Advice on Support
Using Resources and Support Groups - Need and use the support resources around you. You'll find groups, programs and services both on base/post and off. When early in a marriage, it's vital that you make use of all you can.
«Find out immediately who your family coordinator on base/post and don't be afraid to ask questions. Know that they're there to help you.
«Link up with Army Family Team Building - or your branch's equivalent - to take classes. Many cover topics like use of military acronyms, rank structure and military etiquette. These classes are a MUST for new spouses. Here are some other services they have available:
- Child care
- Volunteering opportunities
- Extracurricular activities
- Discounted trips through the recreational facility
«Take advantage of the free marriage retreats and seminars through the military or chaplains office even if everything is going great. Understand that if you were the only one having trouble adjusting, these programs wouldn't exist!
«Become actively involved with your unit Family Readiness Group so you'll always have other wives to call when things get tough.
- It's therapeutic to be able to share your troubles and knowledge with each other, and it's wonderful to have others who know what you're going through.
- You can count on your group for social networking, understanding, to help you stay sane!
- Don't ever be afraid to ask questions of other spouses and military members in your unit.
A Battle Buddy is a friend who understands what you are going through and always has your back. Whether you choose another brand new spouse or a more seasoned one, having someone to talk to who really understands can make the transition to military spouse-hood easier. Your Battle Buddy might take different forms.
«Utilize family, friends and other military spouses.
- By allowing those who want to provide support to do so, (whether it is listening or babysitting) you will feel better, and they will know they've made a difference.
- Don't get caught in the "I can do it all" trap. If help is offered, accept it-otherwise it might not be offered again.
- No one else will quite understand how you are feeling the day your spouse gets orders, the day he/she leaves, or even your anticipation as you await his return.
- Your Buddy can also serve as your "guest" at events your serviceperson can't attend, as well as be a shoulder to cry on after a long day.
- Agree to make your friendships "guilt free zones": a good friend will never intentionally cancel plans last minute or not follow through as promised, but sometimes life happens. Allow good friends the "out" when they need it.
«YOU be proactive when meeting new friends.You may be lucky enough to have neighbors that greet you with a Bundt cake or an offer to babysit the minute you move in. If so, great! If not, realize that friends usually don't just come knocking.
«Not all Battle Buddies are created equal.Sometimes the cure for loneliness might be a furry, four-legged friend.
- Pets can serve as a much needed distraction and keep the house from feeling so empty when your serviceperson is away.
Advice on Communication
Everything begins with good communication. Continuing to keep the lines open helps to reduce conflicts, stress and misunderstandings, and increases and strengthens the bonds you have with your new spouse.
«No Excuses -There are so many ways to communicate with each other now that there should be no reason why you can't stay in touch. It doesn't have to be something big...just show that you care.
- I packed a note in his shaving bag reminding him that I love him. He hung that note on his mirror for the entire month he was away.
«Communicate with respect. "Always speak to your spouse as if they were a co-worker." Meaning treat your spouse with the same respect you treat those you deal with in a public manner.
«A marriage is not about "me" or "him", it is about "us" and what we can give to each other.
«ASK for what you need from your spouse. He may not realize that you need an email or card from him at this moment.
Advice on Deployments and Reunions
Being new to the military probably means that you're new to deployments and being separated for extended periods of time. Good advice can be particularly appreciated in this area.
Have realistic expectations
- Deployment changes both of you in both good and challenging ways. Don't assume that when your spouse returns everything will be the same because it won't. It will take time for you to adjust back to "normal" life.
«Realize that we (the family) are also deployed. We need to ensure that our servicepersons' mind in on their mission so they come back home to us. When communicating during deployment:
- Stay positive in your conversations, letters and emails
- Make sure your serviceperson knows how much you love them and how proud you are of them
«I learned to carry my cell phone with me everywhere, even to bed. Sometimes that call at 3am when his shift was starting was good for me because the house was quiet.
«I tried like heck to continue to "date" my husband through the mail while he was on a 23 month deployment. I made it a part of my week to send cards and boxes of love from home.
«If your spouse has to be gone a lot, look forward to the reunions. Make then special and it can help keep your marriage "fresh" for a long time.
«Make sure that when your husband/wife comes home there is some specific time spent on your marriage. Time has passed, and many things have changed. You'll become more independent, have more friends, and be involved in more activities. You don't need to stop those things upon return, but be sure your spouse always knows how important they are in your life.
Advice from your Service Member
Sometimes your deployed serviceperson wants to tell you some things to make your life easier - Here are a few pieces of shared advice:
«During deployments, do not read the paper or listen to the news because it will just upset you. If you need to know something, I will tell you.
«When we get the chance to talk to each other on the phone while I'm away, please don't tell me about everything that's going wrong at home. I want to fix things for you and I will be too far away.
«Get to know your FRG!!
With this Flip Tips book in your pocket, you'll do great! Embrace your new military life and know that you're a member of an exclusive organization, one that's full of pride. This comment sums it up:
"After 19 years I can't imagine not being a military wife!"
This final piece of advice should make you smile!
« "Don't park in a parking space on base or post that has writing on it. It's reserved for somebody...and it's not you!