YDU: Happy MilFams Don't Happen By Accident


Why Didn't You Tell Me ... happy military families don't happen by accident?

My son’s 16 year-old girlfriend looked around at our family Valentine celebration with some puzzlement.  Maybe it was the crazy handmade cards.  Maybe it was the weird Beef Wellington cheer.  Or maybe this nice girl was trying to figure out how a love-fest happened in a house with an 18 year-old cynic and a kid on the autism spectrum and job hunting college grad and a sailor who only came home on weekends and a mom who borders on the criminally overwhelmed. I could almost see this girlfriend thinking: These people have no idea how lucky they are.

I caught that look and suddenly felt like the fierce father defending the hard work of family building and home making in Marisa de Los Santo’s novel Love Walked In.

“Do you think this happens by accident?” the father demands. “Happiness isn’t what happens when you whistle along, pretending bad things don’t exist…Happiness is earned, like everything else. Happiness is achieved.”

Where do you learn that better than in a military family?  Happy celebrations don’t happen out of a clear blue sky.  Military life demands that you make an extra effort when you get the chance because those are the only chances you have.  You have to make yourself learn how each member of the family receives love best.  You have to learn how to get buy-in from each person before you do any kind of family event.  You have to fight and cry and try something new before you hit on what works—and then cling to your successes like a life raft.

Happy military families don’t happen by accident.  Happy military families are earned. Happy military families are achieved by a man and a woman working hard to keep it all moving forward.

I know this is true.  That is why we are introducing this new Why Didn’t You Tell Me… or "YDU" feature to SpouseBuzz. At our SpouseBuzz Live events all over the country, our readers have stood up to tell stories of how they learned to conquer some aspect of military life. The stories are funny, sweet, heartbreaking, powerful. The stories almost always start out with Why Didn’t You Tell Me…The stories always end with something really useful to apply back home — kind of a Spark Notes for military life.

So here we invite you to tell a story kind of like mine. Tell us a story about something you learned about marriage or kids or school teachers or living in a small community or falling asleep when you are worried. Military life is lesson after lesson. Trial and error. Strategy after strategy. We want to hear what you learned. So check out our guidelines below and write soon.


Guidelines for Why Didn’t You Tell Me

  • Who:  Anyone connected to military life can tell a story.  You don’t have to be a professional writer, you just have to have a meaningful story.  Any spelling mistakes and things like that will be fixed before publication, no problem.  This is also a good place for first time bloggers to contribute.
  • What:  Any topic that touches military family life—long distance relationships, dealing with the command, bad bosses, good bosses, child rearing, pregnancy, dealing with schools, team sports, home making, living in a too-small community, the jobhunt...surprise us.  Because of the volume of submissions, only the best stories will be published.
  • How:  Start your story with the words: Why Didn’t You Tell Me___________________.  Then fill in the blank with the one line lesson.  Next write your story.  It should be about 500 words, but we aren’t sticklers for that.  Just tell the story as well as possible.
  • When:  Start now.  The first rule of writing is that writers write.  The first rule of blogging is that the best project is the one that can be completed in the time allotted. Submit your story through our contact button here.
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