By Jaimi Erickson
Contributing Writer

Sixteen years ago, sitting in a room of Marines and their spouses, I was energized to be the ideal military spouse. I had a family member tell me, “You are going to be a great military spouse because you like being a mother hen and taking care of people.” I took that to heart. Everyone I knew had an idea about how military spouses were supposed to support their servicemember. 

Now, years into that military spouse journey, I view life with a wider lens. Life has shaped my experiences as a Marine Corps wife. I have learned that there are many ways for spouses to live this lifestyle successfully — and that there are many ways to be a MilSpouse. Who I have been, in my own military spouse journey, has not involved being stuck in a box or living out expectations of others. I’ve just been myself, shifting into various roles and situations along the way. 

Every duty station presents its own culture. Some have tight-knit neighborhoods, where your village walks right up to your door. In other places, you keep hoping for the village to show itself and, when it doesn’t, you make-do in that season of loneliness. In one location, you may experience deployments without end. In another, your spouse may work a regular nine-to-five job. Being open to exploring duty stations with others and by yourself is an outlook you will need, and it will make military life a little easier if you embrace it. 

Who you will be as a military spouse depends on a few factors that are sometimes in your control and not in other times.  

In my case, I started off wanting to be part of a community. I wanted to be invited into a group because that support looked amazing.  

As a brand-new military spouse, I was invited to join a friend group, which was exactly the iconic military spouse community I was looking for. We had babies together, met for Bible study weekly, and supported each other while our husbands attended a military school altogether. We were all in the same boat and could relate to everything going on in each other’s lives. But eventually, that community fell apart as we each went through a PCS move. 

The next duty station presented the worst-case scenario military spouse experience for me. It was our first time living on a base. I was not meeting neighbors. No one ever came outside. And I could not volunteer with the unit because my husband deployed as an individual augment. 

The two friends I had were my only support. But, in that season where I did not have a solid group, I still could pour into the one-on-one relationships that needed my time. I got to lean into motherhood and learn how to live without family around.  

During the times when my husband was gone a lot, participating in the spouse groups and working at home were my focus. When he was home a lot, our family life and his unit functions took up more time. The circumstances at each place have always changed for me. That affected how I was involved in the social events or why I spent my time focused on home. 

One experience left me with expectations about the next location. Ultimately those expectations caused me to be unhappy for part of my time at each new duty station. There is a certain level of amnesia that would be beneficial each time you move. Starting on a blank slate with what you want to do in that place is the best way to embrace it.  

It’s possible your MilSpouse experience has been more consistent than mine, if you have a career that travels with you. Maybe you have always had solid friend groups to rely on so loneliness has never been a factor. As I said, each new duty station presents a new season of military spouse life for each of us, and we all adapt in our own ways.  

But I do have some advice. If your current duty station is low on community, spend time on a hobby or plan more family events. If your current duty station is the perfect military spouse village, then lean in and enjoy it while it lasts.  

As military spouses, we develop so many skills in community-building and interpersonal relationships. Being authentic to who you are is the most important way to be a MilSpouse. You have special skills and traits that will help you thrive in each new season of your military spouse life. Each one may look very different. No matter which version of a military spouse you choose to be, there is a tribe for you.Being in the military as a spouse is not an easy life, but you can still carve out your path if you embrace the journey. 

Military spouses often downplay their role in their spouse’s career. The fact is, we are often the decision-makers for our families, and it’s up to us to ensure our family is happy, healthy, and prepared for the future. One way to do that is to ensure your finances are stable and protected. AAFMAA’s military spouse life insurance can help assure that your valuable contributions to your family will be covered if something ever happens to you. Knowing you have a solid foundation to stand on will serve you well, no matter where you are. 

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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