One of the most common questions I get from younger spouses I meet is "How in the world do you know so much?! Is there a book or something?!" For those of you who've been around long enough, you know there is in fact a book (though most would argue that some of the information it contains is a bit archaic). While I'd love to say that I read a book and discovered all there is to know about being an Army wife, but that would be too easy, now wouldn't it?
I remember arriving at our first duty station after getting married. My husband was a Lieutenant and had just finished a tour in Korea. I was fresh out of college and WAY (I mean WAY) out of my league. Even though many ladies in the unit were welcoming, I still felt so out of place. One day I was a college senior and it seemed like in the blink of an eye, I was struggling to figure out where I fit in as a newlywed, Army wife and adult in general. If you'd have asked me then if I could see myself where I am now, I'd have probably laughed. It's funny to now be some of the "old people" in the unit with younger spouses coming to me for advice, mostly because I still feel very much like I too am still trying to figure things out.
Now let's agree to disagree if these aren't lessons you've found to be personally true. Perspective is a funny thing, huh? These are the first 5 that came to my mind--probably because I'm in the season of life where these things are most relevant to me as I plan farewells, attend more events than I have since we started this lovely life and balance that with building a business. So here it goes:
5 things I wish I knew as a young military spouse:
1. SPOUSES CAN BE VALUE ADDED
That should have been really obvious, but honestly, it was never at the forefront of my mind. Here's the thing. Very often, Soldiers and Spouses are viewed as a package deal. A supportive spouse who is willing to help in even the smallest of ways is a tremendous asset.
2. FLEXIBILTY IS KEY
In the beginning, this life was rough for me. For a Type A person, planning is key and control is paramount. I had to let a lot of that go. After many late nights, last minute changes in deployment timelines, falling in love with a duty station only to find out we were going elsewhere, I quickly learned that like the Army, I needed a band of excellence. So much of making this life work revolves around expectation management. Besides, bending generally keeps you from breaking.
3. DON'T KNOCK IT UNTIL YOU TRY IT
We all have that list of duty stations we would rather not ever see pop up on PCS orders. Of all our duty stations, I've only had one where I couldn't escape quickly enough. There were other places I thought would be terrible, but ended up being amazing. The truth? Even the worst locations can be bearable with a great network of friends, a bit of exploration and an open mind.
4. SHOP OFF SEASON--THE EVENTS WILL COME.
In no way am I saying shop 'til you drop or operate outside your budget!
Shopping is all fun and games until you need an outfit for a function in the next several days and it seems every dress you like is sold out in your size or way over budget. Thinking about the long term and buying a fabulous cocktail dress at the end of the season at a fraction of the price became my M.O. After all, you can only be "surprised" about having to attend any annual event the first time, right?
5. DON'T REINVENT THE WHEEL
Chances are you will attend a host of functions. Some you'll love, some you won't, but never leave without a takeaway. If you attend a coffee or FRG event and you love the theme, make a note about it in a journal you keep. Get a name tag at a function? Keep it or take a photo. One day your day to host will come and you'll be thrilled to have some great ideas to reference.
What do you wish you knew as a young spouse? I'd love to hear from you!