Whenever I meet a new military spouse, it feels like I am playing the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” The popular parlor game “Six Degrees of Separation” is based on the theory that any two people are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. In a more recent twist, players now try to find the shortest path between any actor and Kevin Bacon.
Where were you stationed?
Did you work under MAJ Smith?
What year did your spouse deploy?
Time after time these seemingly simple questions lead to connections I never thought possible! The power of the military spouse network never ceases to amaze me. But why does this network seem to be so much stronger and more pervasive than the average social network? After thought and reflection, these are the two main differences I have identified:
The variety of people you meet in the military is staggering. I have friends that grew up across the country, some even around the globe! Their backgrounds range from those who married their high school sweetheart to those that have their PhD. Many military spouses are veterans who served themselves but decided to get out to support a family and there are some that are still in the service. Some spouses use their home to homeschool their children while others create a home-based business.
Military spouses come from all different types of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, but we are all instantly bonded together by our love of a service member.
This diversity makes for a strong social network, a broad base of knowledge and experience, and a heck of a lot of fun at Bunco nights!
2. Deep connections
Even though you will meet a wide variety of people, military spouses tend to waste little time establishing deep connections. The connections formed don’t result in “dress up and go out for dinner occasionally” friends. We are talking about the “come over in yoga pants with a bottle (or three) of wine and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s” kind of friends. But these connections are more than friends, they are framily-friends that serve as family when you are removed from your traditional family. Framily gets together during holidays, steps up to care for children during sickness and are always willing to serve as emergency contacts. As a military spouse, you better be ready to “do life” with your connections as they will become your support system when your spouse is called away. In short, you can’t “fake the funk” with people who are going to see you at your worst.
I am unbelievably thankful for the numerous hugs and knowing looks my military spouse network has provided over the years. But it’s more than that; since I choose to do my best to maintain a professional identity outside of the home, I have utilized my military spouse network on multiple occasions. I have used the network to meet potential employers, advertise my position vacancy when I began the PCS process, and to gain clients in my executive coaching program.
Additionally, my military spouse network serves as a constant source of motivation and inspiration. I know these spouses have faced similar challenges so it is so encouraging and helpful to hear their tips/tricks.
These tips and tricks enabled me survive our latest move. Not only did a member of my military spouse network serve as a proxy to buy our house while we gallivanted around Europe, but they (along with countless others) recommended doctors, schools, and hairdressers. And most importantly, once we got into town they showed us where the essentials were (and by essentials I mean Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks).
How has your Military spouse tribe helped you?