I know what you’re thinking, mainstream society (and Army Wives) would have you believe such people do not exist. But we do. We are few and far between and you might have to look for us, but we’re there at family day, homecomings, balls and FRG meetings.
We are child-free.
It’s almost seen as taboo to not have children in the military and navigating peoples' sometimes inappropriate questions can be a minefield. Throw in the fact that my husband and I are verging on 30 and were married pre-military, and peoples heads seem to want to implode. "What? Don't you WANT children!?"
Being a child-free military couple has many challenges, but the top one may come as a surprise:
It goes like this: you're child-free for whatever reason and at a new duty station. You feel surrounded by families with 2.5 kids, giving you side eye for talking about your latest couple-getaway or, in my case, your three absolutely spoiled dogs.
Maybe you don't want kids. Maybe you don't want kids now. Maybe you do want kids, but can't have them. Maybe you lost a baby.
No matter what the reason, you feel completely alone. Are you really the only spouse in the joint free from the "joy" of perpetual diaper changes.
Probably not. The rest of us child-free folks are feeling isolated just like you. But how do you find us?
Three foolproof tips for finding child-free friends:
Facebook is your friend. Facebook is everyone's friend, really. Just about every duty station has Facebook groups for everything from selling be for selling your stuff to finding a babysitter. Do a quick search for a local child-free group. If one doesn't turn up anything ask around in other local groups. If you’re lucky one is already made, but if not take the initiative and make one yourself. You’ll be surprised by how many child free individuals will come out of the woodwork.
Get involved. If online friendships aren’t your thing then get out and about. Go to the gym, FRG meetings, library, or maybe volunteer. Introduce yourself to cool people and ask about the area if you’re still new. Will every introduction be a homerun? No, but by putting yourself out there you get the lay of the land and enlarge your social circle at the same time.Be open to befriending people with kids. I know, you're thinking "what?" As a child-free couple, the immortal words of Run DMC have never been so true, “It’s TRICKY to rock a rhyme..” It CAN be tricky to be friends with couples who have kids. It can be hard to relate to poopy diapers and the never ending debate on breast feeding. I don’t advocate one or the other, but it’s definitely possible to have a meaningful friendship with someone who has kids. You can’t help who you hit it off with so try and stay open minded.
The military spouses know live by the saying “bloom where you are planted. To me that means embracing a change in surroundings and staying positive.
Making the best out of every new duty station can be hard, but so instrumental in cultivating lasting friendships. Child-free or not, we’re all in this together and you need to be willing to put yourself out there!
What are your tips for finding child-free friends?
Renee is a child-free by choice wife currently stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky. Her current addictions include thrift stores, Publix subs, and Pinterest.