If someone asked me when I was 20 years old what I would be doing at 30, I probably would have responded that I would be married to a local country boy, living on our own little piece of farmland within the 1 square mile where much of my family still lives. Instead, (insert God’s humor here) at 21 I fell in love with a southern boy with plans of a life serving in the military. Rather than staying in one place forever, living an incredibly predictable life, with the same friends since kindergarten, I have moved as often as three times within one year, living everywhere from Washington State to Germany.
For someone with my personality, all this relocation has at times been very isolating and lonely. After a couple of years as a military wife, I finally decided to venture outside of my comfort zone. In doing this I have found some of my closest friends and created bonds that will last a lifetime. These women (and often their spouses) have helped me through some very tough times and also celebrated some of life’s most important events.
If you meet or already have a friend who is a military spouse, here are a few ways you can be a blessing to them, especially during times of deployment:
– Take the initiative. Invite her out to coffee, to church, or to meet a few of your friends. When arriving at a new duty station, military wives often have no contacts outside of their spouse/children, so meeting people and getting to know their new surroundings can help start their new social life.
-Put yourself in their position and think of what would be most helpful, especially if their spouse is deployed. When my husband has been out of the country, the offer of childcare by a trusted friend has been one of the best gifts ever. My neighbor’s husband would occasionally mow my lawn without even asking, and another neighbor had his son drag my garbage can out to the street when he saw me struggling to get it there with a baby on my hip.
-Many people respond with “let me know if I can do anything for you” when they hear your husband is serving overseas, but often military spouses don’t want to ask for help, are embarrassed or too proud. But when handling everything alone, without any family or friends near, while your husband is in a dangerous environment, I promise that we can all use help at times. It’s much easier if you tell us what you plan to do. Instead of “can I help you with anything?”, say “I’m going to make dinner and bring it over Thursday. Would that work for you”? or “I know you have been wanting to get your hair cut, let me watch the baby so that you have some time to make an appointment”.
I have made some amazing friends during my time as a military spouse, many of them Army wives, but just as many have been neighbors, church friends, or coworkers. These women have been my buddies, confidants, my source of laughter, and often my backbone during difficult times. While I unfortunately have to move much more often than most, I am blessed to have friends all over the world, who I can still call on if I ever need them and who I will always cherish. If you too are a military spouse feeling a bit isolated in your unconventional lifestyle, I encourage you to break out of your comfort zone and if you aren’t a military spouse, I encourage you to befriend one — you might be surprised by the lifelong friend you make.