Since the days of World War II and the days prior to September 11, the image of the military spouse was painted as the homemaker and the caretaker of all children. Every single wife was made to resemble the June Clevers of the world. You stayed home, you cooked, you cleaned, and you got the children off to school. Those days have long gone. They still do all of those things, but they are so much more.
You learn over a period of time that your duties evolve into something greater and requires you to take on a whole new set of expectations and roles. Let’s take a look at some of the roles already associated with being a military spouse. These apply to both men and women nowadays, so do not feel excluded, gentlemen.
Roles often associated with military spouses by people that are not military spouses:
- Cooking, Cleaning, tending to the Children, and making sure the hubby or wife has a clean uniform for work.
Well, that about covers it! This is the stereotype that is placed on most military spouses because in all honesty, that is what you see in a lot of military installations. You hear jokes about “dependopotamus” and the “money grubber,” but those stereotypes could not be more inaccurate. Do not get me wrong, the dependopotamus and the money grubber do exist, but those types could usually care less about what it truly means to be a military spouse.
The truth is, they are so much more! If you will one day become a military spouse, here is what you can expect from a new life that awaits you:
- You will move…probably a lot. You may hate the assignment, but you are not there for the scenery.
- You will more than likely live in base housing. It’s not always the greatest, but it’s a roof over your head, right?
- Your spouse will deploy…probably a lot, depending on their career field.
- If you are not employed, money will most likely be tight. Especially if/when you have children. Everyone knows that military pay is nothing to brag about (for the enlisted, anyway).
- Your spouse could quite possibly never make it home. This is harsh, but it has been a reality for thousands.
So, how do you “survive” this new life? It is simple:
- Learn to live with the assignment. Keep in mind you will not be there forever. So, make yourself comfortable, but not too comfortable.
- The housing is free, so there really is no room for complaining. If you don’t like it, move off base. Just remember, when you move off base you are now exposed to the “off-base elements” (i.e. longer travel time to base and crime). So, if you can’t handle free housing, you always have an alternative means.
- Learn to be supportive when your spouse deploys. Don’t be a complainer! What your spouse will be going through will be just as difficult. Telephone conversations need to be sweet and supportive. In the days of Skype and Facebook, keeping in touch has been far more convenient.
- If you have no children…get a job! You can’t support your spouse if it appears that you can’t support yourself. If you have children and elect to be a stay-at-home mother, great. Just remember to keep them busy so you don’t feel like you are losing your mind. These feelings tend to be taken out on the deployed spouse.
- Lastly, be prepared in the event that your spouse may never come home. That is the sacrifice they have made. They swore to support and defend this country and you swore to love them in good times and bad. Have all appropriate affairs in order before your spouse deploys. This will ensure that you and your family are taken care of.
There is a lot more you need to know or will learn once you become a military spouse. These are just a few of the simple things that men and women forget about and act completely surprised when it happens to them.
The military life is an unstable life and it takes a special kind of person to make this commitment, whether they be the one raising their right hand and taking the oath of enlistment or the man or woman standing beside them. It’s difficult, but not impossible.
Urban Dictionary, “Dependopotamus.” www.urbandictionary.com.
Defense Finance and Accounting Service. “2013 Military Pay Charts.” www.dfas.mil.
About.com, “Oath of Enlistment.” www.usmilitary.about.com.