In honor of military appreciation month, we found it fitting to provide some tips for people like us. Being a military couple (active and non-active duty) will stretch your marriage, but we think there are some key things that will help a long the way.
For us, we came into marriage with the military being a major component. Monthly drills, weeks to months of training at a time, conference calls, meetings, and promotions are just a part of the game. Even when only one spouse is military and the spouse is a civilian, the whole family becomes military. It truly becomes a lifestyle of sacrifice.
Here are 4 areas that we find to be most important:
Inclusiveness – In every way possible, it is important to include your spouse in all aspects of your military life. Usually commands have events during the holidays, which is a opportunity to invite your spouse to meet the people you are always with or talking about (I mean talking to) In addition, it helps to include the civilian spouse in decision making. Major decisions should be made together because you are a team and one decision affects the whole family.
Prioritize – (For the service member) Remember your unit can handle your absence far better than your family. Keep the main thing the main thing. We know this is difficult to do because the military is mission-focused, but you can get creative. Whether that is requesting time off, asking for flexibility or making decisions after consulting your family, the end result provides security and demonstrates that the family’s well being is the priority.
Support Channels – Take full advantage of all of the resources available to you and your family. This takes some investigating and digging! There are helpful workshops, services and resources offered on bases and through the command but most of the time you have to ask. Also, find families that share the same values as you and your spouse and try to do life together.
Communicate – This actually is number 1. Ongoing honest and open communication about the present and the future is needed. Questions like, “how long will you serve at this duty station”, “How long do you want to serve in the military”, and “what expectations come with this new role” are extremely important. Find a way to share your plans, upcoming deployments/training’s/activities, and schedule with your spouse. There are great apps like google calendar that allow you to share calendars and color code so that everyone is abreast of what is happening. Recently, for us, we started a weekly family recap/preview meeting to discuss the past week and the week ahead, which is helpful in becoming more aligned and organized. Nothing compares to being on the same page with your spouse and understanding the vision.
To all military couples/families: Thank you for your service!
Please share any tips that you have!
Marissa & Joseph