Marrying into the military is taking a crash course, because you learn a lot, and you learn it quickly. Here are the things I have had to learn so far:
1. You learn how to be a military spouse.You learn what it feels like to stand next to them, to be proud of them, to tell people what they do for a living. You learn how lucky you are because your spouse is respectful, appreciative, and loves you not only for who you are, but everything you do.
2. You learn that there isn’t going to be time to fight.I’m a “bottler” in that I hold in my emotions until it becomes too much and they explode. With my husband, there is no time for that, because you have to make the best of the time you have together.
3. You learn how to pick up your life.You learn how say goodbye to everything you have ever known and move. Probably far, far away. And then you learn how to start your new life, no matter how many times you have to zig or zag.
4. You learn how to make new friends.You are going to make a lot of them, and it will seem like you become inseparable overnight. They will be different from your old friends, though, because these people are going through the same crap you are. It doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with everyone you meet; it means be open because you never know who you will connect with. And missing out on lifetime friendships is a really sad thing to think about.
5. You learn you have resources and you learn to use them.Whether it be a Family Readiness Officer or a Facebook group (the Quantico Marine Spouse page has been an incredible help), someone has the answer to your question about where you can get a decent taco. Or margarita. Which is, in fact, just as important.
6. You learn your friends and family might not understand your new life.I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my new friends and I have been asked, “So…what do you do all day?”
7. You learn that even you might not be able to find a job.This can be especially depressing when you have a degree you just can’t wait to use, but nobody needs you right now. This also means that you will not be “bringing home the bacon”, which can become guilt when you spend money. It is so hard to understand that it is “our money”, and not, “the money my spouse works really hard for when I just stay at home and cook and clean and run errands.”
8. You learn to handle things on your own.I never thought I would see the day where I would be able to tell the lady at the dry cleaners, “No. I need this by Thursday,” and she would listen. Or the time I’d be able to call the cable company and complain enough to get a discount on our bill. But I did, and I feel really good about it, because I didn’t have to get snippy, I just had to fight for what I thought was reasonable. It's good practice for the life we have to come.
9. You learn what is important in that moment.I’m not saying that my needs aren’t important, I’m saying that I don’t always need to call my husband and crab about what his dog did today, especially if he has a lot on his plate. You learn to take charge and change the situation when you can, and clue your spouse in when they are really able to hear you.
10. You learn to make the most of your situation.You learn to be optimistic. To enjoy the moments you get together. These could be the best days of your life, or the best duty station of their career, or the closest friends you’ll ever have. For instance, I would say 98% of the people I have talked to say they hate Camp Lejeune, but then I met a wife who said it was her favorite duty station. Your experience absolutely depends on what you make of your situation.
Moriah Lazoritz grew up in small town Nebraska and went to nursing school in Omaha where she met her husband, who is now a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. They have a husky and a German Shepherd Dog/husky mix. She loves to cook, bake, run, drink craft beer, and hang out with the husband. You can read her blog here.