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Top 8 Most Surprising Things About Military Life

It doesn’t take long in military life to figure out that all of those rumors you heard about how things work and how great it all is were, well, just rumors.

In our travels around the country with Military.com’s Spouse Experience we meet a lot of young spouses who are just getting over the shock of what the military is compared to what they thought it would be. We asked some of them at our events at Marine Corps Base Quantico and Norfolk, Va. what surprised them most about being a military spouse.

Here’s what they came up with:

Top 8 Most Surprising Things About Military Life:

Deployment isn’t the only separation. It’s not that someone told you deployment would be the only time you’d be away from your servicemember. It was probably just an assumption on your part. … But it was wrong. Why? One word: training. If you’re in the Navy, that training happens on a ship far away from shore. If you’re in the Army that training means nights and weekends in “the field.” And training separation feels just about as sucky as deployment separation.

Everything isn’t free. The civilian world sure makes it sound like everything is free once you’re a military family. But we know that could not be more false. While some things are subsidized, many of the things that are actually supposed to be covered (example: moving across the country) end up costing.

There’s no good time to have a kid. You can plan, scheme and daydream that you will somehow be able to work magic and successfully give birth at the perfect time in your military life.  But the truth is this: there is no good time to have a kid. Unexpected absences will happen. If you have a baby now you will have to give up something later. Or if you wait until later you may have to give up something now.

Military friendships are amazing. In the civilian world friends are usually just … friends. In the military world friends are often family.

For the world’s greatest fighting force, the military sure is disorganized. Looking from the outside you’d think they know what they are doing. And they usually do when it comes to defending America. But making sure you get paid? Not so much. How is such a well oiled machine so disorganized?

I am now Ms. Independent. The spouses who came to our Quantico and Norfolk events were surprised by how independent they became after marrying into the military. No one gets married so that they can say “I do it all on my own.” But military spouses make it work every day.

Transitioning from career-person to housewife is hard. When the Quantico spouses added this to their list I had a flash back to a night I spent sobbing on my couch. I had given up my job to marry a soldier and I felt completely lost. Who was I? Over time I figured that out, but getting there was hard.

Military life is crazy AND rewarding. For something that drives us all so crazy with all its ups and downs, we stay military by choice. Why? Because even though it can be infuriating, it’s also rewarding. It has Marines in dress blues. It makes our hearts swell with pride. And we are so glad we are a part of it.

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