When I married my airman, it was 2006, and I was 19-years-old. As much as I loved my husband, I was still fairly clueless about life in general, without factoring in how much military life complicates a marriage. Fortunately, there were a few books at the time about navigating the military spouse world I was able to read, and I devoured them.
Now, looking around Amazon’s book lists proves the genre has exploded. If you’re a new military spouse, or even a salty one (like me!), there’s some great information out there, and a ton of compelling, interesting and inspiring stories about women and men who love a service member.
So what are my favorites?
Here are the best books for new military spouses.Married to the Military: A Survival Guide for Military Wives, Girlfriends and Women in Uniform by Meredith Leyva
This was the first book I ever read as a military fiancé, and it was a huge help. I had never even step foot on a military base, and the thought of making a ton of mistakes and getting my husband in trouble terrified me. This book had a gigantic list of acronyms (though, not completely expansive, because that’s nearly impossible), and, the biggest help of all -- a sample LES to help me understand his paystub. I have done our taxes and our bills since we tied the knot nine years ago, and I credit that book to helping me get through our first IRS season without pulling my hair out.
The 5 Love Languages Military Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary D. Chapman
I read the original 5 Love Languages book, and it was such an eye opener! It makes complete sense that what I consider to be gestures of love, my husband may not. The military edition offers much of the same information, but with a military slant, and takes into consideration the unique challenges of a marriage strained by deployments and frequent time spent apart.
Confessions of a Military Wife by Mollie Gross
Ready for some comic relief? Mollie Gross is unapologetically honest about her experiences as a Marine spouse in Confessions. A stand-up comedian and author, she has taken her hilarious, sometimes awkward military spouse situations and published them to make the rest of us feel not-so-silly. With the military lifestyle being so historical, so polished, and so traditional, it’s easy to forget that we spouses are civilians who are just doing the best we can, and sometimes that means we accidentally wash a tube of lipstick with our husband’s PT gear. No, that’s not a true story of mine at all, what makes you say that?
Surviving Deployment: A Guide for Military Families by Karen M. Pavlicin
I hadn’t heard of this one before researching, but after all of the stellar reviews on Amazon, I’m going to be picking it up before the next deployment. According to several shining five-star ratings, Surviving Deployment offers advice, ideas and warnings of things to watch for during a deployment. Geared toward families with and without children, the personal stories and experiences of military spouses who have been there, done that will help you feel at ease. The author has several other books geared toward military families, and works to educate schools, organizations and local government on how they can best support the military community.
Chicken Soup for the Military Wife’s Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Charles Preston
Who doesn’t remember emotional nights spent reading the Chicken Soup for the Soul series in all its different varieties as a teen? Now there’s one specifically for military families, and you can bet you’ll need a box of tissues again. For all the tears you shed over these emotional stories, though, the strength and inspiration the storytellers convey in their words is worth the ugly cry. These families have seen the most difficult and emotional parts of the military lifestyle, and from it, they see beauty and strength.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Life as a Military Spouse by Lissa McGrath
Well, it’s right there in the title -- this book was clearly meant for me. Actually, it’s still meant for me, as I have a crazy fear that I’m accidentally going to drive somewhere I’m not supposed to while searching for the BX, and end up surrounded by military police. Guys, I’m just looking for the case lot sale! Basically, this is a guide to all those tiny things every other spouse seems to know except you—how to enroll your kids in DEERS, what to do if you need to file your taxes and your spouse is deployed—the big stuff.
These are just six of the dozens of books by and for military spouses out there. If you need help with any aspect of military life, there’s a book out there for you, from raising a family to starting a business to dealing with deployment and PTSD. Military spouses are a lot of things -- brave, strong, determined -- one thing we don’t have to be is confused.