The park while children play is most often the place of adult interaction these days. Ironically enough, any topic seems to be free game there. Be it financial problems, marital issues, talking through why your neighbor puts their garbage in your trash can, and how you always want to be the you 10 pounds ago are some of the most prominent talking points.
Lately, however; I’ve been a listening ear to new and seasoned spouses alike who have voiced concern about being freighted of being alone through a deployment, or scared of driving anywhere off post, or being even being able to pay bills if their partner is unable to have access to do sp. One acquaintance even told me, “I don’t know how you do it, I’m glad I don’t have to do it,” when referring to being a single parent for long periods of time.
This sense of common fear, discontent and even ignorance (all of which I fully recognize in my own life), really caused me to pause and question to what extent we as spouses do our homework and take responsibility for learning what we need to learn in order thrive over the course of our time within the military dynamic.
Here are three suggestions to build a stronger military spouse community:
1.Take responsibility and put your big people pants on.
You’ve probably heard your grandparents describe, “our generation,” as one that expects rather than works. I loathe generalizations, especially when I see the evidence to the contrary more than I see the actual stereotype. To some extent though, we have to take a look in the mirror and determine if our behavior is reflective on how we want to be and be perceived. Everyone goes through this process at some point in life. What can we do for ourselves to learn more, and be self sufficient? This isn’t a passive aggressive attempt to make others feel like slubs, but rather a call for self evaluation.
2. Ask all the questions.
The task of setting off on our own or striving to being more responsible can be overwhelming, which is why it’s much easier to stay where we are but the old saying about comfort zones applies, “Nothing ever grows there.” The military spouse community for the most part is extremely willing to help those who are striving to help themselves. Let humility be your guide and ask for recommendations, advice, input, and direction and then ACT. Most importantly, take note of what you learn and be an advocate and guidepost for others navigating the same journey.
3. Know you are stronger than you think you are.
The overall message here is this: you are stronger than you think you are. You can handle the deployments, the TDYS, the separations and all the other changes that are absolutely sure to ensue. You can do these things by preparing when the waters are calm.
Educate yourself, ask questions, seek answers, and most of all remember that while initiative and action on your part are essential you are never alone. If you feel alone see suggestion number one. Whatever it is that hinders your ability to reach out to others confront it. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, fatigue or even overwhelming fear of rejection, give it a name and take step forward in combatting it. I absolutely promise that your heartaches are shared and experienced by most of us. You can do and overcome hard things and if you find that your strength is not enough you have a whole community ready to lift you up.
A quick look at the world in its current state will show that now more than ever we need military families that are strong, informed and prepared. We need spouses who are willing to learn, stand, speak and guide. You can be these things. A stronger you means a stronger us. We need your voice and your example, your perspective. WE NEED YOU.Subscribe to Military Spouse's Weekly Newsletter