Let me just start this off by saying I haven't been doing this very long and still have a lot to learn about living a military life, but during my time as an army wife these are some of the things I have found to be true so far...
1. Plan on things never going as planned.
I don't even know where to start with this. Chad and I have made so many plans over the past year and half, everything from where we could spend the Holidays (he couldn't make it home), what we would do for my 21st (he wasn't there), when our wedding date would be (we changed it 4 times), what city we would live in (we didn't get a say). I have flown across the country after not seeing him for months only to land in Georgia and be told that due to weather conditions they could not complete their jump and therefore would not graduate as scheduled. I sulked. And sulked some more. We planned to go to Thailand on our belated honeymoon in November of this year and because he wasn't told the exact dates of his leave until a couple weeks beforehand, we had to cancel and I was SO SAD. I was planning on laying on a white sand beach sipping something fruity and alcoholic and blowing up Instagram with our grand adventures and instead we ended up road tripping to Arkansas. Which by the way, was still a great time. I reveled in the bitterness for a couple days and then we made new plans. The only advice I can offer on this is to always have open lines of communication. I was sad every time our plans changed and if you aren't careful, resentment can seep into your relationship. I am an avid traveler and there are only a few things in this world I love more than the ability to be able to pick up and leave at the drop of the dime. One of them would be Chad (Obviously. Cue eye roll.) I knew that I couldn't shut off my feelings of disappointment about having our trip canceled so I did the next best thing, talked to him about it. I said things like "I know you're really disappointment too", "I'm really sad about this but I know it isn't your fault.", "We'll get to go another time".
2. Be crazy flexible...all of the time. always.
Yeah. This point is on every blog post I have ever read on military life and being a military spouse but wow is it true. Since nothing ever goes as planned (reference point #1), you just have to be very flexible. If you make plans, plan on them changing. Be okay with it. As I am sitting here writing this blog post Chad texted me "on my way home!" then two minutes later "Nevermind". No joke people. Everything from what time they get off of work to when they get leave time will change on a moments notice. Be prepared to eat alone. Be prepared to get a "see you tomorrow" text instead of a "see you for dinner" text without any notice. Feel free to be super bummed about it but do so while knowing it isn't their fault and they hate it way more than you do.
3. Get so use to "I don't know"
Let it seep into your soul. It will become your life. What time will you be home? "I don't know". When can we take that trip?......just..no. They don't know. Just assume they have no idea and you'll save yourself a lot of frustration. Just kidding. You'll still be really frustrated but at least you knew the answer before you asked the question. What makes this so much worse is that your family and friends don't understand "I don't know". They will ask you every question under the sun and they answer will almost always be an unwavering "I DON'T KNOW". Unless someone is living a military life they will not understand how uncertain your future is. "When will they be deployed?" They don't send soldiers home with permission slips for their husbands or wives to sign and send back with them the next day. He could be gone at a moments notice. He could have to board a plane going to who knows where while I am at work and unable to say goodbye, or he could have to jump out of bed in the middle of the night and leave.
4. Keep doing the things you love
The place you are stationed will change, and not always for the better. I'm going to level with you all, I don't love the town we're in. I was spoiled in beautiful small town Northern California, and nothing can possibly compare to home for us. It's easy to focus on all of the things I don't love about this southern military town. I love going to the gym, it's something that makes me genuinely happy and helps me when I'm stressed out or feeling down. When we got here to our first duty station the first thing I did was find a gym I liked. I try to make it there as much as possible because I know that the amount of exercise I am getting directly effects my mood (my mom loves reminding me of this). Military life brings a lot of stress and reasons to be cranky so doing small things that make you happy or make you feel more at home are essential! If it's crafting that you love then find your nearest craft store and make the living room floor your work space! If it's biking then hit the trails! If it's shopping....then maybe find a different hobby (that military budget though).
5. Reach out
When I first got here, I went from going to school, working full time and spending all of my free time with friends to being bored and lonely for the first couple of months. It took that long to get moved into our house and for me to find a job. Being in a new city without any of the familiar comforts of home was hard at first. You don't know where has the best coffee or even how to get home without GPS giving you step by step instructions. You don't know what aisle the milk is on or how to avoid traffic on the main roads during rush hour. It can be disorienting moving to a new town and it brings on a whole new set of emotions. Chad was the best at making me feel more at home and being gracious and loving when I was having a hard time but while he was working I was alone. For a while I just tried to occupy myself and not reach out to my friends and family but after a while I started to just call up my old friends and be totally honest with them about how I was feeling. Telling them that I was feeling bored or lonely and asking if it was okay if I called them more. Of course everyone was fine with it and completely understanding. You don't get the support and help you need if you don't ask for it. After a while those feelings subsided for the most part and now I know what aisle the milk is on and where has the best coffee but when I am having a hard day I know I can always reach out to my friends and family to give me the support I'm needing.
They have SO. MUCH. STUFF. It takes over your garage floor, your laundry basket, your life. And it all has a very specific purpose that you will absolutely not understand...."so wait...why do need three of them?"
7. Just let it go.
The little arguments that come up on the day to day of being in a relationship with someone can break a long distance relationship. Imagine this...you get upset over something little, it causes an argument, you're both feeling hurt, but then the both of you apologize and you get to come together and hold hands, lay together on the couch or get that hug you need to feel that connection again. But now imagine it without the happy last part. It can be very difficult to pull yourselves out of a rut when it's started while long distance because there is no physical connection. You can't look them in the eyes and have a heart to heart over dinner and hash things out properly. You're left with a phone call or maybe a Skype call if you're lucky. And let me tell you, you feel all the distance between you on the phone. There is no warmth to a conversation. It can be hard to get yourselves back to 100%. So I learned to just try my best to avoid starting arguments, and when you do this you realize how many arguments are completely pointless anyway. I'm not saying sweep everything under the rug, if there is something big that needs to be talked about then by all means, talk about it. But if you're getting upset over a tone of voice they have or them spending Friday night with friends then just better to not go there.
8. Above all, stay positive.
Your attitude is everything when it comes to military life. If you are set on being down about something, I promise there is something you can be down about. But at the end of the day there are a lot of positives too. We have spent a lot of time apart due to Chad's service in the Army, we are yet to spend a single birthday together (January, fingers crossed.), we have possibly had more Skype dates than real ones. We have canceled trips, had plenty of let downs and finances are tight (nice way of saying WE BROKE.) But we also are able to own a home at 21 and 23 because of the Army. We are getting the opportunity to really experience the other side of the country and we have overcome many obstacles with maturity because of lessons we have learned while living this lifestyle. Your attitude will directly effect your spouse. If you are always pessimistic about the difficulties then they will have a harder time overcoming those as well. Keep your head up, find a way to laugh about the hard times because there will plenty, and know that better days will come.