So, you’ve just gotten married to a servicemember – congratulations!
You may be wondering, “Now what?” or even, “What have I gotten myself into?” And that’s okay. Navigating the military world can be challenging and overwhelming at first. It may seem like everyone else has it all figured out (they don’t). There are a lot of acronyms to learn, a lot of ranks to remember, and you may be worried about all those deployments and moves.
That’s okay, too.
Here are six tips to help you become more comfortable as a new military spouse:
1. Find your nearest commissary and Exchange
You’ll spend a lot of time here. The commissary is a grocery store only for servicemembers and their dependents, and you can save a lot of money by shopping there (not just discounts, but it’s also tax-free). The Exchange is like a retail mall, and it’s typically known by its acronyms: MCX (Marine Corps Exchange), NEX (Navy Exchange Service Command), AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service), CGX (Coast Guard Exchange). This is where your service member will buy their uniforms. As a military spouse, it’s great because you can get discounts on pretty much any kind of product (from handbags to vacuum cleaners to furniture).
2. Go to as many events as you can
Getting to know other military spouses in your servicemember’s unit is the best way to start feeling more comfortable. Most units have spouse groups, and they meet regularly (especially during deployments). This will be an important social outlet for you, and you’ll also get great advice on everything from the best neighborhoods to buy or rent a house, to where the best schools are. The military spouse community is by far the best community I’ve ever been a part of. It’s not just in person – there are lots of online groups as well.
3. Use deployments as “you” time
Deployments can seem scary, because you’re suddenly alone for up to a year (or, if you are a mother, you’re parenting alone). But it’s important to reframe your mindset. Think of deployments as a good thing – time to pursue your own passions. When my husband was deployed, before we had kids, I took a poetry writing class, read a lot of books, went on a lot of trips to see family and friends, trained for a half-marathon, and started taking tennis lessons. It ended up being an amazing nine months for my own growth.
4. Be discreet
It’s a big change for social media users when they suddenly have to rethink everything they’re posting, but you should always be cautious about what you put online, and what you mention to people you don’t know (lots of questions is a red flag). Always be discreet about your spouse’s military service. It really is important to keep your family safe.
5. Get your legal documents in order
Typically, a lot of couples rush to do this before deployment, but it will make things a lot easier if you do this right when you get married. Make sure you are added to your spouse’s health insurance and paperwork, and that you have your own military dependent ID. Make sure you have a will, power of attorney, and life insurance. Always have a copy of your spouse’s ID, orders and LES (Leave and Earnings Statement – I can’t count how many times I needed this). Know your bank account passwords, and start being the one who pays the bills so you know where your money is going. Decide as a couple how you will budget your finances and how you want to save for retirement.
6. Know it won’t be easy
Marriage is hard. New marriage is hard. New marriage in the military is hard. So know that it’s okay when things don’t go perfectly, or you get into an argument with your spouse. Your spouse may also be adjusting to a new job, new group of people, or new place. Have a discussion at the start about how you will communicate with each other. One of you will often have to take the high road in arguments, and you should take turns doing this.
Above all, think of this time in your life as an adventure – because it truly, truly is.
Read more from Sandboxx News:
- How to get a CAC card and dependent ID cards [step-by-step guide]
- All you need to know about military exchange gift cards
- Everything you need to know about the new Commissary and Exchange rules
- Military gifts: The ultimate gift guide featuring veteran companies
- The 10 best things about living on a military base
Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo/William C. Pope