and... appreciating your benefits and locations. Be involved, be prepared, and don’t lose yourself in your hubby's job or position! On a practical note: when you PCS unpack and set up as quickly as possible so you can get out and jump into your community! As a former Army brat and current Army spouse, I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to live this lifestyle! ~ Tammy
*My advice would be to enjoy the ride. You meet amazing people along the way, a true family. This life is NOT for the timid, step out of your box and embrace it. Always remember where you came from, but the road that lies ahead will be just as fun. Most important teach your children to embrace this life as well; they will be much better people in the long run. ARMY STRONG! ~ Lori
*Become explorers wherever you are stationed, there are amazing little spots even in the middle of the desert. ~ Cat
*Get it in writing! Know exactly who gave you the wrong information! ~ Stine

Enjoy the ride of your life....Army Familes, Army Strong!
1/11/2012 04:18:45 am

If there is anything I have learned, it is that life must go on. The world doesn't stop because your better half/best friend is deployed. There are some days you must force yourself to spend time with friends, because you know if you stay home ....there might be a crying episode. Take long walks, longg bubble baths,

1/11/2012 04:25:08 am

and think positive. Let him know everyday how much you love him, miss him, and are proud of him. Keeping your relationship strong is key. Sending him comforts of home always helps me too because I always put a piece of me in every care package. Never forget what you two share together, and you will see how much closer you two will be. Deployments are sometimes sad, but it's the journey that matters the most. You learn, and if not now will one day appreciate you went through it. :)

1/11/2012 05:04:31 am

Love ♥

1/11/2012 05:04:56 am

Love it! A bottle of wine and making friends always helps :)

1/11/2012 05:59:39 am

love you for posting this today. I'm really struggling with an acquaintance that is getting ready to endure her first deployment and she think she knows everything about the army already. It's making me tired defending the army and what we as supportive families stand for.
It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you!

1/11/2012 08:25:07 am

Great job!!

1/11/2012 08:25:35 am

you come be my FRG leader? Love the posting today. Thank you for allowing me a sneak peak of your life.....

1/11/2012 08:33:06 pm

I hope that some of the more "experienced" wives read this too--some need to be reminded of the many positives that come from being an Army spouse. I would not be the woman I am today had I not married an Army guy. I am tougher, more resiliant, and braver than I ever would have been had I married a civilian!

1/11/2012 08:34:14 pm

Well, as a "junior senior spouse" I think that we all need to... LOL! I just had to do it. I really did like this and I find myself giving friends a lot of that same advice...even if I don't follow it all the time.


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