Army Newlywed In Her 40s: Help This Spouse!

When you are an Army newlywed in your 40s, you probably think of that quote from When Harry Met Sally: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

We get that at SpouseBuzz. When you fall in love with someone in the military, that soon-as-possible stuff always seems to happen sooner than you ever felt possible.

So when we got this message from Robin, an Army newlywed in her 40s who had a 60-hour workweek and a life to match before she married her soldier, we could totally sympathize with her problem:

I'm a new military spouse. I'm not a twentysomething wife. I'm 45. My husband is a new Army Recruiter and it's my first military move.

I'm trying to adjust to not working, finding my way in a new city... I'm at a loss as to what to do with myself. Depression is quickly setting in. Is there a group I can join to have contact with someone who has been in my shoes?

If you already know of a group Robin would like, please let us know in the Comment section below. And if you have been in her situation, tell us about what you did (and what you wished you didn’t do!) Here is our advice for a newlywed on recruiting duty:

1. Welcome to recruiting duty.  Sigh...

Anyone who has accompanied their soldier (or Coastie or Marine or airman or sailor) on recruiting duty knows that this spouse is in a tough spot.

Even for new female spouses in their twenties with little kids, recruiting duty is notorious for how difficult it is to make friends. The smaller your new city or town and the smaller the size of the recruiting station, the harder it is to meet anyone. So remind yourself stoutly that this isn’t a personal problem.

Instead this is a situational problem. Make a list of ten times you have already faced a tough situation—and managed it just fine. This is recruiting duty thing is going to make it on that list of things you triumphed over.

2. This is 40, Military Wife.

According to the Department of Defense, about 1 in 5 military spouses are over age 41. In some ways, this is a good thing: 40 has all kinds of perks 39 knows nothing of.

The problem is that those of us in our 40s have a harder time making friends when we move. Researchers have found that as people move toward their 40s and 50s, they interact with fewer people and they tend to concentrate on the friends they already have. So even as we are inclined to draw down our friendships, so do all of our possible new friends in the military and civilian communities.  Dang it!

Interesting factoid, but not particularly helpful when you are the one without friends, right?

Wrong! You gotta…

3. Expand when everyone else is contracting.

If the problem for people in their 40s is that we draw down the friendship circle, the answer is to expand the number of people you meet. This is the time to add a class, a group, an activity at church (if you are a churchgoer), a Weight Watchers meeting (chatty folks at Weight Watchers, I’ve always found), an exercise or dance class, a landscape gardening class, a motorcycle club, a language class. (Read Evening Class by Maeve Binchy to get the idea.)

Then expand the definition of people who you are willing to be friendly with to include younger people and older people and people who live further away and those who have three heads or whatever.  Tell yourself you are warding off Alzheimer's by trying new things.

Will you feel dumb? Absolutely! But that feeling is temporary. Keep working at this until you find an activity that makes you feel better.  And send us the list of things you tried and how that worked out for you.

4. Keep looking for a job.

For most spouses in their 40s who never had kids or whose kids have already moved out, the answer to a new place is a job. Again, this isn’t easy (don’t make me bore you with all the studies on spouses and work!!!).

Yet it is the best option. As one of my fave professors in college used to point out how a job improves all aspects of life—somewhere to be, someone to know, something to do, something to talk about, money to spend.

So don’t give up. Even if you end up with a job that is not quite in your field, recruiting duty lasts a good two or three years. IMHO, something is better than nothing.

And thing is, when you are a newlywed, you have something. You have love. You have another chance at happiness. And that kind of something requires something from you in exchange.

So what would you do if you were/are in Robin’s shoes?

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