34 things military spouses wish they knew sooner

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Photo: US Army

No matter how familiar you are with the military culture, no matter how prepared you think you are to embrace it, when you say “I do” to someone who wears combat boots to work every day, there are things you will learn that may never have occurred to you. Some of us pick up on those things quickly, and some of us are still (after decades of this life) figuring things out on a daily basis. We asked a group of our incredible Military Spouse contributors to share some of the things they really wish they had known early on. We want to know, what would you add to this list?

Contributors: Stacy Huisman, MJ Boice, Erin Whitehead, Cassandra Bratcher, Morgan Slade, Kama Shockey, Ashley Frisch, Kate Dolack, Kiera Durfee, Davelda Edgington, Michelle Aikman

  1. I wish I had known to give up on planning as soon as possible. The sooner you give in to having no set plan, the easier everything becomes.
  2. Honestly, I wish I understood what a valuable resource military spouses can be – instead of being afraid.
  3. I wish I had taken all those classes specifically for spouses a lot sooner.
  4. I wish I had known it was okay to ask questions sooner. And who would have the answers! (Hint: It is not usually the service member)
  5. I wish I had known to accept that my husband doesn’t and never will have a set schedule, so I can’t really plan much ahead of time.
  6. I wish I knew how unbreakable military spouse bonds could be.
  7. I wish I had immersed myself in our community sooner. I thought being a National Guard spouse meant being a loner in the military realm, but have come to find that there is a great deal of support and camaraderie.
  8. I wish I had realized that rank shouldn’t be a factor in friendships. We are all in the same boat and anyone who ever tells you they can’t be your friend due to rank isn’t a person you want to associate with anyway.
  9. I wish I had known that it is okay to have a life outside of the military and your military spouse friends.
  10. I wish I had become more involved in the local community, outside of the base, sooner.
  11. I wish I had worried less what others might think of me. If I want to wear a hundred shirts proudly displaying my spouses branch of service…then I will!
  12. I wish I had been more of a tourist at every duty station. There are so many local things I wish I had experienced in every place we lived over the years.
  13. I wish someone had explained what “hurry up and wait” really meant.
  14. I wish I knew that you CAN have a successful career you can take with you everywhere.
  15. I wish I knew we truly are like a family. We have our issues in this community, but when someone tries to attack one of us, we rise up and come to their defense…even we don’t personally know him or her.
  16. I wish that I had known that even though the mission comes first, I don’t always come last. (Understanding THAT little nugget might have diffused an argument or two over time.)
  17. I wish I knew that you can be eligible for unemployment when you lose your job due to transfer!
  18. I wish I knew not to buy expensive furniture in the first year of marriage – only to anxiously watch it moved six times in ten years. Needless to say my stuff is gently bruised, but the upside is discovering the world of IKEA!
  19. I wish I knew I didn’t always have to have a stiff upper lip.
  20. Actually, I didn’t know anything coming into this life and I am kind of glad that was the case! It allowed me to experience baptism by fire and I’m not sure I would have as much faith in myself as I do now if I hadn’t experienced it that way.
  21. I wish I had known to ALWAYS purchase refundable/transferable/changeable tickets, lodging, etc.
  22. I wish I had known how hard it can be to find a career again. I wouldn’t have worried so much and would have enjoyed the new experiences much more…instead of being on a constant job hunt.
  23. I wish I had started planning for retirement years before it is recommended your family does so.
  24. I wish I had taken the time to laugh more, and curse less, when Murphy came to visit. Again.
  25. I wish I had known from the beginning that our collective voices can move mountains and create significant change!
  26. I wish I had known moving overseas is not only harder, but exponentially so. And more complicated. And more expensive.
  27. I wish I had known that reintegration was going to be harder than the deployment itself.~I wish I had known that it was okay to ask for help…that it is not a sign of weakness.
  28. I wish I had known how fast it would go by!
  29. I wish I hadn’t felt the need to spout off my resume to every spouse I met when I first married into military life. It was a sign of insecurity, walking away from my career. Little did I know many other spouses had similar feelings.
  30. I wish I had given my friends who did not understand military life a little more of a break. I now know that you simply can’t understand if you haven’t lived it.
  31. I wish I had learned the signs of PTSD and Combat/Operational Stress sooner…and knew how to help my spouse get the help they deserve.
  32. I wish I knew how strong I would become.
  33. I wish I knew that my definition of “home” and “family” would change over time.
  34. I wish I knew that this life is like a roller coaster. We put on that harness and hang on for the ride, even if we beg for them to stop it sometimes, we barrel along a single track with no control over many parts. We may hit some walls hat are slow to come, then we barrel down. Others are abrupt, we feel our stomachs drop out at the low parts but we also get to throw our hands up in the air! We enjoy the thrill with the other riders then embrace each other when it’s over and say, “that was a wild ride, I would do it again with you guys any time.”

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This article originally appeared at Military Spouse Copyright 2015. Follow Military Spouse on Twitter.

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