It goes without saying that having a good attitude towards the ups and downs life throws your way is generally a helpful characteristic to have. In military life, however, it is even more vital. Life as a military spouse requires the relinquishment of a certain amount of control that for many, can be frustrating. The military tells you where you will live, what hours your spouse will work, and in certain cases when you will see your spouse again. In my experience I have seen two very different reactions to this loss of control with two very different outcomes in return.
Some family members resent the military and the control it exerts over their lives. They “rage against the machine’ so to speak. Upon receiving orders to a new duty station they are upset about the location, the timing of the move, the housing they are provided with. They get angry and find blame when deployment orders come down. They complain about the commissary, the medical care, the schools, their spouse’s schedules.
While a certain amount of frustration is unavoidable, focusing on the negatives can ruin your quality of life. Years ago my husband received orders to a small Ranger camp that is located literally 17 miles in the middle of the woods. A trip to the grocery store was a 40 mile round trip…the housing was less than stellar, and it could feel isolated to say the least.
I loved it.
It was one of my favorite places we have been stationed so far, but you should have seen the horror of incoming spouses when they realized this was where they’d be spending their next few years. Rather than focusing on the positive-my husband’s work was less than a mile down the road so he was able to have breakfast every morning with us after PT, and come home for lunch, we often took walks to his office when he had to work late-they focused on the small houses or long drive to “civilization.” Can you guess who was the happiest during those years?
As for deployments and separations-you again have control over your reaction to the situation. Sure, we all get upset and angry when faced with a deployment, who wouldn’t? But you can choose to get past it or you can dwell on it. Are you going to complain and sulk the months away or take that time to accomplish a goal, learn a new skill, meet new people?
How you approach the challenges of military life will make or break your happiness during your spouse’s career. If you find you have a hard time accepting the challenges and hardships and focusing on the positives, talk with friends who seem to have positive outlooks or utilize resources like Military One Source or ACS to find counselors that can help you. Just remember: you may not have control over the situations military life puts you in, but YOU have control over your reaction to it-make it a good one!