What’s the hardest thing you’ve gone through as a milspo?
Deployment? Dropping all you know and moving with a few weeks’ notice? PTSD? Stigma and stereotypes pushed onto you from others? These and more are hardships you will experience as a military spouse. And no, they aren’t isolated incidents; they’re ongoing and repetitive. Sigh.
That’s also why sometimes, it’s just so dang hard being a milspo! Sure there are plenty of highs and rewards as you go. (Seriously there’s no other feeling like it … and most folks will never experience it for themselves.) What other lifestyle introduces you to new areas, cultures, and an unlimited source of fulfillment? But with those perks come the draggingest, duldrummiest downs, too.
So when your spouse is in need of some serious support, sometimes it’s just HARD. You don’t always feel like being the backbone. Sometimes you just want to complain! Sometimes you want to scream and say, “Not right now.” But, that’s why we said hard; being a milspo means working through these frustrations to remain supportive, even when it feels crummy.
Does that mean you have to hide said frustrations? Of course not. It’s important to communicate with your spouse and tell them what’s bothering you. But sharing feelings is different than a complaining session, too. Say, “This bothers me. How can we fix it?” Or, “How can I let this affect me less?” This is what you should be offering to your spouse too, support and solutions!
Complaining might feel better at the time, but it will ultimately leave you in a funk of negativity. Instead, work on a plan together wherein you can come up with more positive outcomes and walk away happier. And man, do you feel better when you work things through together! Make goals and conquer them together … all while you’re there, leading your service member into a healthier mindset for everyone’s future.
Whether you’re looking at a crappy training schedule, a quick PCS, a move to a station you loathe, or a deployment — whatever the military can throw your way, you can support your spouse so that your entire family comes out ahead.
This is a process that gets easier as you go. The more you overcome, the stronger you will feel, and it will be more like second nature to grind through the hard stuff. This is what brings your power as a milspo. You know those 20+ year spouses who you feel are just made of titanium and aren’t even the SLIGHTEST bit affected by the CRAZIEST stuff? That’s how you get there, years of swatting away problems and building up your shield. It’s a self strength that’s so incredibly impressive. Power on, spouses!
Of course, you should offer this same mindset for your spouse too. They will be working on their own level of inner strength, and pairing the two of you together will make you unstoppable.
Remember, at times you will have to remain strong for the family, too. Not because you know better, but because they’re the one living the service life. In turn, you can help support the family by bringing everyone together. There will be times where you have your moments of weakness, too. That’s why leaning on each other allows you to become a stronger couple, and to learn to fix issues together.
In order to keep yourself strong in these situations, you can use whatever methods work for you. Remind yourself of all you’ve gone through in the past. Write a journal to sort out emotions. Hit the gym and sweat out your fears. Look to resources or support from other milspouses (others in your life can certainly help, but there’s a certain distance when they haven’t/won’t live it themselves).
Do what you need to do to get the fear out, remove the anger, and persevere on the other side. Don’t hold onto it, it will only fester and grow. Instead, remove and conquer those feelings so you can come out ahead of them on the other side.
As a milspo, it’s often up to you to support and encourage the family. With high levels of stress and rough training schedules for your service member, they have a lot on their plate. Feeling as though it’s up to you to hold down the fort can be overwhelming, but it’s a skill you get better at over time. Don’t discount that hard-ness, embrace it and let it lift you up!
This can be tough, especially in difficult seasons of life. (This is true due to military circumstances, or just what your family is going through in general! Moving, new babies, losing family members, sickness, and more.) Instead of focusing on those hard days, look ahead and beyond the situations in front of you for a way to lead your entire family to success and positive thinking.