I have a long list of things I’ve gotta stop doing in my own life. I gotta stop filling my car with drink cups. I gotta stop bingeing on Netflix. I gotta stop thinking of Taco Bell as a food group.
So I was curious when a group of seasoned spouses at Military.com Spouse Experience Joint Base Lewis McChord put together this list of things they have to stop doing in their military lives (BTW they also came up with a list of things to START doing which we will share later).
They weren’t telling other people what to do. They didn’t all agree on every item on the list. But they all had at least one thing they had to just stop doing. What’s on your list?
1.Stop procrastinating.So often military life is made better by getting something done. File your PCS claim. Fix your lame LinkedIn account. Check to make sure you are really signed up for SGLI.
But we put off those things because they are painful or boring or complicated or make us question our own existence in the world. Spouses say if you cut those procrastination-triggering jobs into itty bitty pieces, you can actually get them done and feel a lot better.
2.Stop expecting your soldier to be home.By the time you have been married to someone in the military for, say, five years, you KNOW that their time is not their own. But that doesn’t prevent us from expecting them to be home.
That doesn’t stop us from expecting the Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to stick to the schedule that they set for themselves! Weird, huh?
Although it would be awesome to develop some kind of zen peacefulness that would allow us to be at one with a soldiers absence, only the few ever achieve it. Oh, but we can strive to be one of the few.
3. Stop believing in Facebook.How many times do we have to read that Facebook makes people more anxious before we understand that comparing is not connecting? The life that people live on Facebook is not the life they really live? Sociologists call it “presentation of the self.” Look it up.
4. Stop thinking someone else will fight for your benefits.This is the one I’ve got to work on. I always assume that our military benefits will always be just the same and that they will be the same for everyone in every future generation. Right now, things are rocky at the DoD. Join one of our helper groups to add your voice because they need you.
5. Stop complaining.Show me someone who doesn’t complain and I’ll show you someone who isn’t paying enough attention. I believe in a little complaining. But as this group noted, complaining (and other kinds of negative thinking) is like eating potato chips. Once you get started, it is hard to stop—especially when you are in a group that does a lot of complaining. What would happen if you decided to keep your complaints to yourself for a month? Would they go away?
6. Stop cultivating toxic people.We can be too nice. We can give the benefit of the doubt too often. We gotta stop making excuses for the toxic people in our lives. Maya Angelou was doing all of us a favor when she noted, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time.” This is why Caller ID was invented.
7. Stop assuming that the man is always the military member.We all know that fifteen percent of all military members are female. And gay marriage is legal. So it is likely that some of the people who are part of our military lives are male spouses, right? So how about 15% of the time, you assume the female in the couple is the service member?
8. Stop waiting for friends to make themselves.There are certain times of your life in which friends just appear. Sometimes you live in one of those magic blocks of military housing. Sometimes your breastfeeding class turns into a million playdates. Sometime the friends you make at work are like sisters.
Then again, some times those situations produce absolutely no friends. When friends have not appeared, we need to stop excusing ourselves as being bad at making friends and start working at it.
9.Stop living like you are about to move and settle in.Move too often and all the sudden you find that you are living like orders will arrive tomorrow. Let yourself paint something. Get rid of something. Invest in something. Plant something. No one knows what tomorrow will bring.
10. Stop thinking civilians have it better.Civilians don’t live magical lives in which their husbands and wives are home every single time they want them and friends live next door for life. None of us picked civilians to marry. We each picked someone with a military life. We can manage that, if we just stop doing certain things…
These aren’t unusual things to tell yourself to STOP doing. Do you have anything surprising we should add to our list?