Many months ago I read this post from They Call me Dependent. It reminds the readers of what life was like when we were the new spouse. That the first anything was traumatic and that others’ reactions, particularly those seeming to have a good time, couldn’t be right. But more importantly it reminded me that we’ve all been there and as time goes we learn and change and cope. And around that time I also realized that I was becoming that seasoned spouse.
It only took me about two and a half years but I think I’ve become a seasoned spouse. Or at least I’m feeling more seasoned. It really hit me at a unit event a few weeks later talking to some new spouses. There were so many things that came up that I remember worrying about like crazy just a year ago and now…well not so much. And it was hard for me to articulate that it wasn’t something to spend all their time worrying about.
Do I still worry about our life in the Army, James when he’s gone, and what lies ahead? Yes. Do I still learn new things every day? Yep. But it all feels different. I feel different about all of the things the Army throws my way then I did even a year ago.
The difference I guess is how I view things. I don’t get (as) frantic or stressed about it all. I have become more laissez faire about things because there are so many that change constantly and are honestly out of our control. I hope I didn’t come off as crazy when talking to the newer spouses at this event but I remember worrying about the same things, letting it consume me, and to be honest it wasn’t worth the energy. I still worry about the same things, but not as much. I try not to get too caught up in it all because I’d drive myself crazy. There are other things to put that energy into.
So what are those things that I try to worry less about?
- HIs next job. The Army moves people around to different jobs for career progression, I have seen this a lot for officers, and it’s been my only experience. They need experience with managing people, planning things, managing logisitics, etc. And these jobs differ depending on your branch (Infantry, Military Intelligence, Engineer, Medics, etc) so if I compare James’ path with someone else’s it’s totally different. And for awhile I thought something was wrong, but it wasn’t. And then there is the talk of the next job and my mind would jump immediately to “oh when do you get this?” “are we moving companies or battalions this month or next?” I know I bugged James about it a lot. Then it would happen when it happened. My stress did nothing to move things along. Do I still worry about it too much? Probably. I know I worry about meeting new people when we switch units, but at the end of the day change is hard, even if it’s really a minor shift. I’m trying now to roll with it, not stress about when, and let it happen. Easier said than done.
- Any and all dates. Yes, I care and worry about this, but the dates change like crazy. Things get cancelled. If it’s more than 6 weeks out, I don’t worry about it. The larger training events and deployments that are on the books I know are coming, but the dates he leaves and returns? I don’t trust those until a week out, even then it may change a day or a few hours. I think every time James has gone somewhere, something has changed – the date, the time, etc. It drives me a bit nuts because that whole week becomes a suck of worrying about when the last day together is for awhile. Yes, it drives me nuts, but I’m learning to accept it and be flexible. But when I see or hear dates for the first time, I take it with a grain of salt.
- Being apart. (Follow me on this one.) I hate the actual being apart but when it happens I make plans. The first time he was gone was huge. I wasn’t sure what I’d do, which is a bit silly since we dated long distance, but I’m used to spending time together now and sharing a home. But I know I will be fine when things come up. Sure the house is extra creaky when it’s just me here but I fill my schedule. It helps me get through it and stay positive. The main lesson I learned during deployment was that I can take care of stuff on my own, shit will hit the fan, but I can get through it.
At the end of the day, military life is stressful. But if you get caught up in it you’ll miss things. It will all work out in the end. You will spend all your time worrying and talking about that next thing that could happen in a day or 3 months or a year from now. You’ll miss meeting new people. Learning about and from them. And time stress-free with your hubby or wife. James is much better at rolling with the punches and waiting than I am, so I am trying to learn from him, but as time goes on my energy is focused more and more on every day life. Now when we move, that’ll be a different story because that’s a lot of moving parts, but I will take deep breaths and take it a day at a time.
What are your tips to get through the stress of military life and constant changes? Any tips to help new spouses or significant others out?