If you’re thinking about a new resolution or goal for this year, you’re not alone. I’ve been trying to think of what I want the next year to look like for myself. Inevitably, I think of the same old things: lose that elusive ten pounds, elevate myself professionally, be kinder, be more loving, work harder. You know, probably the exact same things that are on your list of resolutions.
But this year, I couldn’t help thinking about the military community, too, when it comes to resolutions. I started this year exceptionally discouraged. When I say that I cried every day, I mean it. I literally cried every day. (I know it wasn’t healthy!) Between a job that asked too much of me and caused me to put relationships and my health on the backburner to toxic relationships that I couldn’t wiggle free from, it was a really, really tough first few months (on the tailend of some difficult years).
Those experiences, though, have made me very reflective on what other people have experienced and are facing, too, in the military community. I know I’m not the only one because I see what you comment and email me; I talk to you at conferences and online. And I know that there are some things that we can do better to make our lives and community better. Military spouses are so used to saying “yes” to things– yes to potlucks and volunteering, yes to taking a lower salary, yes to driving across the country alone (and yes to a lot of good things too)– but what if military spouses said no this year?
1. Military spouses are not working for free this year
Historically, military spouses have been seen as a source of free labor; after all, for such a long time, they weren’t able to have or were discouraged from having jobs outside the home. Add the stereotype that military spouses are uneducated and only follow their spouses around, and it makes sense why so many people think that military spouses should be “glad for what they get” when it comes to the job market. The one way spouses can fight this? Don’t work for free. Say it with me: “My skills and time are worth money.” Then, when someone approaches you about using your skills and time for free, practice saying this: “This sounds like a great fit! I’d love to work with you. Here are my rates.”
2. Military spouses are removing themselves from toxic relationships this year
Don’t get me wrong: there are many, many, many wonderful people in the military community. But the reality is, there are also some very, very toxic people, too. I spent way too long being cowed by people who were absolutely abysmally toxic. People who are revered in the community. People who seem to have stellar reputations until you pull back the veneer and see the crazy underneath. I wish I wouldn’t have spent so much time feeling like I had to work for or work with toxic people to further my career. Plain and simple, I was afraid of what they would do to me personally and professionally if I went my own way. I know there are other people in the military community who feel this way too. Life is too, too precious and too, too short to spend time–professionally, socially, or otherwise–with toxic people.
3. Military spouses are not accepting stereotypes this year
I don’t have to write the stereotypes about military spouses here. You know them already. This year, defy the things that other people think about you simply because of your connection to the military. Not only will it make the community a better place filled with more visible diversity, it will make you feel better because you’re being authentic and true to yourself. And military spouses are not going to accept stereotypes about each other either. Stop them dead in their tracks.
4. Military spouses are not doing all of the work in their marriages this year
Too often military spouses find themselves feeling singularly responsible for the health of their relationship. They’re told over and over and over again that “the mission comes first.” Depending on the whereabouts of their spouse, they may not have communication for weeks (or months). And some military members let this messaging go to their heads too. After all, spouses are supposed to keep the homefires burning, right? Here’s the honest truth: No relationship can survive when one person abdicates their responsibility to the other. No relationship can be healthy when one person is expected to do everything while the other does comparatively little or nothing. That’s not to say that there isn’t an ebb and flow to a relationship; of course there is. But when only one member is always doing the emotional and physical labor to keep the relationship going and the household moving, there’s something seriously wrong. That’s not a relationship. And this year, military spouses are not normalizing it anymore.
5. Military spouses are not hoarding and boxing others out this year
When seems to only be a certain amount of jobs, good housing, opportunities, or limelight, it can be so easy to have a scarcity mindset. It can be easy to hoard the resources or job opportunities or accolades for ourselves because we seriously don’t know if there is enough for everyone. But there is. The military community seems small, but there is abundance here. I’ve seen it happen. There’s enough for everyone if we are conscious about it. So this year, make room for other people. Leave reviews and pump up the military spouse small business owners. Submit each other for awards programs. Tell people you think they’re doing a great job. Advocate on each other’s behalfs. Welcome in someone who seems different from you or new to the area. The community only becomes stronger by becoming more welcoming. Do you part.
Start your new year off right:
- 5 Ways to Make Your Military Life Better in the New Year
- Powerful Resolutions for Military Spouses (That Will Last Past January 1!)
- 46 Deployment Bucket List Goals for the New Year
- 83 Power Words for Milspouses in the New Year