John and I are going to be newlyweds forever. (Well, obviously, according to the calendar, we’re not anymore. But we’re trying to never lose that “new car smell” to our relationship. A good smell– not the stink of sweaty, dirty NWUs.) So even though we don’t want to take each other for granted, or lose the reasons we fell in love, I am really glad that I’m no longer new to the military.
That stuff makes me nervous.
Sure– some of you may think I’m a pansy– but I didn’t grow up in the military and while John and I were dating, I had limited access to the lifestyle. So military functions make me a little uncomfortable–and made me crazy nervous when I was really new to it.
John and I got married during a weird time in his career. He was leaving his command and going to C-School so we could PCS to another command. My welcome into the military lifestyle was more from military spouses online– and I have been so grateful for it. It meant the world to me to be accepted by fantastically intelligent and wonderful women– especially at a time when I had lost so much of my independence and was trying to see how John and I fit as a couple and how I fit as an individual in the military community.
Being new is never fun. But as military spouses who know what’s going on and have been-there-and-done-that, we have the ability to really make a difference in the lives of other military spouses. Here are a few ways how to do that:
Don’t be a stereotype.
We all know it: there are some stereotypes about military spouses that are… less than kind (and pretty well known). Those stereotypes can be intimidating– especially for someone who may not be familiar with the military community.
And we know this too: the vast majority of military spouses aren’t crazed with drama or gossip. (Tweet this!) They’re helpful and kind and want the best for their community and for the people who are part of it. Be that kind of person for a new spouse.
It sounds so simple, but being friendly can be a breath of fresh air to a new spouse– especially if the couple has just PCS’ed. We’ve all got our groups of friends, but take a minute to say hello (and not just to invite him/her to an independent seller party).
Let’s be real: the military has a lot of resources available to military families… and they can be really tough to find. (I feel like I am still discovering websites and organizations.) And then, there are the non-profits, blogs, books, meet-ups, conferences… you get the picture. Passing on the best, most helpful resources that you’ve found and that your family uses can mean the world to an overwhelmed new spouse.
Ask what he/she needs.
Remember how nerve-wracking the first few days (weeks? months?) of being new to the military were? Depending on his/her circumstances, he/she might need a recommendation for where to buy a car, how to use transit, what grocery store is best, or even how to get around base. Maybe she/he wants to get involved with the community and doesn’t know how to. Or maybe he/she needs a job. Take a minute and ask her/him what she/he needs. Your help is important– and if you can connect him/her with other people, so much the better!