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The Beginners Guide to Military Spouse Life

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The Beginners Guide to Military Spouse Life

There’s nothing in the world quite like military spouse life.  It’s difficult, but so worth while if you can master it.  I’m here to help you figure out how.

I’ve lived as a military spouse for about a decade.  It’s been tough, y’all.  Think of everything that you love about your life.  Having a spouse in the military will affect all of it.  I’ve lived in 5 different states, 7 different houses.  My husband deployed during 2 of my 3 pregnancies and missed the birth of my second child.  I’ve led a deployment FRG and held every volunteer position you can think of.

It’s also amazing.  I have so many wonderful friendships and experiences that I never would’ve had if my husband were a civilian.

Why Military Spouse Life?

You’re married to someone you love more than anything in the world and even though you know that you may have to come second to his/her military service you wouldn’t change anything in the world.

Military spouse life isn’t all hands over your heart and hand painted homecoming signs.  It’s hard work.  Sometimes you’ll have to remind yourself that your love is worth all the tough times.

How to get started as a Military Spouse

This one is easy.  Fall in love.  Crazy, can’t eat, can’t sleep love.  Then you won’t even have to think twice about whether or not you can do it.  Anything short of that kind of love is gunna make a tough life dang near impossible.

That’s the easy part.  Becoming an official, government recognized military spouse means paperwork.  Lots and lots of paperwork.  You’ll need to register with DEERS and get your military ID card.

Tips for Success in Military Spouse Life

My number one tip for being a successful military spouse is to be independent.  Get comfortable doing things on your own.  Cultivate a hobby.  This lifestyle is so much easier if you’re confident in your own abilities.

Make friends.  This seems like a no brainer, but friends make all the difference in the world.  Try to make friends with other spouses in your husband’s unit.  They’ll be a lifeline when you misplace the deployment address.  They’ll also be the ones available for a playdate that you desperately need to help pass the time when your husband is gone.  But make civilian friends, too.  They’ll give you a break from all the acronyms and stress of military life.

Attend at least one family support meeting.  Each military branch calls it something different.  In the Army it’s the Family Readiness Group.  The meetings are your greatest resource.  You’ll hear straight from the commander and leader about upcoming training and deployments.  They also provide you a way to meet other families in the unit.  It’s a great way to meet people, especially if you’re new to town.

FAQ About Military Spouse Life

  • How Often Will We Move?

    • The average time spent at a duty station is about 3 years.  This can change depending on your spouse’s MOS and/or career choices.  We’ve lived at places for as little as 8 months and as long as 2 years.  We have a friend who was at Fort Drum for a decade.  Everyone’s career is different.
  • Does Everyone Deploy?

    • Short answer: yes.  There are always those random people who manage to thread the needle, but it’s wiser to go into this knowing that your spouse will most likely deploy.  It’ll save you a little grief when the orders arrive.
  • Do We Get To Choose Where We Move?

    • We’ve always been allowed to give input on where we’d like to move next.  That doesn’t mean we get where we want to go.  In the past we’ve gotten a list of duty stations that we’d put in order of favorite to least favorite.  We’ve yet to get our favorite station but we’ve been lucky enough to not get sent to our least favorite!
  • How Often Does my Service Member Get Paid?

    • Your spouse gets paid twice a month.  On the 1st and the 15th.  If either of those dates land during the weekend or on a holiday you’ll be paid the last business day BEFORE the usual pay-day.  Some banks will pay you a little ahead of time.  We have USAA and almost always get our pay 2+ days in advance.
  • Do We Have to Live on the Military Installation?

    • Married couples have the choice to live on base or off.  Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is provided to every service member and is paid every month split between the two paychecks.  If you choose to live on the installation most, if not all, your BAH will be withheld.  There are pros and cons to both and what’s right for some is wrong for others.  We’ve done both depending on our season of life and we’ll probably continue to go back and forth in the future.
  • Do We have to Pay to Move?

    • Technically, no.  There are different ways to move.  You can have the military totally pack and move your belongings and then you just drive yourself to the next place.  Or you can pack everything yourself, load your own moving truck, and bring your own belongings.  For a brief overview of how each of them work, read this.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Military Spouse Life

I’m not going to lie to you.  Military spouse life can be difficult.  It takes a strong will to survive it.  But there’s also no greater reward.  I can’t even begin to describe how proud I am of my husband or how fulfilling it is to see him do something that he truly loves and that’s bigger than we are.

I hope you stay awhile and see what I have to offer.  There’s a ton of information for surviving this lifestyle.  Subscribe to the blog and you’ll be among the first to know about updates to the blog and the latest milspouse news.

Beginner's guide to military spouse life

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