I would be lying if I said I always felt grateful to be a military wife. Sometimes I feel bitter about all of the sacrifices I made, like leaving my family and friends and moving away from the city of my dreams; but then I remember why I decided it would all be worth it – my beautiful husband whose love fills my heart every day.
Having him by my side is undoubtedly what I’m most grateful for, but I also try to remind myself of the multitude of other benefits that come with being a military spouse, especially during the holidays. And while I’m lucky to have him with me this Thanksgiving, I know that won’t always be the case. On future deployments, remembering the good will become even more necessary to make it through those trying times.
Here are just 10 of the reasons I’m thankful to be a military spouse. I’d love to know yours!
10. Having an Excuse to Travel:
I had absolutely no plans to ever leave the Northeast. I loved Philadelphia, and I loved New York, and living anywhere else seemed like a waste. Then I married a service member and lost all control over where I called home. Now I’m here in Charleston, South Carolina, and while I don’t think I would want to call the South my forever home, I’m so grateful I have the chance to spend a couple years in a beautiful city with great parks, perfect beaches and amazing restaurants I otherwise probably never would have seen. I’m not sure how many other states I’ll live in, but I know I can be thankful for each and every one.
9. Seeing My Husband in His Uniform:
I had to mention the uniform. When my husband walks through the door in his Navy Working Uniform, I swoon over how handsome he looks. The first time I saw him after he got through boot camp, I almost fainted. I don’t know what it is about a man in uniform, but it just works.
8. Knowing My Husband is Happy
My husband tried college and hated it. He felt forced into his major and wasn’t passionate about any of his courses. After, he took a job as a bartender where he felt stuck. Getting into the Navy gave him confidence and a purpose, and it was inspiring to see him excited about his future. No, this isn’t the lifestyle I would have chosen for us, but I want nothing more than for him to be happy, and I don’t think any other career would have made him feel the way he does about being a part of the military.
7. Being Pushed Out of My Comfort Zone
I love my comforts. I love going to the same place every morning for coffee, seeing the same friends every weekend, and knowing I can drive back home whenever I have a bad day. I went to college close to home and kept the same friends since high school. Even moving on from sweaters or dresses from my teen years makes me emotional.
All that changed when my husband joined the military. At first, it was extremely difficult living in a new, very different place. I had no support system, southern food made my stomach hurt, and I seriously missed my Mom. There were days when I considered packing all my bags and heading back home, but I’m glad I didn’t. I needed to let go of some of those comforts in order to grow and see that I could adjust.
6. Testing My Independence:
Learning to adjust goes hand-in-hand with finally testing my independence. Like many people, I hate being alone. I love having someone to spend all of my weekends with and to know that if I have a bad day, I can come home to my husband’s affection. But being a military spouse requires me to have some level of independence. Oftentimes, my husband won’t get home until late at night, and there will be months in the near future where we won’t see each other or even be able to communicate. It’s not ideal to be forced into independence, but I know how beneficial it will be for me to live alone and find new ways, as I slowly am now, to enjoy my “me time” and cope with my feelings on my own.
5. Meeting New People:
It took me a really long time to form any friendships after our move, but after truly trying for the first time in my life to meet people, I ended up finding someone who I hope will be a lifelong friend, getting close with my inspirational coworkers, and having some pretty great conversations with people completely different than my friends back home along the way.
4. Being Exposed to New Perspectives and Opportunities:
And on that note, being a military spouse has opened up my eyes to new perspectives on everything from serious social issues (e.g. domestic violence) to foods (e.g. chicken and waffles) I never would have tried.
Before moving to South Carolina, I was convinced I wanted to be a women’s magazine editor, but when I first got here, I began volunteering for a rape crisis center (which I now work at) and learned so much from advocates and survivors. I’m not sure I ever would have gotten that experience if it hadn’t been for the military. Relocating helped me explore my options and made me realize how wonderful a change in direction can be.
3. Getting Discounts:
So it’s not the most important part of being a military spouse, but who doesn’t love a 10 percent discount at Banana Republic, a few bucks off frozen yogurt, or a free entrée on Veterans Day? (Here are the 2015 deals for 11/11!) I ask every time. No shame.
2. Being Part of a Community:
It’s nice to know I’m a part of something. Even though I moved off base, I feel a sense of comfort when I go back to pick up my husband or grab groceries. I’m less worried about deployments knowing I have resources, and whenever I have a question, I can ask a fellow spouse on social media. Plus, it always warms my heart when I see how quickly military families are willing to lend a helping hand when someone needs help moving, is struggling financially, or simply needs someone to talk to.
1. Enjoying the Little Things:
As military spouses, we learn quickly to enjoy the little things, and I think that’s a pretty beautiful part of life. I’m giddy when I actually get to have dinner with my husband on a weeknight, and I savor the weekend mornings when I wake up, and he’s next to me sleeping. Of course, I would love a little more time with him, but we’ve quickly learned to enjoy each moment we do get, and that’s something I’ve tried to carry over to all the relationships in my life.
Photo Credits: Allie Jones, David Jubert, Crystal Johnson, Jenah Wieczorek
… what are your top 10 reasons you’re grateful to be a Military Spouse?