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I was in the bedroom, hanging clean clothes up in the closet. My husband was in the room with me. In typical male fashion, instead of walking around the bed he rolled across it and then somersaulted off onto the floor. I don’t remember exactly, but I probably rolled my eyes and laughed at his boyish ways. We were still newlyweds and I thought everything he did was cute. What I remember very clearly though is what happened next:

“Maybe I should join the military,” he said as he started to leave the room. 

I froze for a moment. There it was again. That thing he kept saying.

I tossed the shirt and hanger I was holding onto the bed and followed my husband towards the living room.

“You’re not just joking about this military thing are you?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” he replied.

Until now, we had never talked about the possibility of him joining the military. I knew he had considered it after graduating high school, but instead, he went to college where he majored in youth ministry and biblical studies. I thought I married a youth pastor– not someone in the military!

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Soon though, we were meeting with different recruiters from the various branches of service. We sat in Army offices and Marine offices. We discussed the possibility of going Reserve, and whether to go the enlisted or officer route. We heard what they could offer us financially, what his different MOS options would be, and timelines of when we could expect this to all happen (and let me just say, the hurry-up-and-wait starts early!).

I doubt that many people think or plan to become a military spouse. Often you fall in love with someone who is already serving and it just happens: you become a military spouse.

But when you’ve already been married to someone for almost a year, already had a plan in your head for what life with that person would look like, it can be a bit more challenging to accept.

Thankfully, I made the decision early on to not only accept it but to embrace it. Don’t misunderstand: that doesn’t always mean that it’s been easy. Being pregnant and chasing after a toddler while your husband is deployed for eight months is definitely not easy! However, over the last five years, whatever the military has thrown our way, we’ve made it work.  It has been a learning process, but there are specific things I’ve done that have helped me accept my new role as a military spouse:

Be part of the process.

Recruiting Sub Station Manhattan from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 Marines, Flickr | GOV | via Wylio

I am so thankful that my husband included me in the decision-making process every step of the way!  I know that at any time I could have slammed on the brakes and said, “No, I don’t think we should do this,” and he would have respected that.

When we were making this major decision, reading, researching, and talking to others was invaluable.  I learned right along with him what all our options were, what the crazy-sounding acronyms meant, and how this whole process worked. Staying informed will serve you well regardless of how long you have been a military spouse.

Understanding how things work and having a common vocabulary will also make it much easier to communicate with your spouse. It’s important that you can share your honest opinions with each other and work through disagreements.

Pray and trust in the plan.

Candle from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 fran.trudeau, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Becoming a military spouse can lead you into some challenging and even fearful situations.  My faith was crucial for getting me through those difficult times! Being able to trust and believe that someone far bigger and wiser than myself is in control gives me a peace that can’t be found anywhere else.

Look for ways to make it work.

International de montgolfières de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Matias Garabedian, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Like anything else in life, how you feel about being a military spouse is often about perspective. Look for the good things the life offers and figure out how you can best make the military spouse life work for you.

Think about skills and abilities you bring with you and figure out how you can continue to utilize those. Think about what you love doing the most and make time to keep doing those things. Keep your eyes and heart open to new opportunities, new favorite places, and new friendships.

And remember, there is no cookie-cutter mold you have to fit in order to be a military spouse.  You’re still you.

Know you can do it! (And on the days you can’t, ask for help!)

There will be some days in your journey as a military spouse where you feel like you are totally winning.  Days where you are holding it all together, feeling good, and loving the life.  Then there will be days where it feels like everything is falling apart, everything seems too hard, and you just want to give up.

Depending what kind of day you’re having, you can either be the help or get the help. Either kind of day is okay.  We all have both kinds of days.

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Often, other military spouses are a great source of help. I have found that the majority of the military spouse community is extremely supportive and encouraging. They have babysat my kids at a moment’s notice, brought meals after I had a baby, celebrated holidays with me, and offered a camaraderie that rivals what our service members experience while deployed together.

How to be a military spouse (when you never expected to be one!)

Five Years Later

Now after five years of being a military spouse, our conversations are more often about “Maybe I should get out of the military.” That conversation scares me and feels just as life-changing as the conversation we had about joining.  Being a military spouse has become such a significant part of who I am.  I never expected to become a military spouse, but I am so thankful to be one.

How to be a military spouse (when you never expected to be one!)Sarah is a military wife and homeschooling mama. She is daily striving (and struggling!) to love and serve Jesus by loving and serving those around her. Join her at ServantMama.com or on Facebook.

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