I didn’t know what to expect when I married Zack. I knew nothing about the military or the lifestyle. I hadn’t done any previous research on it or asked others for opinions and advice. Nothing. I’ve now been a military spouse for about two and a half years now and I’ve learned that being a military spouse is quite the experience. It’s full of so many amazing moments while at the same time it can be incredibly frustrating and challenging. It’s like a roller coaster. It has its highs, but then it also has its lows. Only those who live it truly understand it. I had no idea that living this lifestyle would change me, but it has in so many ways.
I’ve become more independent.
With Zack being on the other side of the world and having a crazy work schedule when he’s here, I’ve been forced to become a bit more independent. Which is something I’ve really never had to do before. In the last decade, I’ve been single for a total of 6 months. That’s it. I’m a long term relationship kind of person. I was with my high school boyfriend for almost 5 years, my college boyfriend for almost 2 and now I’ve been with Zack for almost 3. I’ve never had to be independent. But since Zack’s not around as often as I’d like, I’ve had to find a way to get through the day without him and do things on my own when he can’t be here.
I can handle taking care of the dog and fixing things that might be broken. I’m able to manage the finances and make sure the bills are paid and that the car doesn’t completely die. There’s nothing I can’t figure out on my own, but that’s mainly because I really have no other choice but to figure it out on my own. I’ve also learned to create a schedule based off of me and no one else. I do what I want rather than having to cater to someone else’s schedule, wants, and needs. When he leaves, I’m not left wondering what to do because I have my own life. I can handle being alone (as best I can, anyways. Being alone isn’t my favorite thing in the world). As much as this year apart sucks most of the time, I really am thankful for this time I’ve had to myself and I like feeling like I don’t solely rely on Zack for everything. I’ve grown so much as a person and as a wife and I know I’ll feel refreshed and better than ever by the time he returns home.
I’ve become more appreciative.
I talk all the time about how much I love my life and how thankful I am for it. I’ve learned to appreciate the time I have with Zack no matter how short it may be. I’ve learned to be happy with a single ‘I love you’ text without getting upset that we can’t have more of a conversation. I appreciate every day off he has and every chance I get to tell him I love him. I try to make the most out of every situation and enjoy the time we have together rather than thinking about the amount of time we’ll have apart. Now that he’s on the other side of the world, I’m even more appreciative of everything he does for me and for us when he’s home. He works so hard and takes on so much without complaints.
Not only am I appreciative for Zack and everything he does, but I’m appreciative for our friends and family, both military and non. We have such an amazing support system in our home state and we couldn’t be more thankful for their love and support and everything they do for us. We also have our military family who treat us just like they would their biological family. We had friends in North Carolina who invited us into their home for every single holiday along with anyone else in the platoon who couldn’t go home to be with their families. They always made us feel welcome and provided us with any additional support we may need. They truly are like family to us and I don’t know what we’d do without them.
I’ve learned to be more flexible.
Okay, this one is a work in progress. But I’m getting better at going with the flow of things. I’m a planner. I’m very type A and have to have everything a certain way. Everything has to be scheduled out in advance and I always have to know what’s going on along with every detail that goes along with it. But let’s be real here, the military lifestyle just isn’t suited for type A personalities. I can’t control every situation and nine times out of ten, my opinion doesn’t really matter. I know that sounds a bit depressing, but that’s just how it is. I’ve had to learn to relax a bit and just let everything happen. We won’t be in this lifestyle forever (let’s go 2018!) so for now, I have to suck it up a bit and just go with it.
I’ve learned to embrace change.
Change isn’t always a bad thing. It can be inconvenient sometimes and really throw you for a loop, but it’s not always bad. You have the opportunity to live somewhere new and meet people you never would have met outside of the military. You gain new experiences and have the opportunity to start over someplace new every few years. It’s a lifestyle that allows you to experience things you may never have chosen to experience if you hadn’t been married to a service member. Life is an adventure as long as you choose to embrace it and go with the flow.
Although having a long distance marriage completely sucks, I’ve never felt stronger than I do right now. I’m doing so many things that I never thought I’d be able to do. I’ll admit, part of it is forced. I don’t have any other option but to find a way to make unfortunate situations work out for the best. I do this because I have to. This life challenges me every single day, but I’m so much stronger because of it. Even now as we near the end of this year long separation, I look back on the morning I said goodbye to Zack last August and remember just how impossible this year apart felt. I’ll be honest, I had no clue if we could do it or not. But we are and we’re so close to the end now. I literally feel like Superwoman sometimes and it’s the best feeling in the world. I can handle anything.
Are you a military spouse? How has this lifestyle changed you?