You’re married – congratulations! This is one of the most exciting times in your life, but the role of military wife is challenging (and often thankless).
First, we want to welcome you to an eternal family, a network of endless support and friendship. Being a part of the military community is something that will affect not only you and your spouse, but your entire family as well, for generations to come.
It might seem a little overwhelming, but don’t be alarmed. There are many resources available to help you adjust to this new lifestyle. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines—whichever branch of the military your spouse is involved in, there is something out there for you.
After the bliss from the ceremony has simmered, there are a few immediate tasks that need to get tackled during the following week. Legally changing your name will be one of the longest parts if you choose to go this route. You’ve had your maiden name for over 20 years, so how do you decide to change it? After talking with your spouse, maybe you’d like to hyphenate it instead of giving up your maiden name. Whatever you both decide, read these steps for the easiest transition.
Your next step is getting your military ID. To reap all of the benefits of healthcare and your local base, your spouse will need to help you get an ID at the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System office (DEERS - this is basically the military version of human resources). Don’t let this process intimidate you. It is a big deal, but the officers on base make it a very simple process for you and your spouse. Don’t forget to bring a copy of your marriage certificate though! This ID will allow you to drive on base by yourself. It may not seem like a big deal, but it can be very exciting! You’re now able to shop at the commissary without your spouse, and you are able to use the base’s resources to the fullest.
Becoming a military wife has its challenges, but many of those challenges don’t appear at the beginning of the marriage. The challenges that pop up tend to occur in the relationship long-term. These three basic tips will help you keep a happy and healthy relationship with your spouse!
Maintain an Identity
It’s easy for your identity to become lost once you get married. Make sure you allot time to focus on you and who you are as an individual rather than just a military wife.
Keep an Open Mind
Being willing and accepting is a big part of healthy relationships, along with being flexible. There is a lot of uncertainty facing military families. Will my spouse be home when I am in labor? How long before my spouse gets stationed elsewhere? What will it be like in a new area? Will we get stationed overseas? It’s important to have these conversations before you get married. Express your concerns with one another and keep an open mind to new possibilities. For newlyweds Janea and Senior Airman Jonathon Toro, the probability of moving soon is very high. Janea has lived in the Black Hills all her life and will be leaving behind all she is comfortable with for a new location where meeting new friends will be a welcome challenge. “I dated him knowing that we might move somewhere and live somewhere else; it makes me excited,” Janea said with a smile.
Engage in Open Communication & Learn from Experience
Remember to ask the hard questions. Talk to others who have been married for a while and ask what challenges they faced and how they worked through them. Learn from their experience and don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes in the future. Since your spouse is already in the military all the acronyms and ranks are very familiar. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification about what they do or what something means when they come home from work. Communication is very important in keeping any relationship healthy, but it is crucial in a relationship where you might spend months or years apart. Talk to each other about how you are feeling, about what is working and what areas could use some work.
written by Sarah Richards
To discover more resources and tips available to you and your spouse, check out Tips & Tools for Military Spouses.