Today is our 8th wedding anniversary. My husband was in the Army for a year before we got married, so I’ve been an Army Wife the whole time I’ve been a wife. My dad was in the Navy for several years when I was growing up, so being a military dependent wasn’t new to me, but there are some things I wish I had known when I’d first gotten married. It would have made those first few years much easier.
1. The Army comes first.
Accept this as soon as possible. He’s going to have to work when it’s important to you. At times he’ll seem closer to the people from work than he is to you. For as long as he’s in, the Army takes priority. Roll with it. It’ll make you stronger, it will make him stronger, and it will make your relationship stronger.
2. There is no ranking system for spouses.
His rank is not your rank–and neither is any other husband’s rank any other wife’s. Experienced wives have insight into being an Army Wife–they can be great resources for you. But they do not outrank you.
3. The FRG is not as useful as it pretends to be.
The FRG exists to help spouses and family members access Army-sponsored resources, but you do not need them. You don’t have to go through your FRG leader or his commander to speak with the chaplain, or apply for scholarships, or access anything else they tell you that you have to see them about. If you need them and can use them, that’s great. But don’t let them make you feel trapped and helpless.
4. Don’t make friends with any spouses you wouldn’t be friends with if it weren’t for the Army.
You’ll be forced into close proximity with people you wouldn’t otherwise associate with. It’s okay to keep it civil but not friendly. You don’t have to be friends with these people, and in fact if you have a solid civilian support system, you don’t need them. It helps to have people around you who know what you’re going through, but good friends can be just as helpful.
5. Explore the resources available to you.
There are tons. Educational resources, mental and physical health resources, volunteer opportunities, even employment opportunities. Explore them, take advantage of them, enjoy them. It’s small compensation for the sacrifices you, too, make.