Marine Corps wife? This life was scary to me when I first encountered it. Sure it was fun to get dressed up for my first ball, but then came the reality of what being married to a Marine was really about. It’s about Semper Fi--Marines are always faithful to the each other, to the Corps, and to our great nation.
Our Marines work tirelessly for honor, Corps, and Country and sometimes family comes second or even third. But as a Marine Corps wife, you’ll discover this is an amazing life filled with gems. Here’s a few things that have worked for me on my military journey…
(Editor's Note: At SpouseBuzz, we are always looking for ways to Live Your Best Military Life. We have ideas for Navy wives, Army wives . Anyone wanna offer their Air Force or Coast Guard tips? Or how about Happy Military Husband tips? Use our contact button to submit.)
1. Don’t give up.The life of a Marine Corps wife can be amazing and there will be hard times. Your Marine will deploy and when they’re not deployed, they will be away training for weeks on end with very long days. Remember why you said ‘I Do’ during those hard times, and make the time count when you are together.
2. Embrace your local community.Maybe you’ve heard the term ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted.' As a Marine Corps wife you may not always get the best duty stations or neighborhoods every time, but make the best of it. It’s going to be a very long tour, maybe even several years if you continually see the negative.
Make friends, travel and discover the area no matter where you’re stationed, even if you get orders to 29 Palms, yes… Twentynine Palms. You just may find that you love hiking in area. You may discover a great restaurant or find a unique park.
3. Don’t forget about you.It gets difficult to follow your Marine around year after year. Sometimes you can’t finish school, keep a job, or make your dreams happen right away. Don’t give up on your goals. Find ways to work towards them, even that seems impossible. Your Military Spouse Journey provides great guidance for planning your Ideal Life Plan.
4. Make your own traditions.If you have kids, traditions are really important. Traditions provide an opportunity for stability where kids can look forward to things happening, no matter where you are living or if your Marine is deployed.
Make up fun and silly traditions like the first meal you eat when you get to a duty station, game night or movie night one day a week, or activities in the summer. You can even do something like give out gallon baggies filled with food and water to homeless in the area when you see someone in need.
5. Volunteer in the local community.This is one of the best opportunities to dig in and meet other spouses but it’s also a great way to find a job. How? Volunteers are the first in line when positions become available. Some non-profits like the Marine Corps Relief Society will even reimburse the expense of childcare, so it’s a win-win!
6. Live it up.Don’t wait for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays to celebrate. More often than not, your Marine will be missing several big occasions. Remember the great feeling you get when your Marine is coming back from deployment? Pick a day and recreate the special moment or day; it provides an opportunity to reconnect and celebrate those special moments when they’re home.
7. Learn about your benefits and use them.There are amazing military programs out there for family members, some of which provide free scholarships for school, training for jobs, transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, military spouse preference program, not to mention the variety of Family Readiness programs by MCCS.
8. Take L.I.N.K.S. (Lifestyles, Insights, Networking, Knowledge, Skills).You are going to move… a lot. So take advantage of this great program put on by military spouses to get you connected to the area and the Corps. If you’re a new bride, I especially recommend this course for you. No matter how many years you’ve been married, there is always something new to learn and implement into your military journey.
9. Join a few clubs.Life in the Marine Corps is better when surrounded by your close friends. I try to join clubs or groups both on and off base for regular activities that I can look forward to getting to know others better.
This is especially important if you are shy or have a hard time opening up to others quickly. I have belonged to a number of groups: wine club, book club, gourmet club, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), workout programs, and more. Give meetup.com a try to see what is in your local area or check with your base.
10. Quit Planning Vacations.This was difficult for me. I love to plan things out and we all know that planning ahead saves money. The needs of the Marine Corps will always take priority and it is difficult to wait until leave blocks are confirmed. If you’re going to plan a vacation, buy travel insurance or look for refundable trips or flexible cancellation policies.
11. Learn the Lingo.There’s a lot of acronyms and cultural customs within the Marine Corps. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Learning the meaning to acronyms and unit structure will help you follow the conversations taking place around you. The Corps is rich in history to include tough battles won, its inception at the Tun Tavern bar, and so much more.
Kristine Schellhaas founded USMC Life in 2009 as a way to help inspire, connect and educate Marine Corps families. Kristine has been recognized as a finalist for Marine Corps Spouse of the Year and has received two military base Spouse of the Year awards. She recently served on Military Officer Association of America's (MOAA) Spouse Advisory Panel, where she is a champion for our children who have been drafted into the military lifestyle and has dedicated more than 10,000 volunteer hours serving military families.