By Jaimi Erickson
Contributing Writer

The hardest part of military spouse life is that all our relationships are temporary. What all military spouses have in common is that our normal is a constant state of change. We move all the time: The military moves our families to different places where we will live temporarily and even with homesteading, eventually, you will move.

As a military spouse, every new friend I made met me in a different season of life. I have lived through different seasons with different people. In every new place, I pour myself into building new, but temporary, friendships. Friendships feel permanent for a time, but then, you move and do it all again.

This constant cycle of change can cause military spouses to have friendships without deep bonds. The connection stays casual because we are all figuring out how much to give to each other before starting over again with new people.

Each season of letting go and learning through the transitions led me back to the friendships that seemed to grow naturally. There are people you are drawn to long after you PCS’ed to a new duty station. These are the friendships that last. Our time living near each other may have been short, but the bond we formed continued to grow.

The transitions can be hard on us. One time, as we were headed to our new duty station, I saw two friends walking down the path on base. The sight brought tears to my eyes. I could see them continuing — as we all do — when friends move away from us. It was sad that the space I used to fill was no longer there for them, but I knew future military moves would force those two to move away, too.

We talk about the military lifestyle impacting our careers, yet we don’t talk about how it affects our relationships. Do we lean in just a little to each new set of friends, so we do not have the separation pain when we eventually say goodbye? We do the work of starting groups, just to leave them. We leave people who are not our people, but also leave the people who we want to live near forever. That creates a complicated roller coaster of emotions.

The effort it takes to maintain a positive attitude about being a military spouse does not get enough recognition. Some spouses may choose to dwell on the negative or feel overwhelmed by the challenges. Military spouses give up a lot for military life, but we gain from the process of living through it, too.

There is a certain freedom in the temporary time we spend in one place. It is an invitation to grow, change, and lean into different strengths in different places.

The ability to shed some friends who aren’t a good match and find better friends when you move, is one of the benefits. This relationship-building cycle is an ongoing journey. Now, as my husband works through retirement planning, all the effort I have put in to making friends — and ending friendships — has taught me what kind of friend I need to be. 

Whether I make lasting friendships in our forever location, or make some that fade away, I know how to deal with both. As military spouses, we know there will always be new friends to find.  

About Jaimi Erickson

Jaimi is a mom of 4, military wife, and writer. She blogs about motherhood, kids activities and homemaking tips at The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.

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