IT'S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE
I met my wife and fell in love in high school. We had a plan to finish college, get married, begin our careers, and start our own little family. But, during college, BOOM!..my wife decided to join the Air Force. I knew nothing about the military. I remember the day she left for basic training and wondered if it was her way of leaving me!! I felt lost. Four months later, she called from tech school to inform me we were getting married!! We were moving to Florida and living on base. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I loved her and trusted her. We moved in base housing, and I quickly learned the installation was like its own little city. I had no idea there was a gym, library, education center, grocery store (what’s a commissary?). This wasn’t so bad! I began playing intramural sports with her active-duty co-workers, mostly males, and friendships quickly formed. Soon after, I began meeting their spouses and this was my introduction to the military spouse lifestyle. As a new spouse, they educated me on various military topics, taught me acronyms, and helped navigate me in this new spouse endeavor. I felt connected. Through the years, I was fortunate enough to land jobs at each assignment. Each job varied, but one thing in common, I found most of my co-workers were military spouses. Some new, some old, and from all over the world, but we shared that common bond. I was more experienced now and could start to share some of my knowledge with other spouses and they listened. I felt valued. As my wife’s career progressed, the job responsibilities grew, and the moves became more frequent. Three assignments in three years made it tough for me to find work. Her career became a top priority, my career needed to pause. Time to pivot. My new role would change from earning an income to cleaning the house, doing laundry, paying bills, making appointments, helping with homework, free kid Uber driver. Did I know what I was doing? NO! I felt vulnerable. But I knew I had all kinds of military spouses I met along the journey I could call on for advice. They taught me all the tips and tricks. Before I knew it, I made the meanest PB&J sandwich any lunchbox ever held. I could turn my daughters’ 6 am bedhead into a French-braided masterpiece in under a minute! I had ponytail holders as bracelets on my wrist, like a Dad Badge of Honor! I felt empowered. As my wife’s work hours continued to get longer, the TDYs increased, the mid-week special events and ceremonies never ended; just meant more Movie Nights with Dad and ice cream for dinner (it has milk, it’s healthy)! Through this experience I learned about perspective, I had it all wrong. I was looking through the lens of not having a job; instead of seeing it as my most important job I ever had, being a stay-at-home Dad. My job let me spend more time with my children and support my spouse by taking care of home so she could focus on work. It also allowed time to volunteer at my children’s school, help decorate and set up military events, assist with base helping agencies. I worked with Key Spouses and attended Spouse Club meetings and get-togethers. I felt involved. For a male spouse, being involved may seem intimidating. Maybe you think you won’t be accepted. I am here to encourage you to get out and be active, you might be surprised just how accepted you are! Your voice and perspective is key. Once involved you will see how helpful and embracing the military spouse community is. Military spouse life is hectic and chaotic. It is exhausting and sometimes lonely. But, you are not ALONE! We are in this together. We pick each other up. We answer the call. That’s what gives us military spouses our unique bond...our grit! With over 25 years as a military spouse, and now transitioning to retirement, I’ve had some time to reflect. All the endless nights, the packing up and moves, being the new person, all seemed so stressful at the time. But those are learning moments. They teach us the necessary skills to adapt and overcome. Those experiences mold us. You can plant a military spouse anywhere in the world and they will THRIVE! To all my military spouses, thank you for all you do. What you do does not go unnoticed. I am proud of you and I am proud to be a military spouse. Special thanks to all the spouses that took time to help me, shape me, and better me. I feel honored.
Brian M., Space Force Spouse