Adjusting to Life as a Military Spouse
Married life can be quite an interesting adjustment. It can be especially interesting if your spouse is in the Military and you’re new to it all. There are so many things to learn, adjusting from civilian lifestyle, dealing with deployments, acronyms, expectations… it can be overwhelming. No one can truly understand like another Military Spouse. My sister Crystal, graciously shares her honest experience of making that adjustment over the past four years. The highs, the lows, the in-betweens. How did she make it work? Read her story below.
I’m Crystal and I’m a Military spouse. My husband Harry has been serving in the US Air Force for 10 years. He is a C-17 Loadmaster, which means he loads airplanes with materials for deployed troops then accompanies the materials to those locations. I am not that “military wife”, but I am proud of my husband and what he does. Here’s my story of being a Mil Spouse; the struggles and victories in my marriage.
Harry and I are both from Miami, where we met in high school and started dating the end of our junior year in 2004. After graduation we started a long distance relationship, where I went to college in Lakeland, FL and Harry joined the US Air Force and was stationed at Charleston AFB (Air Force Base). We did the whole long distance thing up until the beginning of my junior year of college. I was a communications major and very involved in an on campus national television show and couldn’t balance the relationship, school and my extra curricular activities.
Fast-forward 4 years- One Valentines Day I randomly received a phone call from him. With butterflies in my stomach, I willing answered and the rest was history. A year and a half later we were married on September 8, 2012.
2 weeks after we got married, we moved to Delaware where we’ve currently been stationed at Dover AFB for the past 4 years. That’s when reality hit harder than I ever expected.
When we got married, I knew my husband was a Loadmaster and that’s it. Once we got to Dover, I had to sign up for TRICARE (healthcare insurance), enroll in DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System), learn all these acronyms, get my own dependent ID, get used to being called a dependent not spouse and my husband my sponsor; it was a lot to take in not knowing what to completely expect. I also wasn’t aware that Harry’s job would have him gone at least once a month. Not enjoying life alone in Delaware, anytime he’d be TDY (temporary duty location) for more than a week, I’d hop on a plane back home to Florida. He’d be gone for a couple of days; I’d hop on a train to visit my friends in New York. The two times he deployed, I packed my bags and stayed in Florida. With no job and no kids, I loved that I had the freedom to do that. But I was distracting myself from dealing with our marital struggles which were adjusting to life as is, letting go of life back home in Florida and working on Harry and Crissy 2.0.
As a military spouse, you have to let go of your previous life and quickly adapt to the life you currently have. I suffered way too long from FOMO (fear of missing out). I always wanted to be in Florida for any family and friend events, birthdays and holidays. I was afraid of losing relationships with my loved ones and being forgotten, when the relationship I needed to worry about losing was my marriage to my husband. Harry’s patience with me wasn’t always there, but I thank him for realizing that this lifestyle was new to me and that he just needed to work with me to adapt; I couldn’t do it alone.
Becoming a military spouse I thought I had to portray a role. I thought I always had to attend spouse socials or potlucks. Put on this “hat” because I’m now not just a wife, but a wife to an Airman. I had no mil spouses as friends so I would take suggestions from my civilian family and friends, who tried, but were not familiar with my struggles. I was frustrated so I stopped venting, wrote in my journal and talked to God about what I was going through.
One day Harry sat me down and we cleared the air on what he wanted as a wife. Yeah, backwards, I know since we were already married. But I assumed this is what I should be doing instead of asking him what he wanted from me. He just wanted me to keep being a free spirit, easygoing and enjoy football & outdoor recreation with him. But he also loved that I still at the same time enjoyed cooking in the kitchen making his favorite Cajun Sausage Alfredo and mixing up delicious Moscow Mules. My husband loved me for me and once I accepted that, no one else’s opinions on what I should be doing mattered.
I am an introvert, which means I’m not good at small talk so I’m not the best at meeting new people. There are monthly military spouse socials where I attended a few; I just couldn’t get into it. We do have a Facebook group that I get a little more involved in. The Facebook group is there so we can ask questions, give advice and update each other on life changing events or things going on at the base or in Dover. In the past 2 years I’ve met some friends who are actually AD (active duty) and have helped me adjust even more. One of my friends even though she’s AD is a mil spouse herself. I could go to these ladies with questions and concerns and not feel judged or misunderstood; it was a relief to be finally being understood. I think that was the final piece missing to help me adjust to being a mil spouse. Not realizing it at the time, but these friendships I made are what I needed. They’ve left me feeling full, loved and encouraged. I have and will cherish these ladies forever.
Harry and I found our groove, I was content living in Delaware, being a mil spouse and I’ve made friends. We still had lows, but in other areas.
My health was not the best, but Harry was always there for me holding my hand through biopsies, helping me stay positive through my depression moods and nursing me back to health from two surgeries in 7 months. Those tough times made us stronger and closer.
People always say to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” I just do. You don’t get used to it, you just learn to push through. Anyone that’s married makes some kind of sacrifice and this is the sacrifice that I make. Countless times I’ve showed up to an event without my husband while everyone has their spouse or significant other with them. But I’m content with that. I would say having a long distance relationship before we got married helped prepare me some for this lifestyle. Although I do miss him when he’s half way across the world, I enjoy my alone time just as much. I now have a job working at a winery and I have friends here to help pass the time. Plus, Harry brings back some dope souvenirs like Happy Hippos candy from Germany and wine from Italy! That makes it all worth it 😉
Our first anniversary we did not spend together due to Harry being TDY. But he made up for it and we Space-A (space available) to Germany. And that was just the beginning of our adventures. We’ve Space-A to Spain, California and Hawaii on C-17’s and C-5’s. Even though we’re stationed in Dela-where? Less than 2 hours away is DC and Baltimore; Philly is an hour away and New York a 2.5-hour drive. Our next adventure is PCSing (permanent change of station) to Travis AFB in California this November! I’m sure there’s more lows to come, but with God on our side and Harry and I working together as a team, we can make it through to enjoy the victories.