It was never difficult for me to adjust to new surroundings or meet people. That is of course, until I became a military spouse. As military spouses we are constantly starting over and reinventing ourselves, our homes, our careers and our friendships.
Thanks to this crazy life we’ve gotten good at job of starting over. Whether you’ve been a military spouse for one year or twenty, you are a wealth of knowledge and an excellent resource for others. Mentoring those coming up behind us is a responsibility we all share, and doing it makes us better as a community.
How do we find information, make friends, share what we have learned and mentor each other throughout this journey? Here are some ideas.
Networking with military spouses and others within your local community are excellent ways to gather information. Getting ready to PCS? You or your spouse may already know someone living in your next destination. Leverage online resources and social media to join the spouse page once you have orders.
Research community websites such as real estate, school and local chamber of commerce resources. If a house hunting trip isn’t feasible, use video chats to learn about a community with your own eyes. Ask around at your current unit and within your own social media networks to determine who has helpful connections and ask them to make an introduction.
I will never forget when someone told me “it’s too bad your husband is in the military because I like you and wish we could be friends.” Unfortunately, military spouses are often viewed as temporary members of the community. We move every few years, and sadly some people would rather not have you in their lives because we leave.
That’s why some military spouses prefer to stick together. There is a common bond that unites us instantly. There are many approaches to tackling military spouse life, yet the end goal is the same: to find people you connect with in order to feel at home no matter where you live.
Reinventing ourselves is part of being a military spouse. But forging the bonds of true, lifelong friendship is an entirely different story. True friendship doesn’t happen overnight, and it can’t be forced. Meeting people outside of the military is a way to expand your friendship options. Lifelong friends from this journey can be military, or not.
I have witnessed many different approaches to tackling military spouse life. There are some who love the spouse group itself or thrive at book clubs and bunco. Others prefer playgroups, group fitness, sports, dinners, happy hours or attending church. There are spouses who do lunch and coffee, and then there are some who just can’t be bothered by any of it at all. Some find it easy to meet people through school or work. What if you don’t have children or a job? Volunteering on base or in the local community for a cause you are passionate about, are all excellent ways to make friends.
Once you’ve been in the community for a while, you start to see ways you can help others with the information you’ve learned. But to know what needs to be shared, you need to know people to share it with -- and know what they need.
We all have reasons to need mentoring and we all have reasons to be mentors. Spend some time finding out where you can use the skills and passions you have to mentor others. It’ll look different for everyone.
Military spouses are described as being resilient, dedicated, supportive, adaptable, flexible, selfless and strong. But to get there we need support from each other. Let’s take our past experiences and put them to use for the greater good. Do for another spouse what you wish someone had done for you, and we’ll build that collective strength that makes us our own greatest asset.
Sarah Benson is a seasoned military spouse with a background in sales, marketing and nursing. She writes about her life, career and island experiences in order to inspire other military spouses.
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