9 things this Marine wife is thankful for
(Photo: Unsplash, Simon Maage)

There are days when I’m exhausted and completely fed up with military life. If I have to give out my spouse’s social security number, show my ID card, and hear “Sorry, the office closed at 3 PM” just one more time, I might lose it. After seven years as a long-distance girlfriend, ten years as a spouse, seven deployments, four PCS moves, and four kids, I have had plenty of frustrating moments.

Sometimes, it’s hard to feel thankful for anything about military life.

But then, there are days when I feel incredibly lucky to be part of this military venture. We are surrounded by friends who love us and support us. And we have lived in some really interesting places. Maybe we have a lot to be thankful for, after all.

1. The time we actually spend together

Sure, sometimes my husband is gone because of deployment, or training, or classes, or duty, or any of the other 1,492 reasons a service member misses family events. But that means every day he is home is special. Each time he actually shares a holiday with us, it is special. We savor every little thing about out life together, because we never know if we will have the same chance next year.

2. Every time my spouse has come home

As much as we grumble over deployments, I am always grateful that my spouse has made it home, when many others have not. He has been wounded and had a few close calls, but I’m grateful that I never received that dreaded knock on my door.

3. Seeing the world

The recruiter told him he would “see the world.” I have to admit he was partially right: My Marine has now been to most of the continents. I was lucky to live with him in Europe for three years! That’s an opportunity our family that we will treasure forever. Living in different places around the country and overseas has opened our eyes to the diversity of our country and our world. I’m grateful for a broadened worldview, just as much as I’m thankful for all the traveling, family time, and fun memories.

4. Amazing friends

Thanks to the military, we have met the most incredible people. (Maybe because we move every few years and have become experts on fast friendships!) The military spouse community is full of extremely generous individuals. There are people who have helped me raise my kids, calmed me down on breakdown days, and gotten me through the roller coaster of military life. While living far from my own family, military friends have become my family.

5. Pre-deployment leave and homecoming honeymoons

I sometimes read accounts of civilian marriages who feel stale because they are together every day. That’s never a problem in a military marriage! Almost every year, we are either celebrating the end of one deployment or the beginning of the next one. While I certainly don’t enjoy the deployments, I do appreciate the intensity they bring to our family vacations. We work hard to cram a year’s worth of bonding time into a magical week or two. Sometimes homecoming can feel strange and awkward, but most of the time it is like a second honeymoon of falling in love all over again.

6. Generous neighbors

I’m not just talking about the neighbors who have brought me meals, mowed my grass, and helped me with car trouble. I have found incredible people and organizations in the communities around military bases who truly support military families. There are church groups and volunteers who donate everything from food to furniture to scholarships. Many military families couldn’t get by without the generous support of their local communities.

7. Pride and patriotism 

Living outside of America for three years helped us look at our country with fresh eyes. Now, I get a little teary whenever I hear the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem. Call me sappy, but I know I’m not the only military spouse with a deep pride in their service member and a fierce love of country.

8. All those great benefits

I’m kidding on this one. . .  but only sort of. Yes, we know that no one is getting married simply for perks like discounted commissary produce and lousy base housing. I have to acknowledge that things like TRICARE insurance and job security were part of the reason my husband decided to reenlist. We wanted to be able to take care of our family while I stayed home with our babies. The military allowed us to have that lifestyle. When I talk to civilian friends who paid thousands out of pocket for each child’s birth, I am grateful that I delivered all four of mine without paying a thing.

9. And. . . the dress uniforms

I simply can’t leave these off a list of things I love about the military. Yes, it’s a pain to get them dry cleaned and to remount those medals every year. But there is nothing that looks quite so good as a service member in dress uniform, amiright?

Next time you are having one of those bad days where you hate the military, remind yourself of this list. Or try making your own. When we look past the frustrations and challenges, we see the blessings of military life.

By Lizann Lightfoot