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The Curveballs of Military Life

If you would have asked me 10 years ago where I would picture myself at this point in my life I would have answered: a mom, maybe married to some sleek businessman, a writer working on my second book, doing humanitarian work overseas… anything that did not involve the military.  Never would I have guessed that I would marry a soldier.  I like stability.  Roots.  A predictable home. 

Funny how that happens, isn’t it?  You know what your life will look like; you know how you’re going to get from Point A to Point B and have listed all possible diversions and goals between the two.  But as soon as you try to start moving down your own path, in swoops a gigantic curveball you didn’t see coming that knocks you off course.  I would classify marrying a man in the military as a massive curveball, for myself at least.  There is no predictability in that. 

What city do you want to live in?  Orders will come letting you know where home will be.                

Is he going to deploy?  Yes.  But that date could move 4 months in either direction on the calendar. 

Will he be home in time for dinner tonight?  In theory, yes.  But you better make sure that a good episode of Project Runway is on tonight in case his release from work comes at 10 pm versus 5 pm.     

It’s hard to anticipate how difficult this life is.  You can talk to all of the military wives you possibly can, you can read books, you can go to spouse classes, but the only way to truly learn about it is by living it.  It is a hard life to live, but it is possible to live it well.  To accept life and adjust.  It’s easy to resent your husband over the fact that it was ‘his job’ that moved you across the country away from your family and friends and now you’re left to fend for yourself.  But don’t let yourself go there.  It will start an ugly snowball effect that will not be good for yourself or your marriage.

The military life presents you with many challenges, stressors, and yes, opportunities that you likely would not face in another life.  PCS moves, training trips, deployments, new careers, new neighborhoods, new everything are all likely and all almost promised when entering into the life of a military wife.  All are stressful, but can be dealt with in ways that are healthy and productive.  

Whether your husband is deployed, on a TDY trip, or out in the field, much of the time you’re left to fend for yourself.  Embrace this time and use it to take care of yourself.  There are many things you can do to use this time apart for your benefit and growth. 

1.  Learn something new:  Are you ever jealous of your friends that can turn out a handmade crocheted scarf or baby blanket in just a matter of hours?  Ask them to teach you and voila, you now have presents to bring to baby showers that everyone will love.  Have you always wanted to learn to paint?  Cook?  Scrapbook?  Skydive?  This is the time to go learn a new skill.  It will be fun and you might even make some new friends in the process. 

2.  Take classes:  Remember how you wanted to become a Realtor?  Now is the best time; you have more free time to study and become the best realtor your town has seen.  Did you want to be a nurse, teacher, or a personal trainer?  Go get certified and you’ll have a job before you know it. 

3.  Get in shape:  Start walking, lifting weights, or running a few times a week.  It’s a great way to release any pent up feelings you have inside that you didn’t realize were there.  You’ll feel better about yourself, and let’s be honest, it will just make homecoming that much more fun. 

4.  Plan date nights:  With your girlfriends.  Any "Grey’s Anatomy" fans out there?  Get a group together, show up an hour early to drink wine and chat and then watch the show together regularly.  Make Mondays your night to meet up for margaritas and tacos.  Find a playdate group to meet with at least once a week.  The possibilities are endless. 

5.  Travel:  Go visit that friend in New York who is studying at culinary school.  Grab another wife of a deployed man and go tour through Europe. 

Experience life.  It doesn’t only exist when you can share it with your hubby.  Yes, memories are that much sweeter when shared with him, but you can use the time of him away to do things that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to do otherwise.  Embrace this time, appreciate it, and use it for good.     

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