Today, I am switching things up for The Gratitude Book. Instead of listing things I’ve been grateful for throughout the week, I want to write about why I am grateful to be a military spouse. I feel like lately, all I’ve been doing is complaining. But then I read this quote, and I realized that I have to be the one to change my attitude about my situation.
So, today I am going to write about everything that being a military spouse has done for me. I want to take a few minutes to cultivate joy and write down all of the things that I am appreciate about this awesome, hard, beautiful life.
Being a military spouse has made me more independent. When Nick and I got married, I had never even cooked a meal on my own. Nick loves to tell the story about how I was picking up ingredients for him to cook dinner. One of the ingredients was “crushed red pepper,” so I bought a red bell pepper. Yup.
Now, I do everything from cooking meals to taking care of the finances. I get a lot of pride out of doing things that I normally would have asked Nick to do. I will say, sometimes I’m worried that I am too independent. But I would rather be this way than depend on Nick for everything. Nick and I have an agreement that any decision I make while he is gone, he will support, even if he would not have made that decision. At this point, I feel like we are pretty much on the same page for everything, but I appreciate that level of trust that he has in me. I think that being separated so much has helped us gain that trust.
Being a military spouse has enabled me to make tight friendships. I’ve said this before, but when you meet a military spouse, even if you don’t have much in common, there is an instant connection. I have connected with so many submarine wives over the past 10 years. There are such unique challenges that come with being a submarine spouse that sometimes, they are only people I feel like will understand me. I love knowing that I can call my submarine spouse friends anytime and know that they will be there for me to listen to me vent or offer advice. Having that support network is huge. And, being literally in the “same boat” as other wives from Nick’s boat is amazing. When the guys are gone, we have wine nights, potlucks, sleepovers. Because we are going through something so difficult together, I know that we have a bond for life.
Being a military spouse had strengthened my marriage. I could write an entire post about this, and maybe I will. From all of our time apart, we have built up so much trust in each other. Being apart for 3, 4, or 5 months at a time has made us apprecaite each other in ways we would never have. Going through hard things like deployments, being far from home in a place where we don’t know anyone, and moving somewhere totally new and having to find a place to live together has made us incredibly close. We have such a tight bond because of everything we have been through together. I also don’t take a single night cuddling on the couch with wine and Game of Thrones together for granted.
Being a military spouse has given me an exciting life. Homecoming. Moving around. Meeting new people. Going to visit friends and family. Having friends and family visit us wherever we are. Some people say that the lows are lower when you are a military family, but the highs are higher. I don’t know anything else, so I don’t know how true that is, but the highs are pretty amazing.
Military life is never monotonous or boring. And that is one of the things I love most about it.
Being a military spouse has given me the ability to reinvent myself. Before I moved away, I worked in the same organization for 6 years. I loved doing PR for a hospital and I probably would have stayed at that hospital for my entire career. I honestly would have been very happy doing that, and sometimes I mourn the career I could have had. I enjoyed my work, I had great coworkers, I felt like I was good at what I was doing, and I know I would have gotten better as the years went on.
But moving around has enabled me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. I started this blog. I tried out different volunteering opportunities and now I am doing something I never thought I would do: Working with budgeting and finances at the NMCRS. Now I also work for a travel agency and I can make my entire schedule.
Being a military spouse has given me the ability to live in many different places. Hawaii and Connecticut so far, who knows where else we will go?!
Being a military spouse has enabled me to travel. Since we’ve lived in Hawaii, we’ve gone to New Zealand and to a few other Hawaiian islands. When we lived in Connecticut, we were able to take road trips to Boston, New York, and Vermont. I love to be able to take trips to different places close to wherever we live.
Whenever we PCS, Nick usually takes about a month off so that we can see our families and take a trip, just the two of us. Not many civilians get an entire month off, ever. Nick gets it every couple of years.
Being a military spouse has given me health insurance. I’ve been fortunate enough to have great health insurance for my entire life, first through my parents and then through my job working at a hospital. When Nick and I got married, I was able to get right on his health insurance even though I didn’t have a job. In the past few years alone, I was able to get genetic testing for the BRCA genes (I am negative!), a colonoscopy, and birth control. Plus, when I wasn’t feeling well and when I sprained my ankle, I was easily able to go to the doctor and get the medicine I needed.
Being a military spouse has given me many things, but it’s up to me to make the most out of them. Living in Hawaii could be just like living anywhere else if I didn’t get out and explore. I’d never make new friends if I didn’t put myself out there. I’d never step outside of my comfort zone if I didn’t take that first step and call the relief society to set up an interview. I could be resentful of Nick for being gone so long if I wasn’t able to be independent. I’d never have gotten a job as a blogger for a travel agency if I didn’t take the initiative to make my own blog years ago.
Being a military spouse is hard. Sometimes, it feels too hard. Sometimes, I feel like I can’t do it. But it is has given me so much that I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else. I am stronger, happier, more independent, and more appreciative of everything in my life – especially my husband – than I ever could have been. I am so thankful for this life.
What are you thankful for this week?